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.

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.

Tree Planting Procedure for Small, Bare-Root Seedlings

Tree seedlings receive foremost care while growing in a managed nursery: fertile soil; ample moisture; and weed, insect and disease control. Lifting seedlings out of this comfort zone shocks them. If key steps are not carefully followed during handling and planting, mortality rate rises. Both hardwood and pine seedling survival is more likely if attention is given to the points made in this publication.