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Author Topic: How to plant seedlings in this location?  (Read 883 times)

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Offline bigtrees

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How to plant seedlings in this location?
« on: June 02, 2018, 07:25:26 PM »
 One of the first projects I'm taking on in our new tree farm is to plant seedlings! There is about 1 acre of open area that was clearcutted many years ago, and I'd like to plant trees and eventually restore this to forestland. (Yes, it'll take a long, long time).

The open land appears to have a layer of sod. A forester who did a site visit suggested spraying with roundup to kill the sod. I think he mentioned I might have to use some tools to breakup the sod, even after the roundup kills the grasses. He said without proper site preparation, the seedlings would die due to lack of water.

I was wondering if anyone here can offer any suggestions? I live about 9 hours away, and have to create my plans from a distance.

Also, how fast will I be able to plant? I am thinking of planting maybe 200 or 300. If I have to do much dirt work, I am thinking that my rate will be slow, like maybe 4 an hour, and it'll take me a number of long days to get 200 - 300 seedlings planted.

Also there is serious deer browse issues in this area. I am planning on installing the mesh tubes with bamboo supports to help prevent deer browse. Haven't decided for sure but might spray the seedlings with PLANTSKYDD for good measure.


Online Skeans1

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Re: How to plant seedlings in this location?
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2018, 08:16:46 PM »
You could break that ground or you could leave just keep up on the sprays to control the weeds as well as the grass. 200 to 300 an acre? That to seems like a low number depending on what species you’re planting.

Offline Riwaka

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Re: How to plant seedlings in this location?
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2018, 09:46:56 PM »
Vermin proof tall fence to exclude as many browsing, chewing critters as possible. Might need an exit gate or two to let stuff out to avoid trapping.

Automatic (remotely powered) watering system to ensure high seedling survival rates during an extended dry season.

Take down the fence when the seedlings are strong enough and re-use materials in next square. etc


Offline esteadle

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Re: How to plant seedlings in this location?
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2018, 10:08:47 PM »
Here's what I would do... 

Go to your neighborhood park this October and take a backpack and 2 shopping bags. Walk the dog around and while you enjoy the place, find the nicest looking black walnut trees. The ones that look healthy are those with a grand crown, stout trunk, disease free, and sprawling. Gather the biggest nuts underneath and fill your shopping bags. Black walnuts that are big and green are easiest to handle. after a few weeks they turn brown and leak oil that stains everything, so do this quickly. Then, set those in the center of your property, preferably on the top of a hill, and wait for the squirrels to find them. That's all you need to do. They will do the rest. 

I have a black walnut tree in my back yard and every spring I pull out a hundred black walnut sprouts from every nook and cranny in my yard. Yes, theyll eat most of them. They will not eat them all, and pretty soon, you will have a forest of black walnut trees with almost no effort. 
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Offline Southside logger

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Re: How to plant seedlings in this location?
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2018, 11:02:59 PM »
Personally I am not a fan of the burn and turn method of planting, you kill that grass and you also increase the soil temperature as nothing is shielding the soil from the sun causing it to dry out more and you reduce the capacity for the soil to retain what water does land there, you also increase runoff as nothing breaks up the rain drops as they strike the ground.  Grass does an amazing job of reducing the impact of a raindrop compared to what happens with bare soil.   Roundup will only kill what is alive, not any seeds so in effect you create and opportunity for the next generation of grass and weed seeds by removing the competition, and it cost you money to do all that for them.

Was that a landing in the past?  If so you probably have significant soil compaction which also prevents water and oxygen from infiltrating the soil.  Strip tilling where your seedlings will go would allow you to plant into soil which will permit root growth and water infiltration while reducing the completion of the new seedling.      

Anybody around have a bog harrow or offset disc you could hire to do the work?  If you are planting on 8' centers then you are looking at a couple of hours at most for a dozer or skidder to pull an offset through all that.  Then you can run behind them and plant at a pretty decent clip.  You definitely want to time your planting to take advantage of soil moisture and growth season, before things get too hot and too dry, it may be a bit late this year.  That being said, having the tillage done in the fall will allow all the winter moisture to permeate into the soil and give you a better start next year.  That is more of a locally answered question for sure.  

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Offline bigtrees

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Re: How to plant seedlings in this location?
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2018, 11:13:08 PM »
Here's what I would do...

Go to your neighborhood park this October and take a backpack and 2 shopping bags. Walk the dog around and while you enjoy the place, find the nicest looking black walnut trees. The ones that look healthy are those with a grand crown, stout trunk, disease free, and sprawling. Gather the biggest nuts underneath and fill your shopping bags. Black walnuts that are big and green are easiest to handle. after a few weeks they turn brown and leak oil that stains everything, so do this quickly. Then, set those in the center of your property, preferably on the top of a hill, and wait for the squirrels to find them. That's all you need to do. They will do the rest.

