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?
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;
Check-in With Geoffery Hill
In today’s video, Geoffrey Hill talks about his history as a forest landowner and how it blends with being an ArborGen Reforestation Advisor to benefit other landowners looking to reforest.
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