Lee Lutz started Lutz Corporation almost 25 years ago, when he was already in his 60’s. The mission of the Lutz Corporation was simple and straightforward: First, to provide products that are truly needed by our customers. Second, to provide those products at a fair price. Third, to support our customers with personalized, first-class service.
He passed away on May 26, 2011 and his son, Jim Lutz, now continues his legacy of service as the Lutz Corporation President. We
have posted the full obituary for Lee Lutz on this website so that you
can have a greater sense of this extraordinary man’s life.
The following is from a presentation my father, Lee Lutz, put together on Lutz
Corporation shortly after we began business back in the early 90's.
I propose to give you a brief history of Lutz Spikes, a comparison of
Lutz Spikes with other treatment methods, and what some users have to
say about their experiences using Lutz Spikes. At the conclusion I will
do my best to answer any questions you may have at that time.
Lutz Spikes came into being as a result of a chance conversation
between a couple of old friends, Lee Lutz of Oregon, IL and Charles
Lewison, Certified Golf Course Superintendent at Dunedin Country Club at
Dunedin, FL. Back in 1988, Lewison was telling Lutz about the
difficulties he was having in applying Manganese fertilizer to the 393
Palms he had at Dunedin.
Lewison was following the University of Florida's recommendation of
one to five pounds of Manganese Sulfate per Palm, depending on Palm size
and degree of deficiency. As a result of doing this Dunedin's Palms
weren't deficient but the drill and pour application process Lewison had
settled on was cumbersome. Although it got the best results of the four
commonly used methods, it was labor intensive and tedious. It required
protective clothing for the operators, drilling holes and pouring the
powder into the holes. It was a three person job to handle a portable
generator, drill, pour and transport.
Lewison had tried the three other conventional alternatives for
applying Manganese — — — broadcasting, liquid injection with a water
carrier, and folier spray, and in his judgment felt they had even
greater drawbacks then drill and pour. Lewison felt broadcast treatments
tended to help the turf more than the tree roots and were subject to
leaching and premature breakdown from the sun. He felt the injections
with a water carrier dissipated too quickly, and had found that foliar
sprays required frequent applications to be effective over the long
As a result of these conversations, Lutz had a Manganese Sulfate
Spike custom manufactured. The Spike is a 5.5 ounce Manganese Sulfate
Spike which contains 20% Manganese, 16% Sulfur, and 4% Nitrogen. These
Spikes are five and ¼ inches long. At that time an N-P-K analysis was
the only available spike for trees.
Lutz then developed an injection device called the Lutz Fast/Feeder.
This is a three foot long metal rod with a T handle, a foot pedal and a
sharp beveled head which makes an eight inch deep opening for the
Tests were then made at Dunedin using the spike method on twenty-five
Palms and the customary drill and pour method for applying Manganese on
three hundred and sixty Palms.
The other eight Palms were left untreated for comparison purposes.
Each tree treated by the drill and pour and the Lutz spikes received the
same total ounces of Manganese.
In doing these tests, Mr. Lewison found that one person using the
Fast/Feeder and Spikes could feed as many trees in the same time as two
"three person" teams using the drill and pour system.
Each month for a period of six months Lewison compared the two
treatment methods on performance. He found that both methods produced
excellent results and both showed a striking difference when compared to
the untreated trees. It was found that the drill and pour method took
effect slightly sooner. But by the sixth month after treatment, Lewison
found that the Spike treatment was lasting longer and some of the Palms
that were treated by drill and pour were again showing signs of
Manganese deficiency. To determine why this was happening they dug down
to check where they had placed the spikes and the powder. It was found
that about fifty percent of each spike had been used up. They were not
able to find any traces of the powdered Manganese.
This confirmed some soil testing research by Dr. Arvel Hunter of Agro
Services International of Orange City Florida. Dr. Hunter found that
seventy percent or more of powdered fertilizer is lost after ten inches
of water, that is, rain plus irrigation.
