How To Buy Loblolly Pine Seeds For Forests

Top 5 Questions to Ask Before Buying Seedlings

Knowing pine seedling buying options, where to get information, and what’s suitable for your land is key to successful results. We’ve outlined 5 Questions that can help you meet your goals and grow a beautiful, profitable forest.

Tree Planting Tips Pine Timber1. What are my various genetic seedling choices and what are the key differences among them?

No longer are seedlings a commodity purchase, so it’s essential to know your options. Research and development brought more tailored choices for landowners and an improved return on investment on reforestation efforts.

As loblolly pine is the most important tree for commercial reforestation in the U.S. South, there are three options for this essential species: conventional Open-Pollinated (OP) to Mass Control Pollinated (MCP®). The meticulous and complex process of mass-controlled pollination gives MCP seedlings even more robust and predictable traits that ensure higher growth rates and better log quality, yielding more sawtimber trees per acre.

Click here to learn even more about seed choices.


2. What is the experience and background of the person giving you information and advice on your forest investment for your land?

A Florida Loblolly Reforestation Project Years In The MakingYou only have one chance to get your tree seedling investment right. The wrong choice can be a 25-year mistake. The person you work with must have the experience and education in forestry to understand all of the factors you need to consider when planting. With that comes the need and the ability to provide the precise data necessary to prove that what they say is true. Ask your reforestation advisor about their background and what other landowners have accomplished with their advice. Ask for references from other landowners.

Read about MCP growth expectations here

This photo shows Florida Loblolly Pines seedlings planted in Virginia, which is not a good idea. It’s imperative to plant seedlings specific to your provenance.

Exposed Pine Tree Seedlings3. Should I plant bareroot or containerized seedlings?

The answer is Yes, and it depends.

Bareroot refers to a tree available for sale with its roots exposed. For most reforestation situations, bareroot seedlings will provide survival rates of around 88%-90%. Planting with container seedlings can improve survival on droughty sites and may be planted early in the planting season (October/November) or late season planting (April/May), thus extending the planting season. However, under typical conditions during the standard planting window (December to March), bareroot seedlings will survive and grow equally well versus container seedlings.

Planting containerized seedlings is not a substitute for good quality site preparation or genetic improvement. Landowners should not use containerized seedlings to skimp on on-site preparation, thinking that containerized seedlings will compensate for poor or no site prep. For example, failing to bed on a wet site and planting containerized seedlings will likely not give as good of results as bedding and planting bareroot seedlings in terms of growth and survival because the limiting factor (excessive soil moisture and poor aeration of the roots) has not been addressed. Similarly, whether choosing bare root or container seedlings, the type of genetic improvement in the seed is more important in the long run.

4. What is the appropriately adapted seed source for my planting location

Pine Forestation Map Showing The Southeastern United StatesNot knowing the seed source of your seedlings can be devastating. Seedlings produced from seed with Florida parentage won’t survive or reach their full potential on a site in Virginia. Experienced seedling providers like ArborGen can provide landowners with the correct geographic seed source and genetic performance data.

Planting Guide Loblolly Pine TreesLoblolly Pine: Coastal, Piedmont, Northern, Texas Louisiana Arkansas Oklahoma

Additionally, Performance Rating System scores (PRS) from the North Carolina State University Tree Improvement Cooperative are available for trees that have been tested in its field trials. When deciding between different genetic choices, the checklots in NCSU PRS data must be from the exact geographic location or provenance. Learn about pine seedling success and suggested seedling types and genetic makeup for planting in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and other states. For example, if you want to compare two families for use in South Carolina, the appropriate checklot in the PRS scoring will be the South Carolina checklot. Your forestry seedling vendor or consultant should be able to readily provide you with the information to provide the correct comparisons. Demand data transparency in making your seedling selection.


Forestry Tree Guides Texas Florida5. What kind of customer support should I expect regarding my seedlings before, during and after the sale?

Make sure the reforestation company you work with asks you about your goals for you and your family and helps you develop a plan to achieve those. They should communicate with you in a clear, transparent way the facts and data that support their claims.

Ask about their quality control and tracking systems to ensure they deliver you the high-quality seedlings you expect.

They should be able to deliver what you want, where you want it when you want it. And your reforestation company should commit to being there for advice and support after planting until the first thinning. You are in this for the long haul – they should be too.

Meet Michael Cunningham, Ph.D
Vice President, Global Product Development


Get to know Mike Cunningham and learn more about why genetics matter and learn some good questions to ask before you buy seedlings for your land.

Dr. Patrick Cumbie, manager of pine improvement for ArborGen won the Tony Squillace Award for the best presentation at the Southern Forest Tree Improvement Conference last week in Louisville, KY. The Southern Forest Tree Improvement Committee (SFTIC) is the professional organization of tree improvement specialists throughout the southeastern United States. The Southern Forest Tree Improvement Conference organized by SFTIC has met biannually for 56 years to exchange information and to discuss future needs.

The title of his presentation was Implementation of Genomic Prediction in Loblolly Pine.

He discussed applications of genomic selection that ArborGen has introduced into our pine genetics program.

Patrick Cumbie Arborgen Tree Seedlings Treelines June 2019 1St Edition
Need a trusted partner to guide the way?
Get in touch with a Reforestation Advisor to explore your options!
Paul Jeffreys, Ph.d.

Paul Jeffreys, Ph.D.

Western Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi


Austin Heine

Austin Heine

North Carolina and Virginia



Shannon Stewart

Shannon Stewart

Eastern Texas, Southern Louisiana


Kylie Burdette

Kylie Burdette

South Carolina


Jason Cromer

Jason Cromer

Florida Gulf Coast, South Alabama, Georgia


Greg Hay

Greg Hay

Arkansas, Northern Louisiana, and Oklahoma


Jason Watson

Jason Watson

Director, U.S. Sales