DNR FIELD NOTES
October 28, 2009
DNR Field Notes | Commentary: Seedling selection tips for small forest landowners
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Senior Communications Manager
Communications & Outreach Group
Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
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See seedling order info below.
Seedling selection tips for small forest landowners
By David Bergvall
DNR Small Forest Landowner Outreach Specialist
Fall is here and as the weather turns cool it’s time to think about tree planting, especially if you own working forestland – even a few acres –where you want to plant seedlings.
Large timberland owners and managers buy and grow seedlings by the millions, but owners of smaller working forests also can find affordable, high-quality seedlings of firs, spruces, pines and other species used in commercial forestry. Commercial forestry trees, by the way, grow very tall and are most definitely not right for city or suburban lots.
Price is important but professional foresters also look for the right seedling for the planting site. With all the effort of planting and protecting the seedlings against weeds and animal damage, you want to avoid failures.
Here are tips from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to find the right seedlings for your working forest. This knowledge comes from more than 50 years of experience at DNR’s Webster Forest Nursery, which produces between 8 million and 10 million seedlings annually to plant on DNR-managed state trust lands and for private citizens restocking their forestland.
- Choose an appropriate species. On the Westside, look for Douglas-fir, western redcedar, noble fir, western hemlock, western white pine, grand fir, red alder and Sitka spruce. East of the Cascades, there is ponderosa pine, western larch, and western white pine.
- Match seedlings to site. Variables include: elevation, soil type, weather, drainage, micro-climates, and exposure to sun and wind. If you do not have experience with site-specific evaluations, work with a consulting forester to avoid costly mistakes. If you are a small landowner on the state’s eastside you may qualify for free advice and other help from DNR stewardship foresters.
- Plant evenly. Even spacing allows seedlings to get adequate light, water and soil nutrients. To anticipate tree mortality, many foresters plant up to 300 trees per acre in the east (a tree in every 15 X 15-foot square) and 400 per acre in the west (a tree in every 11 X 11 feet square).
- Choose a stock type. The four major types:
• 2+0 bareroot seedlings – Seeds sown directly into a seed bed to grow for two years. These are the lowest-cost seedlings but also have the smallest root systems, greatest variability in size and the highest mortality. Use on sites with deep, moist soil and excellent weed control.
• 1+1 bareroot seedlings – Seeds sown into a seed bed to grow for one year, then transplanted into another bed at a low density for the second year. They cost more than the 2+0’s but their fibrous root system makes them the workhorse for reforestation in Western Washington.
• P+1 bareroot seedlings – Seed sown into a small plug of soil and grown in a greenhouse for the first year, then transplanted into another bed at low density for the second year. This technique is used for species with small hard-to-sow seeds, such as western redcedar, western hemlock, Sitka spruce and red alder.
• Plug or container seedlings – Seed sown into large (8 to 15 cubic inches) plugs of soil and grown, usually in a greenhouse, for one year. At one-year, they are large enough to be planted on your site. Easy to plant but more expensive, these are best for Eastern Washington and Westside sites with shallow soils.
You can find these stock types at private nurseries that specialize in forestry. Other sources are forestry consultants or DNR’s Webster Forest Nursery, which sells seedlings to the public each September through May. Trees start at $1 each for the minimum order of 100 but there are greater discounts for buying in volume. Call 1-877-890-2626 to see what’s available.
Contact DNR’s Small Forest Landowner Office Call 360-902-1400 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about federal and state programs aimed at small forestland owners (cost-share funding is available in several eastside counties.)
THIS ARTWORK IS AVAILABLE FOR USE WITH THIS ARTICLE WITHOUT RESTRICTION. Please credit to: Jane Chavey / DNR
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More information about:
Small Forest Landowner Office: http://www.dnr.wa.gov/BusinessPermits/Topics/SmallForestLandownerOffice/Pages/fp_sflo_overview.aspx
NOTE: DNR’s Webster Forest Nursery has thousands of healthy tree seedlings for sale ready for planting. Check out the current inventory and prices online. http://www.dnr.wa.gov/BusinessPermits/Topics/WebsterForestNursery/Pages/about_webster_nursery.aspx
WSU Directory of private consulting foresters: http://ext.nrs.wsu.edu/publications/forestry/consultingdirectory.htm
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