I have a black walnut tree in my back yard and every spring I pull out a hundred black walnut sprouts from every nook and cranny in my yard. Yes, theyll eat most of them. They will not eat them all, and pretty soon, you will have a forest of black walnut trees with almost no effort.
Unfortunately, this property is in Montana where few hardwood trees grow. I have seen some birch and aspen, but they don't last long. Most trees are fir, larch, and ponderosa pine.

Offline mike_belben

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Re: How to plant seedlings in this location?
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2018, 11:55:30 PM »
I have my hands in dirt every day and am a very observant person, especially of forest stuff.  I am with southside logger, my observations support everything he has said.  

The fastest way to a dustbowl is to treat land like a corn field and deep till it.  the aerobic top living life goes underground where the anaerobic life will eat it.  The rains dont penetrate anymore, they run off and take the powdery brown dirt with it.  Fertilizer too.


Photosynthesis requires water from the soil.  Growth rates share direct correlation with sun and moisture, one of which you can influence.  The hotter the soil, the less water in it.  You want max sunlight on the plant and minimum sunlight on the dirt.  This is what cover crops and sheet mulching do.    

In my own yard i have areas of overcrowded hardwood forest, recently thinned hardwood forest, early successional forest (when pasture transitions from grasses to trees) and bulldozed dirt that is trying to grow a few lonely seedlings in full sunlight.

Hands down the fastest grower is early successional forest.  The sapplings are clumped so close together, 6ft tall or less and in extreme competition with other trees, tall grasses, reeds, briars, etc etc.. That the sun simply cannot break through the shade and reduce the ground moisture no matter how many hours of blistering direct light hits there.  

The slowest grower is the dozed up dirt seedlings that pop here and there.  No competition and direct sun, but the ground gets dry enough to crack.  There isnt any water left in it.  


Go in there with a disc and hand seed it with a fall cover crop mix of legumes and beans to feed the deer and improve soil nitrogen.   Let that get tall and then just stomp it down where you need to plant..  pop in your seedlings with a dibble, theyll come up and grow straight up to get light AND be camoflaged from the deer.  They wont even notice your trees through beans, corn or berries.  Let a few guys hunt over it to bring the herd down.   theyll covet that spot and protect it from human riff raff while youre away.  


If you dont want to plant a green mix, atleast put down few inches of tree chip mulch around your seedlings.  Itll keep the dirt wet even with direct sun.  This does not address the deer herd, it is too large for the land capacity.  You need to feed them or kill some.  Those are the options.  Feeding them legumes will improve them and your dirt, which is what id do.  Id also feed me, some of them.
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Online Skeans1

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Re: How to plant seedlings in this location?
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2018, 12:26:41 AM »
 

 

 This is some of our ground before planting then some ground that was planted 4 years ago that needs sprayed.

Offline mike_belben

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Re: How to plant seedlings in this location?
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2018, 06:34:53 AM »
Do deer eat softwoods out there?  I really dont have many to watch.  They rub up my ERC sapplings during the rut but i dont know much else.


What do you guys do with the piles?
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Online Skeans1

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Re: How to plant seedlings in this location?
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2018, 06:51:01 AM »
Piles normally we’ll burn, wind rows we’ll leave to rot. Deer and elk are a pain they’ll yank the seedlings out of the ground or eat the new bud growth off in the spring and they do the rubs.

Offline maple flats

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Re: How to plant seedlings in this location?
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2018, 08:33:16 AM »
I'm also of the opinion the grass should be kept in place. Do you have any idea how many years since the clear cut? Even if you just guess from looking close at the stumps. The reason I ask is because I see no new growth coming up. If the clear cut was more than 2 years ago there should be some sprouts and loads of brambles filling the voids.
Here in the east things are far different, but one method to protect new seedlings is to put slash around the new seedlings (or plant thru existing slash). Is that area in danger of forest fire? If yes, slash may not be OK.
Look into a tree planter. I borrowed one 30+ years ago to plant thousands of white spruce with a boy scout troop I was scoutmaster of. It mounted on my 20 HP compact tractor 3 point hitch. As I drove with the planter down, it cut the sod, opened a trench, a scout sitting on the seat set a seedling in the trench and 2 tires pushed the trench closed. Moisture at that location was not an issue, but we had over 95% success.
I also have a Holland Transplanter Model 1000, but it requires tilled soil. That has 2 seats and a turning chain that moves plants from where a tray sets in front of each person, a seedling is placed in a rubber finger and it goes down to a trench that has been opened. The seedling is set, water is shot into the trench and behind that 2 steel packer wheels close the trench. It can set 14" apart with the right gears on it, or can plant much farther by using different gears or skipping one or more of the rubber plant holder fingers as the go by, or to make it easier some or all but one can be removed. I used it to plant acres of blueberries and strawberries back in the 80's. If you were to find something like that I'd suggest just tilling a 1' wide strip and planting, then if allowed place some slash around each seedling to minimize deer and elk damage.
This all being said, my concern is the lack of new regen if the clear cut was more than 2-3 years ago. That my call for a local expert, not just a typical Forester, but an expert on getting new planting started in that local.
Your idea of placing tree protectors around the seedlings will generally work for deer but I would think Elk might just pull them off to get to what they wanted inside.
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Offline nativewolf