During this time, while working with the University of Florida on the
Manganese Spikes, the University brought to the attention of Lutz that
Magnesium and Potassium were also common deficiencies in Palm trees. In
response to this, Lutz formulated the Magnesium and Potassium Spikes.
Lutz then had spikes for the three most common deficiencies in Palms, that is, Manganese, Magnesium, and Potassium.
Then to meet the requests of many customers for a general
fertilizer spike for healthy Palms, Lutz introduced the Maintenance
Spike for maintaining and enhancing the beauty of healthy Palms. The
Lutz Maintenance Spike contains 6% Nitrogen, 6% Potassium, 6% Manganese,
6% Magnesium, 1% Iron, .5% Copper and 10% Sulfur. The Lutz Maintenance
Spikes are recommended for use on healthy Palms to keep them from
succumbing to Mn, Mg, and K deficiencies and for Palms that have
recovered from Mn, Mg, and K deficiencies as a result of using the
Lutz felt that having the three deficiency spikes could cause some
confusion in their use. Thus, working in conjunction with Dr. T.K.
Broschet at the University of Florida, Lutz produced the Symptoms and
Treatments of Common Palm Tree Deficiency brochure. Its purpose is to
assist people in diagnosing the deficiencies they may have in their
Palms, thus avoiding inappropriate treatments.
It takes from two to ten Lutz Spikes for treatment depending on the size of the Palm and the severity of the deficiency.
Lutz Spikes are not inexpensive compared to the other methods when
considered on a per treatment basis. But when longevity 1s factored in,
Lutz Spikes are most often less expensive than the other methods of
folier spray, liquid injection, drill and pour and broadcasting. The
average annual cost per treatment per Palm with Lutz spikes is about
$1.40 to $7.00 per Palm.
One other problem with broadcasting Manganese, which some of you may
have encountered is a problem of staining walks, walls, pools, etc. Tru
Green- Chemlawn of Florida had been having these staining problems when
they heard of the Lutz Manganese Spike. After extensive testing of the
Manganese Spike and the other Lutz Spikes, Tru Green – Chemlawn started
using Lutz Spikes in their Palm tree feeding and renovation programs.
Erica Santella, Tru Green — Chemlawn Regional Technical Manager, says:
- "The Lutz Spikes perform very
well. We are pleased with the visual results we are getting with them.
They have been a good product for us."
Here is some other Lutz Spike customer experiences I thought might be of interest.
Mr. Donald Delano from Fairplex, which comprises the Los Angeles County Fair and Exposition Complex, has this to say:
- "We have a fair number of Palms,
as do many large areas in Southern California, and most of which were
exhibiting classic deficiency symptoms. Yellowing or necrosis of the
fronds with age and some with frizzle top. Granular top applications
were working, but over/under applications were problems, as were fairly
often repeat applications. As I had hoped and anticipated, the spikes
have worked quite well on our Palms. I am currently planning orders for
our second year application.
- One grouping of
Canary Island Date Palms that have been in raised planters for the last
20 years have shown drastic improvements. Alexander's that were
consistently dropping fronds early are now holding heads of 8 to 12
fronds. Drastically up from 1 to 5 fronds from only 8 months ago. It is
staggering to see the difference. They work so well that this year all
Palms are going to be treated with the stakes.
- I have also used them successfully in treating some problems with Sequoias and Redwoods."
Mr. Jon Klement of the Valley Garden Center in McAllen, Texas reports:
- "we have been using the Lutz Palm
Tree Maintenance Spike for about two years. They have outperformed
similar granular type fertilizers by correcting nutrient deficiencies
more effectively. We also recommend them to our retail customers."
Mrs. Sharon Anger of Luckett Road Nursery in Ft Lauderdale, is a Florida State Certified Nursery Professional. She reports:
- "Palms are the predominant tree here. Fort Myers is the City of Palms."
