Red cedar windbreak offers needed shelter
The red cedar windbreak at the farmstead and cattle ranch of Richard and Mary VanTuyl is almost 20 years old. It now protects the house better than ever, they say.
"You can tell the difference when you step around the end of the trees," Richard VanTuyl said.
This year's winner of the Bankers' Windbreak Award goes to the VanTuyls, who built their home on 175th Street south of Dempsey Road in 1979, and began planting trees in 1981.
The 260-foot-long tree row north of their driveway and house is made up of about 45 trees that the Dempseys planted themselves. "We pulled trees out of a guy's pasture near Easton," Richard VanTuyl said. "They were all about 18-inches tall."
The VanTuyls harvested their trees in the springtime.
"We waited till the ground was moist, pulled them up and put eight to 10 of them of them in a bucket," VanTuyl said.
Of the trees planted, they only lost one.
This, they credit to conscientious watering for the first two to three years, to construction of a berm alongside the seedlings to help hold the water and to weed control.
Mary VanTuyl said the windbreak helps attract birds to the farmstead.
Sy Nyhart, Leavenworth County extension agent, said red cedars make one of the best windbreaks in this part of the state.
"We've been having so much trouble with the pines, so more and more we're advocating the eastern red cedars, because they're native," Nyhart said.
Maintenance on the cedars has been minimal, the VanTuyls explained.
Except for bagworms. Several years ago, the bagworms were so thick that they were even hanging from the power lines above the trees, VanTuyl said.
Spraying for bagworms has a problem, in part because the trees are against a neighbor's field and spraying could harm their neighbor's crop.
Overall, the biggest problem with red cedar windbreaks is that birds spread the seeds of the cedars and they end up growing in pastures, according to Gary Radar, district conservationist with Natural Resources Conservation Service.
However, he said, mowing when the trees are small will generally eradicate them.
Nyhart said there aren't a lot of new windbreaks going up in Leavenworth County. However, trees are available for people who want them.
"We do sell trees for the forest service every year," Nyhart said. "And every year they'll be several thousand trees planted somewhere in the county."