October 2020 – 2nd Edition

Once a landowner has site preparation complete, the big question is which planting method they should choose.

Both hand and machine planting are acceptable. However, site conditions may only allow one or the other. The tract size, availability of contractors, amount of debris, contour, slope, and soil conditions are a few factors to consider as to which method will work best. The cost of each method should also be considered.

A heavy-duty, wildland machine planter can be used on cutover sites or fields. Limitations to machine planting would be land that is too steep, rocky, or wet. The planter is typically pulled with a bulldozer or large tractor. Bulldozers are equipped with a v-blade on the front to move debris, and clear a path if the site is rough. As the planter is pulled over an area, a coulter wheel cuts through the soil at a depth of approximately 12”. A planting foot is directly behind the coulter wheel and it creates a larger furrow for the seedling. If the land has been bedded, then a farm tractor with a conventional planter may be used. If it is too wet to support heavy machinery, it may be best to hand plant. Typically, the wildland planting operation is more costly than the conventional planter. Some of the benefits of machine planting include :

  • Survival rates improve with machine planting
  • Seedling handling is reduced and they are not exposed to wind or sun
  • Machine planting fractures the ground. Cultivation from the coulter acts like subsoiling which promotes root growth-enhancing growth
  • Seedlings are planted 2-3” deeper than they were from the nursery which increases survival
  • Machine packing wheels ensure soil is packed tightly around roots promoting water and nutrient uptake
  • J or L rooting is greatly reduced with machine planting
  • Planting sites have more consistent spacing machines can generally plant upwards of 20 acres a day


Hand planting is conducted on sites that are not suitable for machines. Hand planting is practical on tracts that are rough with rocks, logging debris, or tall stumps. Hand planting may also be appropriate if the tract is too wet for machines. An individual hand planter can plant approximately 3-4 acres or 2,000 trees per day depending on site and weather conditions. Some container stock seedlings must be hand planted. Seedlings are generally sorted by the hand planter, before being placed in the “hip” seedling tote. Dibble bars, hoe-dads, or planting shovels are the tools of choice depending on the site. Some of the benefits of hand planting are:

  • Lower cost than machine planting
  • Facilitates planting steep hillsides and slopes
  • Access to the entire tract
  • Well suited for variable tract conditions such as hills and drains

Some seedling handling and planting challenges associated with hand planting are:

  • Seedlings are exposed to the elements for a longer duration
  • Human handling of seedlings can cause additional stress on young trees
  • Planters may hand-carry too many seedlings which may cause desiccation
  • J or L rooting may increase when planters are in a hurry or if the ground is hard
  • Seedlings may be planted too shallow
  • Hand planters sometimes trim or strip roots. A practice that is not acceptable
  • Careful supervision is a must with hand planting crews

Machine planting can cost between $85 and $125. Hand planting ranges from $50 to $80. Both methods have their place in southern reforestation. Contact your Reforestation Advisor a year ahead of when you decide to plant and they can make a recommendation on what may be the best option for your land. Green side up!

Picking Up Your Seedlings

Staying Safe this Planting Season

The lifting season is upon us for our seedling crop. There are hurdles every year, and 2020 seems to be an overachiever in this regard. To keep everyone safe, deliver you the seedlings you have ordered and provide the customer service you expect, we ask for your cooperation in working with our nurseries to make this a safe and productive season.

It is more critical than ever this year to call ahead to arrange pick-up of your seedlings. This will allow our nursery personnel to provide you expedited service in a safe environment.

Some of the changes you may see at the nurseries this season are:

  • Limited number of people and transactions inside the office.
  • Designated areas and bathrooms for visitors and customers.
  • Wear a mask or practice social distancing.
  • Look for signage and messaging from your nursery to help make your visit as safe as possible.
  • Utilize hand sanitizer when entering the office.

If you are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, we ask that you do not enter the nursery.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to the nursery you plan to visit.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Chauncy Jordan,
Director, U.S. Nursery Operations

New Reforestation Advisor: Greg Hay


ArborGen is pleased to announce the hiring of Greg Hay as the Reforestation Advisor for Arkansas, northern Louisiana and Oklahoma.

Greg will work with landowners, forestry managers, consultants, and tree planting contractors to provide, from planning to planting, the most advanced seedling genetic products available in the industry.

Greg has more than 40 years of experience in forestry, most recently as a Territory Manager for Nutrien Solutions. Before that he worked for CellFor Corporation as a Western Regional Manager providing high technology seedlings to the industry. Greg earned his bachelor’s in Forest Management at Stephen F. Austin State University and has a certification in silviculture.
He was appointed to the Arkansas State Plant Board in 2015 representing Forestry and was elected Chairman of this regulatory Board in 2019. He serves on the board of directors for the Forest Landowners Association and the Arkansas Forestry Association.

Greg presently serves as Secretary of the Arkansas Forestry Association and Vice-Chair of the Arkansas Chapter of the Association of Consulting Foresters. As an active member of the Society of American Foresters, Greg has served in many capacities and was elected Fellow in 2000.

Greg Hay, A.C.F., C.F., R.F.
Phone: 501-350-4217


Your Seedlings Are Almost Ready for Lifting!

Loblolly MCP® Select

Available at your Bellville, GA Nursery

Loblolly Pine Seedlings

Available at your Bluff City, AR Nursery

Loblolly BR OP Elite Coastal

Available at your Taylor Nursery

Bald Cypress Seedlings

Available at your Selma, AL Nursery

Nuttall Oak Seedlings

Available at your Selma, AL Nursery

Overcup Oak Seedlings

Available at your Selma, AL Nursery

Upcoming Survey

In the near future, we’ll be sending out a brief survey to better understand the needs of landowners, forestry consultants, and tree planters.

Stay tuned!

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


Geoffrey Lee Hill

Geoffrey Lee Hill

Georgia, Virginia, Eastern Tennessee, Northern North Carolina


Shannon Stewart

Shannon Stewart

Eastern Texas, Southern Louisiana


Lux Davis

Lux Davis

Senior Business Specialist, Texas


Kylie Burdette

Kylie Burdette

Southern North Carolina, South Carolina


Jason Cromer

Jason Cromer

Florida Gulf Coast, South Alabama, Southwest Georgia


Greg Hay

Greg Hay

Arkansas, Northern Louisiana, and Oklahoma


Jason Watson

Jason Watson

Director, Reforestation Advisors