Site Preparation – Key Questions to Make Sure You Get It Right
Article by Geoffrey Lee Hill, RF, CF
Appropriate site preparation on a cutover tract or old field site is important before planting pine seedlings. It reduces the woody and herbaceous weed component to facilitate planting. It also controls woody and herbaceous weed competition, so the young seedlings survive and thrive in their first growing season. It’s important to ask the right questions to make sure you get the best seedling growth possible. Along with your consulting forester, our Reforestation Advisors trained and experienced in silviculture techniques are also available to help in this process.
The first step is to assess your site. There are several variables to review in the site assessment which will determine the optimal site prep treatments.
Is it an old field? When and what Ag crops were grown there? What species of herbaceous weeds will be a challenge? What is the soil texture and pH? Does it have a hard-pan (plow-pan) layer that needs to be sub-soiled?
Is it a pine plantation cutover? When was it harvested-are Pales weevils a concern? If you decide to chemically site-prepare the tract, will the hardwood stump sprouts be 18” tall by the time to spray? How much woody debris and residual trees are present? What species were planted there before? Are the rows of stumps evenly distributed due to past machine-planting, or was it hand-planted? Was it bedded during the last rotation? Does it need bedding for the next rotation? Does it have a hard-pan layer that needs to be sub-soiled? Is there volunteer pine recruitment to consider? Are there non-native, invasive species to consider?
Is it a natural stand cutover? When was the tract harvested-are Pales weevils a concern? If you decide to chemically site-prepare the tract, will the hardwood stump sprouts be 18” tall by the time to spray? How much woody debris and how many residual trees are present? What species were present in the last rotation? What is the drainage class? Can it be effectively site-prepared to grow pine? Is there volunteer pine recruitment to consider? Are there non-native, invasive species to consider?
Overarching questions would be: What are your objectives for the next stand? What are your local markets? What is your site quality to begin with? What site preparation, genetics, and silvicultural options do you have to increase the inherent site quality? What is your budget? Is cost-share available? Can you burn the woody debris during site preparation? What site preparation contractors are available to help? Will you manage the operation or work with a forestry consultant?
Although this list of questions may appear to be daunting, a methodical review will allow you to reach the best decisions.
To help you with this process, especially with seedling genetics and financial projections;
Congratulations to Larry Foster
I would like to congratulate Larry Foster on his recent retirement and thank him for his hard work and dedication to the success of the nursery and orchard program at ArborGen. Larry has been an invaluable member of our team and leaves with a distinguished career of more than 42 years of experience in the forestry industry, with 37 of that in nursery operations and tree improvement. Larry has lead the Selma Nursery and Orchard team for 26 years, growing pine seedlings until 2017 and then managing the planting and lifting of hardwoods and orchard production of MCP® and OP pine seed since then.
The ArborGen team sends best wishes to Larry and his wife Traci in this next chapter of their life.
President & CEO
Order Now – Seedlings Selling Out Fast!
Demand is high and our seedling inventory is getting low.
Currently, for MCP® we have some Coastal and Piedmont Loblolly available in Bareroot and Container.
For Loblolly pine Open Pollinated seedlings, we have:
- ArkLaTex: small quantities of Advanced, Select, and Elite
- Coastal: moderate availability of Advanced, Select, and Elite Bare Root & Container
- Piedmont: moderate availability of Advanced, Select, and Elite Bare Root & Container
For Slash pine Open Pollinated seedlings we have small quantities of Advanced and Select Bareroot.
Contact your Reforestation Advisor ASAP to reserve your seedlings before we sell out.
Paul Jeffreys, Ph.D.
Western Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi
Geoffrey Lee Hill
Georgia, Virginia, Eastern Tennessee, Northern North Carolina
Eastern Texas, Southern Louisiana
Senior Business Specialist, Texas
Southern North Carolina, South Carolina
Florida Gulf Coast, South Alabama, Southwest Georgia
Arkansas, Northern Louisiana, and Oklahoma
Manager, Reforestation Advisors