Tree Spades?

Discussion in 'Nurseries and Growers' started by Johnson Lawn & Landscape, Mar 8, 2011.

  1. Johnson Lawn & Landscape

    Johnson Lawn & Landscape LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Hi, I'm looking for some feedback relating to Tree Spades. Specifically the "Erskine" brand tree spade. I am in need of a spade for the purposes of Ball and Burlapping field grown trees. 1. Will this spade hold up? 2. Is there a better brand or type of spade for my application? 3. Looking for best bang for my buck? Thanks for any help that can be offered.
  2. allinearth

    allinearth LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 614

    I haven't checked out erskine, but I will now. I have been researching for about a year. I would like to buy for a skid steer. Looks to me like Optimal would be the way to go but def not the cheapest. Anyone got any feedback on Optimal? How bout a used one for sale?
  3. tenndigger

    tenndigger LawnSite Member
    Messages: 54

    I have been machine digging trees for close to 40 years. I have owned just about every brand. I am not familiar with the erskine brand. I primarily use Caretree and Dutchman tree spades. I do own an Optimal tree spade it has its place in nursery production but we cannot use it on certain varieties of plants. If you are just digging a few plants then the less expensive tree spades may do the job but if you need wholesale nursery production then the well known spades hold up much better.
    I have noticed several nice tree spades for sale this spring. What size spade do you need and what are you planning to mount it on?
  4. Dtreefarm

    Dtreefarm LawnSite Member
    Messages: 24

    Im not familiar with erskine. Around here its dutchman, caretree and lemar.

    I lean towards dutchman. Hard to beat for durability, reliability day in, day out. All edges are round or have been rounded off also, saves on tree-shrub foliage and bark.

    Lemar boast all of the same features. Second only because of price, they kinda the rolls royce of spades.

    Caretree well, seen more of these sharp edged every were things with busted hinge pins, bent blades and quickly wearing nylon 'slides'. But they are affordable and number in the 100's around here.

    I know of three tree farms that have left caretree altogether and went dutchman.

    I have only eleven years in this gig and sub-out my digging But, I am very involved with the digging from operating the spade, to pinning and crimping and loading trees.

    A lot has to happen in a short amount of time and a bum spade REALLY kills the moment that needs to happen.
  5. tenndigger

    tenndigger LawnSite Member
    Messages: 54

    Good infor Dtreefarm. I agree with your assessment of Dutchman, I own one and am extremely pleased. I consider Dutchman and Red Boss to be basically the same spade. Caretree has lost a lot of marketshare so they redesigned their spade to compete. New design looks much better and should hold up better. Many in my area are diehard blue fans. I have looked at Lemar, never seen one operate but have heard excellent things from western growers.
  6. Dtreefarm

    Dtreefarm LawnSite Member
    Messages: 24

    Thanks tenndigger.....

    I have not been around the redboss spades. I sent off for a catalog of red boss products and from the pictures in the catalog, they do just look like a red dutchman:laugh:

    Yea, blue has a following here too... but the loyalty is loosing ground as blue is being replaced by yellow by alot of farms around. Myself, I have not even bothered to look at the newer caretrees. When it comes time for a spade purchase, probably be a dutchman.

    So, I guess my thoughts on an erskine spade so as to not hijack the thread totally.... would be to shy away and look for a good used dutchman or another better known brand.

    BUT.... if you are only digging 20-50 trees a year, erskine might just do. My experience has only been in higher volume digging, 50 to 100 trees a day with a experienced, dedicated crew. And knowing what it takes just to do that, you have enough problems with weather alone to get everything dug in the SHORT time frame not having to battle busted rigging.....
  7. Travel'n Trees

    Travel'n Trees LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 631

    I have a big john 45 skid mount with a wired remote more roots and bigger ball where roots are better livability, I have a 65 truck mount, and a 90 on a truck. All for sale we are moving a different direction
    Posted via Mobile Device
  8. quickmow

    quickmow LawnSite Member
    Messages: 35

    Dutchman has been good for me!!
  9. GrassRootsKS

    GrassRootsKS LawnSite Member
    Messages: 1

    I don't own a spade, however I've been helping my local farm dig trees for the last couple of winters. Like has been said, a lot has to happen in a few months with rain, snow, mud, installation and delivery thrown in so get a spade that will hold up! The farm's been digging 900-1000 trees starting after thanksgiving thro the end of April with a 14 or 15 year old Caretree that they bought 10 years ago. I think that says a lot about it's durability. Factory refrubished Caretrees can be bought fairly reasonably, too. But I think any well known brand like Optimal or Dutchman would be just as good mabye better. Good luck to you, Johnson!
  10. milanis

    milanis LawnSite Member
    Messages: 12

    Most of the tree spade specs offered by the manufacturers are understated in weight, that is, if they say it weighs 1500 lbs, you can be sure it's at least 10% more than that, so be careful when checking out any of them as you may not have enough lift capacity to lift the tree out of the ground once it's in the spade!

    Weight considerations aside, the old, pre-redesign Caretree spades are better than the newer ones. The new design was ill-conceived according to some that worked there, and had numerous warranty issues that never were resolved. As a result, they went out of business. The late model Caretrees just before the redesign were excellent machines, and if in reasonable shape when you buy one, should last for many years. Parts are still available through some ex-employees that bought up spares and manufacture some others themselves.
    I believe their name is Pritchard's who also deal in Optimal spades.

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