Oaks are mighty | Farm progress
Many years ago, as we were developing our community arboretum in my hometown, we planted a handful of bur oak seedlings in our parks. At the time, a few skeptics mentioned that they would never live long enough to see these oaks represent anything.
In addition, their experiences with bur oak took place in a wild pasture setting, where the trees grew gnarled and hard. They were not considered majestic park trees.
Today, about 30 years later, these tiny bur oak seedlings have grown to a height of about 40 feet and are wonderful shade trees in our parks. Granted, they were planted next to a stream, so moisture was never an issue for their growth. Still, this little burial oak experience proved to me that oaks are a tree that should be considered for planting around the farm and ranch.
On our farm there are no native bur oak trees. Our stream valley grows lots of native hackberry and poplar, but no oak. This is why we planted a few bur oak seedlings a few years ago on the farm, due to their longevity and resistance to extreme conditions.
Oaks thrive in zones 3 through 8, which cover most of the Americas. They are known for their low growth rate, which is why they are considered survivors. They take their time and require a little patience, growing maybe a foot or more per year under normal conditions.
In our park, where humidity is not a problem, they sometimes grew up to 2 feet per year. At maturity, a burner oak can reach heights of 50 to 75 feet, or up to 80 feet under certain conditions. The scientific name “macrocarpa” means “large fruit,” which refers to the large acorns enclosed in a hat lined with bures that wraps around the nut in bur oaks.
Trees grow well in almost all soil conditions and are suitable for rural settings, and even urban settings where smoke and other pollutants can harm other tree species. The wild oaks of native deciduous forests may not be as majestic in these conditions, but they thrive in almost any type of soil and over rough terrain.
Although oaks thrive if humidity is plentiful, they are also known for their drought tolerance and can handle semi-arid regions.
Importantly, in eastern Nebraska counties and other parts of the Great Plains, oak decline has been a problem – with leaves turning brown in late summer, leaf drop. early or leaves that remain on the tree during the winter months. , or severe dieback of twigs and branches.
These common symptoms of bur oak (Tubakia iowensis) blight appear to be most common in a subspecies of bur oak, Q. macrocarpa var. oliviform, which is normally found on higher and drier sites. While there may be other factors involved, including exposure to herbicides, disturbance of woods, oak wilt, root rot or borers, oak blight is something to watch out for.
If you plant an oak tree at home, you are not planting it for yourself. These long-lived trees can survive for hundreds of years. There is a century-old specimen of bur oak in Ponca State Park along the Missouri River near Ponca, Neb.
It was 160 years before Captain Meriwether Lewis and Captain William Clark and their expedition visited the area in 1804 up the Missouri River. It is certainly one of the oldest trees in the state. So if you plant a bur oak today on your farm, maybe you are planting a living monument that could exist for centuries.