- "Most Palms are
susceptible to manganese deficiency. The Queen Palm, the Canary Island
Date, and the Pigmy Date. We had been treating with granular material
which doesn't work very well. It seems the trees were getting either
more or less than they needed. When I saw a Lutz spike on display at a
Landscape supplier, I thought this would be a better way. Using the
spikes is not as messy as the granular, it's neater. It's not as
unsightly as the granular. It's safer than handling the granular and you
don't need to measure or guess. The cost is more, but the labor saving
offsets this. So I bought fifteen cases of Manganese and Magnesium
spikes and started treating in January 1993."
- "we used both
spikes on all trees. We used spikes on three hundred trees and missed
one Canary Island date and this year there is an amazing difference in
appearance. The big difference is in the fonds and color of the tree we
missed. It's not growing and is not as healthy and the fonds are
chlorotic (yellowish). The others are a dark deep blue green. It's like
day and night. If we hadn't missed the one tree we would have never
realized the extent to how effective the spikes are."
- "As a result of this, I routinely used the spikes in 1994. We will start using the Maintenance spikes in '95.
Dr. Kyle Brown of Lake City Community College in Lake City, Florida had this to say:
- "I have already received my Palm
Maintenance Spikes for this season. They have been doing an excellent
Job. I will be applying them to additional Palms this year while holding
off spikes on those tree treated last year. I am trying to determine if
the spikes are good for two seasons."
Mr. Tom Garvey of Perma Green Lawn core in ElCaJon, California reports:
- "We have been using your Spikes and they have been doing a terrific job for us."
Earl J. Wolfe Jr. of Indialantic, Florida has quite a bit to say about the Lutz Spikes. He says:
- "The Palm tree that was brought
back with ten of your Manganese Spikes is still doing fine with a full
crown of eight deep green fronds! Also the cluster Palms in the center
of the front yard are doing great along with the ten cent store
Philodendrons which are growing up the Palm trunks. The Philodendrons
now have huge leaves that have grown almost up to the Palm crowns and
the only thing they have had as far as food is concerned, is eight of
your Manganese Spikes that I put around the cluster Palms. Another
species of plant that likes your Manganese Spikes is "Exoria". They get
the run off from the Palm and they are looking better than ever. They
have deep green leaves with clusters of numerous red flowers. Again, the
only thing that was done differently was about ten of your Manganese
Leslie Boyles of Lumberjack Tree Service & Paradise Palms, Inc.
of Upland, California has been using the Lutz Potassium Spike and
Maintenance Spikes for about two years now and has this to report:
- "Both have performed well for us.
Our applications have been hotels with tropical atriums and commercial
business' with an average of 30 Palms. They also sell well to the
average residential accounts of about 2 to 6 Palms. A few days after I
mailed you a note of favorable comments, Rick came in from one of our
regular accounts of 57 Palms and he was quite excited. He said that five
months ago, as he was trimming the Palms, he noticed a slight crack in
the head of one 60 footer. He didn't feel it was safe enough to climb
and recommended removal. The customer asked if there was any other
solution and Rick said he could try the Lutz Spikes and see what
happens. He then fed the Palm 9 spikes (4 of the Potassium and 5 of the
Maintenance). Now, 5 months later he climbed the tree and was surprised
to discover that the crack was totally mended. We thought you'd like to
Mr. Lutz also suggested something to me should you have Sago Palms
that are turning spotty and yellow in the summer. He reports that many
of their customers in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina have been
using the Manganese Spikes to solve this problem. Treated Sagos go
through the season holding a good green color. The application rates are
the same as Palms. That is a Sago six inches across at the base uses
about two spikes and so on, placing the spikes as close to the rootball
The Manganese spike has also been used effectively on transplanted
Palms. Transplanted Palms will often display a Manganese deficiency
after about six months or so. As an example, Mr. Gary Lewison of Florida
had eight Palms transplanted on his property. They were Queen, Phoenix,
and Pinto varieties. Six months after planting these Palms were not
looking good so Mr. Lewison treated each of them with four to six of the
Manganese spikes. He reports "In about four weeks we began to notice a
marked improvement. After that they really greened up."
To pre-empt this problem nurseries in Florida and Texas are starting
to put the Manganese Spikes down when they transplant the Palms. Mr.
