With its Hybrid SuperTree, Karsten Nursery says it can accelerate the establishment of a windbreak. This cross between Chinese and White Willows is sold mainly for windbreaks. A farmer or rancher can plant this species across a field and, within a short time, have a thick hedgerow to stop wind and snow.

The Karsten Nursery has been in the tree business for over 4 decades, first specializing in honeysuckles, green ash, and viburnum, but realized they had something special after propagating their hybrid willow.

“We planted 600 SuperTrees around our nursery and spent 5 years observing them before selling them,” says Joel Karsten. “Now, 30 years after that first planting, we have seen the tree’s entire life cycle and are very excited about how it has performed.”

With its fast growth and strength, the Hybrid SuperTree stands out from other windbreak species. The trees grow 10 to 14 ft. annually in some parts of the country. Karsten says they can be used as windbreaks within three years of planting. The SuperTrees grow in Zones 3-10.

They will grow almost anywhere. “We joke at our tree farm that the Hybrid SuperTrees could grow roots into the asphalt if we dug planting holes on the highway. Our customers tell us that this hybrid of the Salix grows in pure sand, heavy black clay, and everything in between.”

If you have poor soil, the best thing you can do is dig a larger planting hole, 1’x1’, and backfill it with 50/50 compost and virgin soil. As they get started, their roots will push out. If anything grows in the ground where you intend to plant it, you can expect it to grow there, too.

The SuperTree, unlike poplars, is less vulnerable to weak branches and broken limbs than other quick-growing trees. When the Derecho storm hit Iowa last summer, Karsten said. “I was glad to hear that our SuperTrees stayed in good shape. The SuperTrees bent over and popped back up after the other trees were completely shredded. We’ve sold more of them to farmers in that part of Iowa than ever before this spring.”

Because it’s a hybrid, the SuperTree doesn’t produce seeds or sucker roots, so it won’t take over wetlands or uncultivated areas like other willows. Plus, the tree’s wood makes excellent firewood. At the age of 15, you will begin to see dead branches in the tree’s upper crown. When the tree is 22-25 years old, it will have a few larger dead branches, and if it is in a high visibility area, you should take them and make firewood. If they are in a pasture or on the edge of the woods, you can leave them alone; they will fall over and rot at about 30-35 years. The SuperTrees will protect the slow-growing trees from damaging the ones that take 20 years to grow to a good size.

Karsten encourages their customers to think long-term and plant other trees with longer life expectancy. When they come down in 20-30 years, the other trees can take over for the next 150 years.

How big are the Hybrid SuperTrees when they are shipped? “Since they are alive and growing about 1/2” every day, we aim to ship them at 12-24”, but sometimes they are slightly longer. There will be leaves already growing on them. The root ball is about the size of a soda can, and there is a netting around it. Plant the net with the tree, and it will dissolve away, allowing the roots to burst through. We can ship these anywhere in the USA,” Karsten says.

While Karsten Nursery still sells over 100 other tree species, the Hybrid SuperTree consistently outsells the rest, and demand is on the rise.

Visit karstennursery.com for more information.