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Re: How to plant seedlings in this location?
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2018, 09:10:33 AM »
I'm also of the opinion the grass should be kept in place. Do you have any idea how many years since the clear cut? Even if you just guess from looking close at the stumps. The reason I ask is because I see no new growth coming up. If the clear cut was more than 2 years ago there should be some sprouts and loads of brambles filling the voids.
Here in the east things are far different, but one method to protect new seedlings is to put slash around the new seedlings (or plant thru existing slash). Is that area in danger of forest fire? If yes, slash may not be OK.
Look into a tree planter. I borrowed one 30+ years ago to plant thousands of white spruce with a boy scout troop I was scoutmaster of. It mounted on my 20 HP compact tractor 3 point hitch. As I drove with the planter down, it cut the sod, opened a trench, a scout sitting on the seat set a seedling in the trench and 2 tires pushed the trench closed. Moisture at that location was not an issue, but we had over 95% success.
I also have a Holland Transplanter Model 1000, but it requires tilled soil. That has 2 seats and a turning chain that moves plants from where a tray sets in front of each person, a seedling is placed in a rubber finger and it goes down to a trench that has been opened. The seedling is set, water is shot into the trench and behind that 2 steel packer wheels close the trench. It can set 14" apart with the right gears on it, or can plant much farther by using different gears or skipping one or more of the rubber plant holder fingers as the go by, or to make it easier some or all but one can be removed. I used it to plant acres of blueberries and strawberries back in the 80's. If you were to find something like that I'd suggest just tilling a 1' wide strip and planting, then if allowed place some slash around each seedling to minimize deer and elk damage.
This all being said, my concern is the lack of new regen if the clear cut was more than 2-3 years ago. That my call for a local expert, not just a typical Forester, but an expert on getting new planting started in that local.
Your idea of placing tree protectors around the seedlings will generally work for deer but I would think Elk might just pull them off to get to what they wanted inside.
Do you still do blueberries?  I've been converting a 10 acre site (yellow poplar/cherry) and will be putting in blueberries for a upick operation.  Not to hijack but we'll be using a similar sort of planter and I'm mulching/tilling all the stumps, taking a while.  
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Offline nativewolf

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Re: How to plant seedlings in this location?
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2018, 09:40:38 AM »
One of the first projects I'm taking on in our new tree farm is to plant seedlings! There is about 1 acre of open area that was clearcutted many years ago, and I'd like to plant trees and eventually restore this to forestland. (Yes, it'll take a long, long time).

The open land appears to have a layer of sod. A forester who did a site visit suggested spraying with roundup to kill the sod. I think he mentioned I might have to use some tools to breakup the sod, even after the roundup kills the grasses. He said without proper site preparation, the seedlings would die due to lack of water.

I was wondering if anyone here can offer any suggestions? I live about 9 hours away, and have to create my plans from a distance.

Also, how fast will I be able to plant? I am thinking of planting maybe 200 or 300. If I have to do much dirt work, I am thinking that my rate will be slow, like maybe 4 an hour, and it'll take me a number of long days to get 200 - 300 seedlings planted.

Also there is serious deer browse issues in this area. I am planning on installing the mesh tubes with bamboo supports to help prevent deer browse. Haven't decided for sure but might spray the seedlings with PLANTSKYDD for good measure.

