In part one of our post on how to identify a Missouri state champion tree in 2014, we laid out the parameters for what it takes to be a champion and how to properly measure the circumference of the tree. Basically, you have to have a naturalized or native tree to the area, something that has survived the ice age. Also, you have to measure the trunk’s circumference by starting 4.5 feet above the ground, making sure that the tape is wrapped tightly and evenly around the point in which you’re measuring.

In today’s post, we’ll be discussing how to measure crown spread and the height of your next Missouri champ.

Measuring Crown Spread

You can start measuring your tree’s crown spread by setting a stake directly under the outside edge of the crown furthest from the trunk. Typically, this has to be done following these two guidelines:

  • You have to measure another point directly opposite of the point you’ve identified on the other side. This should be a point at the outer edge of the crown.
  • The distance between these two points has to be measured on a line passing through the center of the tree.

After that, you’ll need to set stakes marking the shortest diameter of the crown passing the the center of the tree. For these two points, follow the above process, but be sure that you’re measuring the distance between the shortest points of the crown spread. All of these distances should be measured to the nearest foot with a tape measure. Add these two measurements together and divide the sum by two to get the average crown spread.

Measuring Height

The Missouri Department of Conservation defines height as the distance between the base and the top-most branch of the tree. Below is the simplest, most accurate way of measuring height:

  • Make a target which is a known height. Essentially, find a two-by-four that is five foot long and mark each inch of those 5 feet.
  • Place this target against the tree and make sure it’s visible as you walk away from the tree. Be sure that the target is 90 degrees vertical or your reading will not be true.
  • Find a yardstick, and with that yardstick, walk away from the tree up to the point where the five foot target fills exactly one inch of the yard stick.
  • Without moving the yard stick, sight the base of the tree to the top of the tree. While you do this, note how many inches of the yardstick is filled by the tree. Each inch is equal to five feet. For example, if the tree occupies 18 inches of the yardstick, then 18 times five equals 90 feet, or, the height of the tree.
  • Use the above system at several points around the tree to ensure you have found the truest, tallest point of the tree.