2014 - Volume #38, Issue #6, Page #28[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
He Grows Oaks That Produce Acorns in 3 to 9 Years
“Ninety-nine percent of our customers buy hybrid white oaks for acorn production for wildlife. They don’t want to wait 20 or more years,” he says.
The white oak acorn is one of the favorite foods of deer and turkeys. Morse says he’s watched wildlife go through his apple orchard to get to the acorns under his oak trees when they have heavy crops.
Hybrid white oaks occur naturally in nature from crossbreeding, but they are few and far between. Morse gathered acorns from them and started his own grove. He gathers the acorns from those trees in the fall, stores them in a humidity-controlled refrigerator and plants them in January to be ready to sell as seedlings in the spring.
“We use air root pruning, which tricks the plant to grow more lateral roots in the top 12 in. of soil. This helps speed the process of nut production,” he explains. While the seedlings above ground are short, with twice as many roots, the trees grow 2 to 3 ft./year for about five years.
“In Michigan (Zone 5) we see them produce acorns regularly by the 5th year – and almost always by the 6th or 7th year,” Morse says. Minnesota (Zone 3) takes 5 to 9 years, while warm (Zone 8) states can produce acorns in just 3 years.
The seedlings sell for $4.50 to $6.50 each according to volume. Morse also offers older plants, starting at $11.50 for year-old plants. They are shipped in special packaging in containers with soil (not bare root).
Morse emphasizes that it’s important to know where the seed comes from when buying stock. His seedlings start from acorns grown in Michigan, so they are cold hardy for customers in places such as Minnesota, yet also adaptable to warmer climates.
In addition to hybrid oaks, he sells fruit trees, chestnut trees, crab apple trees, persimmon trees and many other varieties.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Charlie Morse, Morse Nursery, 12300 Betz Rd., Battle Creek, Mich. 49015 (ph 269 979-4252; www.morsenursery.com).
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