(Image hidden from quote, click to view.)
Q:  Where is it?
As a forester this would be my observations.  
  • That may or may not be the former landing site.  
  • Tree planing by hand with a dibble bar is simple and you'd have a days work at most.  
  • If the former landing site it's compacted, nothing is going to want to live there.  The surrounding trees have had X years to seed that in and they haven't?  If they haven't than planted seedling probably won't have great success.  Conifers are, by design, site disturbance colonizers, they are going to seed in everything.  The seed stock will be from the surrounding trees and they are native to the site.  If you don't see tree seedlings it could be due to browse, rodents (mice/volves/rabbits), or fire or the site has other issues.
  • How many seedlings are coming up in the understory under the conifers in the distance?
My question to you from a management point of view would be...why plant trees?  I have a consulting company and my goal is to create income and increase asset value for my clients while getting SFI certifications.  After 5 years I expect a site to be worth more than when I entered my agreement, not always possible but that's my goal.  If we do a clear cut in a nice oak stand that's a real tough to reach goal but ...at least I can hope for 10 years but here the asset value's are very high indeed.  With those 3 goals in mind...consider this:
  • Sod may mean moss/peat/grass.  All can be very competitive and if that is a natural complex with few trees that tells you grass/forb species are more competitive.  If that's a former landing site and heavily compacted any regeneration is going to be a real challenge and never will it be economically viable.  So....why plant trees there?  Go with what you got and encourage flowering native plants that help diversify the mix, mechanically disturb it and put in a few hundred pounds of native seed mix.  Over the very long term they'll loosen the compacted soil and natural regeneration will take place, or the site is hosed and you are wasting your time planting but it can be a nice meadow.  
  • Don't underestimate a nice meadow for increasing site value, ecologically they are appropriate.  Financially it can do more to increase the property value than a young conifer stand and your area appears to be either far north or high mountains.  Conifers are going to grow slowwwwwwly.  
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Offline nativewolf

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Re: How to plant seedlings in this location?
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2018, 10:08:11 AM »
1075B scarifier in Sweden | Tigercat

This is an example of scarifying northern conifer sites with lots of peat/moss/sod competition.  They'll either plant into that or count on natural regeneration seeding into it.  Very expensive site prep and for just an acre or so I can't see the $ or the need.
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Offline OntarioAl

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Re: How to plant seedlings in this location?
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2018, 10:22:39 AM »
Okay I would not plant anything without a soil test as  to why only grass (and a poor crop at that) is growing in a cleared area adjacent  to mature seed bearing softwoods.
If  the property was mine I would concentrate my efforts on removing laddered fuels and improving its ability to survive wildfire .
If you elect to plant I would go with either Douglas Fir or Ponderosa Pine (or a mixture of both) and like others have stated protection from deer,  elk, rabbits ,  mice and fire.
Nice property , I have fought fire several times in Montana truly a beautiful place "Big Sky Country"
Cheers
Al
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: How to plant seedlings in this location?
« Reply #15 on: June 03, 2018, 04:32:31 PM »
Do your site classification and know the silvics of the species your planning on establishing. Check with your USDA extension folks in the area on those things. Maybe this site needs a tree that can take drought or poorer nutrient availability than others, if that is an issue. Plant what grows there, and don't introduce a tree not found around there. I see hardly any undergrowth even in those big woods, not barely a shrub. Must be on the dry side. The grass looks low density, but that might be in a compacted trail to. Do you get deep winter frost? That does wonders loosening up the soil. That frozen ice has to grow some place, usually up, down and out like a snow flake. ;)

Deer love pine 'candles', new shoots. Never seen them touch spruce, but snow shoe hare around here will nibble them like crazy. Moose will trim fir good around here. :D

Pre-commercial thinning pays off. :)

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Offline BaldBob

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Re: How to plant seedlings in this location?
« Reply #16 on: June 08, 2018, 06:28:42 PM »
As others have said there must be some reason, such as soil compaction from an old landing , that this site has not reseeded naturally by now. That being the case, you are unlikely to have much success reforesting the site until whatever caused the problem is corrected.  If compaction is indeed the problem, I recommend hiring a cat with a ripper to work over the site.
Grass can certainly greatly impede tree growth in that part of the world (I'm assuming western Montana) even at the low density shown in your photo. But that alone wouldn't account for the total lack of seedlings on this site. Given that the vast majority of the moisture in that area comes in the form of winter snow, removal of the grass cover will have little impact on water run off.  If you have concerns about totally removing the grass, spray spots of about 3' diameter at each chosen planting site rather than broadcast spraying the entire area.
If you are able to correct whatever is making the site inhospitable to trees, and still want to plant it rather than wait for natural regeneration ( which will occur as soon as whatever the obstruction is is corrected) :
1. Spot spray your planting spots (~ 500-600/ac. adjacent to and on the North, Northeast, or East side of shade e.g. stumps or logs) the summer before planting. It helps to put a flag in each spot sprayed for spot ID when planting.
2. Plant in the early spring as soon after snowmelt as possible.
3. Plant PP, DF, or WL or a mixture of all three.
If you are reasonably fit, you should be able to plant 200-300 bare root or plug seedlings/day (professional tree planters commonly plant 1000-1500/day on flat ground). Do not take more trees out of cold storage each day than you intend to plant. Do not let the roots dry out on the trees you have out to plant.
I have experience supervising the reforestation of millions of seedlings in the habitat type shown in your photo, and have found that protective tubing is rarely that effective in protecting the seedlings and almost never worth the expense. In fact if elk are present, the tubing can make the damage worse, as unless you put all the tubing back up each spring and fall that they knocked over, most of your trees will be deformed.


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