Tree planting is obviously a critical step in a productive timber enterprise. The fertilizer, genetics and site preparation treatments don't make a difference if the stand is not planted correctly. The following conditions must be met in order for a planted stand to grow successfully:
- The species must be suited to the site (species selection)
- The ground must be prepared properly for planting (site preparation)
- The seedlings must be handled properly.
- The seedlings must be planted correctly.
- The plantation must receive proper care.
UF/IFAS Extension Publication
Before You Order the Seedlings:
- Decide on the right species for the site and your objectives.
- Decide on the spacing before you order the seedlings (divide the square feet of space required for each seedling into 43,560 to calculate the number of trees to be planted per acre).
- Be sure to accommodate fire lines by providing a space of 10 to 12 feet between some rows and around the perimeter of the stand.
- Be sure to have a planting crew organized before you order the seedlings.
Before You Plant:
- Store the seedlings in cool storage if you can't plant immediately after receiving the seedlings. Do not expose the seedlings to extremely high or low temperatures.
- Do not plant when the soil is either unusually wet or dry.
- Use the right tools for planting. You should at least have a planting bar (or dibble) and a container for the seedlings.
- If machine planting, hire an experienced contractor, especially if you are planting longleaf pine.
- The roots of the seedlings must be kept moist during the planting operation.
- Check the number of seedlings still alive after 6 to 8 months after planting.
- If 300 well-distributed seedlings survive per acre, it probably will not pay to replant.
- If the planting results are unsatisfactory, replanting can be done the following year. If you wait longer than one year, do not replant within 20 feet of an established seedling because the new seedlings will not compete with the older ones.
UF/IFAS and Southern Regional Extension Forestry Publications
- Planting Soutehrn Pines in Florida
- Measuring Seedling Survival and Planting Quality
- Planting Longleaf?
Longleaf Pine Regeneration
Keep in mind that planting is probably the most important step in establishing a healthy, vigorous, profitable pine plantation. Pine plantations sometimes fail after a lot of money is invested in site preparation and fertilization because the planting operation was not done properly.
Careful attention to detail during this phase of the process is very important!