by Jean Ferdinandsen, Certified Arborist WI-0149A
The dictionary defines a champion as one that holds first place or prize in a contest. Wisconsin has a “Champion Tree” program to help establish and document the first place winner of a particular tree species in the state. Total points are awarded for the circumference, height, and crown spread of the tree. The combined points determine the champion.
Wachtel Tree Science and Service has been honored and privileged to care for the champion bur oak in Wisconsin. This tree has a mighty circumference of 249 inches, a height of 55 feet, and spread of 80 feet. Just the sheer size is impressive, let alone the fact that it is estimated to have started from an acorn in the late 1700s.
The tree had extensive pruning needs. Large amounts of dead wood were present, as no recent pruning had been done. The tree had also sustained lightening strikes that had killed a central portion. Pruning, consisting of crown cleaning and removing dead wood greater than 1/2" in diameter, was done during the winter to avoid possible exposure to oak wilt.
The tree is in a relatively undisturbed area, and the property owners are well aware of this tree’s significance and value to their property. The only other care recently given to this tree was a soil mycorrhizae inoculation to increase root uptake and drought tolerance.
Remember that every tree Wachtel Tree Science and Service deals with is treated as a champion.