A Guide to the Care and Planting of Southern Pine Seedlings

Despite constantly improving reforestation technology, many public and private forestry organizations report declines in early survival in southern pine plantations. Experienced managers have come to expect lower survival than they were used to 20 to 30 years ago, and they are seeing failures that cannot be attributed to insects, diseases, or adverse weather. The most common reasons for these failures are breakdowns in what can be thought of as the "reforestation system." At various points between the nursery bed and the field planting site, seedlings are "critically wounded" by events that workers consider to be insignificant. Combinations of these "insignificant events" add up to poor seedling survival or complete plantation failure.

Harvesting Southern Pines

Most southern pine timber is harvested by independent logging contractors. Lesser amounts are harvested by logging crews employed directly by larger corporate wood-using organizations and by landowners themselves. Although the chances are that you will not harvest timber yourself, an understanding of what is involved in harvesting will better enable you to deal with prospective timber purchasers and work with the successful bidder for your timber.

Marketing Southern Pines

The economic future for timber products is sound. Projections indicate that the timber supply will fall short of demand, increasing timber stumpage prices and returns to the timberland owner. Timber historically has increased in value 2 percent a more above the annual inflation rate. This has been achieved during times of good timber supply. But, with the timber supply decreasing rapidly, returns on investment could show annual rates of 10 percent and more over the next timber growth cycle in the South.

Reforestation of North Carolina’s Pines

The Southern pines may reproduce themselves more successfully in most cases when special efforts are made to encourage regeneration. But first, owners should allow time to begin planning reforestation well in advance of the harvest cut. Such problems as understory vegetation control, site or seedbed preparation, and source of seed or seedlings must all be examined. Either artificial regeneration that involves planting seed or seedlings, or natural regeneration which relies on existing seedlings or seeds may be used. The practice of “letting nature take its course” often results in poor stands of low quality hardwood.

Regenerating Southern Pines

The needs for pine timber in the United States are expected to double in the next 40 years. The South is expected to supply over half of the nation's pine timber at that time. To meet these needs, the pine forests of the future must be established in the 1980's. If this is to be accomplished, two factors loom important. Frst, over 70 percent of the total southern timberlands are owned by private, non-industrial owners; and second, only one of every nine harvested acres is currently being regenerated by this non-industrial ownership. Consequently, if future needs for pine timber are to be satisfied, regeneration and management of their forests for pine production must be prime objectives of private, non-industrial owners of southern forestlands.

Southern Pine Forests

Of the 200 million acres of commercial forest land in the 13 southern states, 18½ million acres are publicly owned, 36½ million acres are owned by wood-based industries, and by far the lion's share, 145 million acres, belongs to private individuals and groups. U.S. Forest Service reports indicate that 94 million acres of southern forest land support, in whole or in part, commercial quantities of at least one of the four major southern pine species.

A Southern Pine Management Guide for Tennessee Landowners

Forestry’s impact upon Tennessee is inescapable. The wood products industry contributes more than $21 billion annually to the state economy and employs 184,000 workers.1 There are 14.4 million acres of forestland across the state, more than half the land base, and nearly 70 percent of these lands are owned by private, non-industrial landowners. Tennessee prides itself upon being one of the nation’s largest producers of hardwood timber, but 1.2 million acres of our forests are comprised of southern yellow pines.

Steps to Successful Pine Plantings

Successful pine plantings require a well-prepared site, quality seedlings, proper storage and field care of seedlings, and timely planting by a crew trained in proper planting techniques. Most landowners contract with a vendor for such services. This note gives information on (1) key clauses to include in any contract and (2) conditions which affect seedling survival and early growth.

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