ISSUE 11 July 11, 2002
REMOVING TREE STAKES
Out here on the plains where wind is a constant factor, tress are often supported with stakes attached to a strap that goes around the trunk to help with stability while the tree establishes a root system (see photo 1). This is a useful tool, but like most good tools it can become a problem if not used correctly. That means that the strap attaching the tree to the stake eventually will need to be removed. If it is not, it can cut into the growing tree and restrict water and nutrient flow (see photo 2).
As a general rule, these support systems can be removed after about a year. By then, most trees have developed enough of a root system that they can provide adequate stability for the tree, even under windy conditions. When the strap and support system is not removed, there is potential for the tree to grow in girth enough to essentially over-grow the strap material. When this occurs, the tree will try to grow around the strap material, but the danger is that the vascular system which carries water and nutrients from the roots to the rest of the tree will be cut off. The result is that the tree is choked off and may eventually show signs of top dieback, and possibly progressively die out completely. It is a good idea to leave a support system in place for about a year. Any longer than that, and the tree needs to be monitored closely to see that the material around the trunk is not binding the growth of the tree trunk.
NDSU Plant Diagnostic Lab