Eric Putnam is a certified arborist and owner of Arbor - Tech
Consulting, Baycliff TX a suburb of Houston. Mr. Putnam reported the
- "I do general tree servicing and
advising. I believe I am the best tree doctor in the area. Palms are a
sideline I do in partnership with my brother, Leif, who operates Putnam
Tree Service. I troubleshoot tree problems for homeowners and businesses
in the Houston, Lake Galveston area. I handle all types of trees. We
import the Palms from Florida. All Palms in the area are imported."
- "I read an ad
for Lutz Manganese spikes in ALDQL Age magazine two years ago and it
struck a chord with me, because I was having problems with the Palms we
were selling and transplanting, which we guarantee. They just weren't
growing. They were stunted. We had to replace about half of the trees we
sold. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. When I saw the Manganese
spikes in the ad, I thought that might be the answer. We eventually
bought several cases of manganese spikes and started using them. We used
a shovel to insert them."
- "we used one
spike per inch of trunk diameter. The trees vary from 10 to 24 inches in
diameter. The trees are "hurricane cut" which means they look like
utility poles when they arrive in Texas. They are from 12 to 21 feet
- "We inserted the
spikes just outside the perimeter of the hole, and we could see a
difference within a week. Trees grew four to seven inches in that first
week and continued rapid growth for the first several weeks. The growth
was very evident. The trees maintained good growth until reaching
maturity. Within eight months they had full heads. That's unheard of.
They also had a nice dork green color."
- "What's really
impressive is that we transplanted one Palm without the spikes, and it
barely put on a hoed within a full year. Those planted later with
spikes, have passed it in growth and remain bigger."
- "In the past we had used high nitrogen spikes, but they weren't doing the job."
- "We now use the
Lutz Spikes routinely on all the freshly transplanted Palms we sell. We
won't guarantee a tree unless we use the manganese spikes. We need to
charge more per tree to cover the cost of the spikes, but as a result of
using the manganese spikes we reduced our replacing down to around 3%."
The Manganese Spikes are being used on other northern trees as well.
It started a little over three years ago by a Mr. Chuck Vostry of
Vostry Lawn care in Bolingbrook, IL a suburb southwest of Chicago, IL.
Typically, the home builders in such areas, after completing a
development leave yards that have a thin layer of top soil and lots of
compacted clay underneath. There's also a high soil ph. It's obviously a
poor growing environment for young trees.
Mr. Vostry wrote:
- "Many of the trees around here
are silver maples, red maples and river birch. A lot of them just didn't
look very healthy. I talked with arboretum specialists (at the
widely—known Arboretum in Lisle, IL.) and learned that many of the trees
were deficient in manganese. As a result, I began treating same of them
with a manganese—iron liquid formulation, but it tended to wash away
before fully taking effect."
- "I was getting
frustrated and concerned because I couldn't be of more help to my
customers. If you don't get results they start giving up on you."
- "Then I happened
to read about Lutz Manganese Spikes for fertilizing Palm trees.
According to the reports, golf courses in Florida were utilizing
manganese and magnesium spikes on their Palms with good success. I like
to experiment, so I figured I'd give the manganese spikes a try on a few
maples and birches."
- "I had a
customer with three silver maples...and they were not looking good. I
treated one of them with manganese spikes in the fall of 1991. By the
spring of 1993 it had twice the number of buds and leaves as the two
untreated trees, and much better color."
- "I also treated
12 more trees and monitored them for the next two years. They didn't
show on overnight change. But — they gradually become healthier...more
leaves, greater growth and better color."
- "Customer response was very encouraging, and I'm now expanding the treatment program."
- "The spikes are
fairly simple to use. I just stick a four inch shovel five inches in the
ground and push it forward to make on opening, drop in a spike and then
tromp over the opening."
- "I use
approximately one spike for each inch of trunk diameter, inserting them
at the drip line. It takes less than 15 minutes to insert 10 or so
I appreciate your giving me the opportunity to tell you about Lutz Tree Spikes.
If you have any questions at all, at this time, I'll do my best to answer them for you.