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In July of 2017, the Mo-Ranch facilities and grounds staff had the pleasure of meeting with renowned botanist, Dr. Don Smith, to discuss the future of our well-known Pecan Grove and what steps we can make to prevent them from dying.

As a regular Mo-Ranch Men’s Conference attendee, Don noticed the dire state of our post oaks in the common picnic area during the conference and was called to reach out to the ranch and offer his expertise.

Don spent 44 years as a professor at the University of North Texas and has dedicated much of his life to the preservation of these natural resources and ways to promote a healthy growing environment. He holds a Ph.D. in Agronomy from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, has served as an advisor for campuses throughout the state and has served as a Presbyterian elder for more than 50 years.

In March 2006, Don and his colleague Peter Martin patented methods and mixtures for treating distressed trees to specifically care for Post Oaks. The Post Oak is a magnificent wild organism that grows only from acorns and almost never can be transplanted. It grows on dry ground, can weather drought and its thick bark makes the tree resistant to wild fires, decay and borers and other insects. Notwithstanding, Post Oaks are still highly sensitive to human encroachment, and thus require care and attention whenever such encroachment on the Post Oak’s domain begins to cause distress.

“It is easy to spot those trees that are in distress. Just look through the canopy. If you see very much sky, the tree is in trouble,” Smith said.

Don brought to light the ranch’s tree problem—without the trees there would be less shade from the harsh Texas sun, nor the beauty of the foliage that Mo-Ranch is known for. During his volunteer visit to the ranch, he shared with us his “magical” formula of fertilizer and growth hormone to preserve our Post Oaks, and educated our groundskeepers with the proper techniques and skills needed to prolong their lives for years to come.

“We are grateful for Don’s expertise on the subject and learned a lot of great information during this stay with us here at Mo,” states Mark Perhamus, director of facilities and security.

Thanks to Don, our staff now has the knowledge to maintain our gorgeous trees and help them thrive.



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