Fine Turgrass Management

Fine Turgrass Management

Steve Cook, CGCS, MG - Director of Agronomy

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

White Oaks in Michigan

The White Oak Tree

Several species of Oaks (Quercus) are native to Michigan. Among those is the white oak, Quercus alba. While rare in the upper peninsula, White oak is common in the southern half of the state, although there are very few natives on our property.

They are common in oak-hickory forests, prefer drier soils and are not typically found on lowland and poorly drained sites. A mature tree can reach 70-90 feet and the Michigan Big Tree is in Allegan Co. at a height of 84 feet. A life span of over 500 years is not uncommon. The national champion white oak was the Wye Oak in Maryland, brought down by a storm in 2002 after it had reached a spread of more than 100 feet. (The Brompton Oak shaded a Union Field hospital during the Civil War battle of Fredericksburg and is still standing.)

 When we install trees, White oak is one of the species we use. There is a misconception that oaks are hard to transplant and their growth rate is slow. Not true! We have had enormous success moving oaks in the winter all the way to early May,  just after they have pushed out new leaves. At planting we give them a moderate amount of water and some fertilizer and we see 12" - 18' of new growth annually after the first year. The key is finding good quality nursery stock and our nursery of choice is in Illinois: Kaneville Tree Farm. So have confidence that if you find a reliable source oak trees will be an excellent landscape planting if handled correctly!

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