Planting trees for tomorrow

Humboldt Correspondent

Register/Vada Aikins
Joe Works stands next to thousands of trees he planted on property east of Humboldt on Georgia Road.

HUMBOLDT — Joe Works’ love of trees has many roots.
“I just like trees, as you can tell by all the trees at my home,” Works said.
Works’ love for trees prompted him to plant several thousand on both the west and east sideS of Humboldt.
“My interest in walnut goes back about 20 years when I had a saw mill. I love the smell of walnut when it is cut.”
About three years ago Works planted 3,000 walnut trees on ground he owns west of the river.
“I got those trees through the Kansas State University Forest government program,” Works said.
“Then I read about walnut seedlings from Purdue University. They were improved walnut varieties that grow faster, straighter and taller.”
Works purchased some of the modified trees from Purdue to replace those that died from the first planting.
Works spaced the trees 12 feet apart. “This crowds them so they grow and naturally prune the lower branches,” he said. “My plans are to just let them grow for log production.” Works said the trees will take 50 or 60 years to get to that point.
“When my employees found out about my love of the saw mill they decided, as a Christmas gift last year, that they would get the mill up and going again for me,” Works said with a smile.
Recently, Works planted walnut, black cherry and red oak on the north side of Georgia Road by Coal Creek bridge.
East of Humboldt, south of Georgia Road, he set out 2,000 southern red oak, saw tooth oak, sycamore, red maple, black gum and walnut trees on property he intends for a housing development.
The trees are tiny at this point, no more than a foot high, nestled in plastic tree protectors intended to give them a fighting chance against rabbits and other predators. “It is also good to help locate the trees until they get bigger,” Works said.
Works plans to use the trees to landscape the future housing development, so they are set close together — only two to three feet apart — to simplify locating them for transplanting.
Works used a special machine from a government agriculture organization to plant the trees. Protectors are placed around each tree.
“The protectors I use are translucent, letting the small trees get light,” Works said. “They are also solid and that allows us to spray weed and grass killer close to the tree.” The protectors can be left on until the trees are quite large, Works said.
Most of the species Works planted can live hundreds of years, ensuring Humboldt will have a beautiful urban forest for years to come.