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Author Topic: Kicking off the Bigtrees Tree Farm seedling planting project  (Read 1793 times)

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Offline bigtrees

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Kicking off the Bigtrees Tree Farm seedling planting project
« on: April 16, 2019, 01:49:52 PM »
As many know, my wife and I acquired a 20 acre plot of land that we call our tree farm. It's adjacent to a 40 acre plot of land that my father and I acquired two years ago, so together it makes up our 60 acre tree farm.

While no work was needed on the North 40 portion, the Southwest 20 acre portion arrived in a degraded state. It had a useless former road area, and another swath that was cleared as well. While the cleared swaths provide view corridors, I don't care for the look of them and wanted to return them back to the natural state.

The useless road area was a lot of work to restore. There were three areas that deep cuts - up to 5' deep in locations - were made into the soil to even out the grade. To restore this area, I hired a dirtwork contractor to haul in a total of 450 yards of soil. Since the end goal was to plant trees, we brought 1/2 pit run soil and 1/2 high quality topsoil. We also hired a contractor who used a low ground pressure dozer to prevent soil compaction when spreading out the soil. Finally, the contractor spread out grass seeds and 1000 pounds of hay to prevent soil erosion. Total cost of the dirt work ran just above $13,000. This was all completed last fall.

The next step in restoring the roadbed back to a natural condition is to reforest the area. We have a conservation district in the county where the property is located that provides cost share funding. I applied for a cost-share grant, and was approved at 75% cost share last fall of total project costs. The scope of the project is to purchase and plant 250 trees, along with seedling protectors to prevent deer browse. Total cost will be around $2,000, but after cost share, will only cost me $500.

My father and I have spent a lot of time to plan out the project over the winter. I acquired the seedling protectors, bamboo stakes, and flags for locating the trees last fall. I also placed the trees on order from the nursery who we selected (20 cubic inch SuperStock plugs from Pitkin Nursery at the University of Idaho.)

I'm doing the final preparation for the seedling installation project now. We'll be installing them at the end of April in about two weeks. Since we received conservation district funding, the actual tree planting is being contracted out to an experienced tree planter who lives in the vicinity. The idea is that it will take between 3 and 4 days to install the trees. My father and I will go flag out where the trees go, the tree planter will then plant them and install the tree protectors. Afterwards, I will go back and spray Roundup in a 3' circle around the tree, being careful to mask the tree from the Roundup application.

While the tree planter is working, I have a variety of other tasks to do on the tree farm. There are three huge burn piles that need to be burned, but it'll be too dry this fall to burn them due to their sheer size. The plan is to cover them with lumber wrap that I have acquired and let them dry this summer, and then the lumber wrap will protect them from additional moisture and we'll burn them next spring. There is also some consolidation of the piles that is necessary for a good clean burn.

Finally, as mentioned in a separate thread, some time will be spend evaluating the weed situation on the property and deciding what to do about weeds.

Anyways, just wanted to post this here...



 

Offline krusty

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Re: Kicking off the Bigtrees Tree Farm seedling planting project
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2019, 10:12:07 PM »
no disrespect but.....

trying to get through university I planted trees in the summer and figure I planted about 250,000 over 5 summers. was paid under $0.10 a pop to get them in the ground. no fancy round up and once in shape for the summer could hammer in about 300 per hour in 35C temps.

I watch my local conservation folks do it now and it is far to complicated with sprays, revisits, etc.

Get a hungry enough student out there and it could be done in a couple hours with a high survival rate.

while I am no tree hugger and love a day logging myself, clearcuts on large scale are just butt ugly :D

Offline bigtrees

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Re: Kicking off the Bigtrees Tree Farm seedling planting project
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2019, 10:41:31 PM »
no disrespect but.....

trying to get through university I planted trees in the summer and figure I planted about 250,000 over 5 summers. was paid under $0.10 a pop to get them in the ground. no fancy round up and once in shape for the summer could hammer in about 300 per hour in 35C temps.

I watch my local conservation folks do it now and it is far to complicated with sprays, revisits, etc.

Get a hungry enough student out there and it could be done in a couple hours with a high survival rate.

while I am no tree hugger and love a day logging myself, clearcuts on large scale are just butt ugly :D
Thanks for your comments, Krusty.

Yes, I'm aware that much faster (and cheaper) plantings are available. For researching the project, I spent a lot of time watching youtube videos of college students in Canada planting trees. We have a local community college there that has a forestry club and I thought about hiring them to do the planting, but the key thing I found with college students is they need good supervision to ensure the trees are planted right. I never found a person who would be a good supervisor (and I am not knowledgable enough to supervise).

I did go back and forth a lot about how fancy to make the tree planting. On one side is a low cost planting like you did in college, and then I contacted a local company specializing in reforestation who proposed using a mini excavator to prepare a planting site for each plant. In the end, I went partway in the middle.
The roundup is primarily being used where there is a heavy sod layer that I am trying to convert back into forest. The heavy sod would soak up way too much moisture, so the grass needs to be killed off so the trees will have enough to survive.

After completing the first two plantings of 250 each, I would like to plant about 6000 more in the forest to provide a second growth if I ever harvest the existing timber. If I go forward with the additional 6000 trees, these would be planted in a low cost manner like you are experienced with. One challenge that I have is there are few folks experienced in tree planting in Northwest Montana. Most are in Washington, Oregon, or Canada, but not many in Montana.

Offline pine

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Re: Kicking off the Bigtrees Tree Farm seedling planting project
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2019, 03:51:08 AM »
Sounds like an interesting project.  You will have a nice stand when you are finished.

However with all due respect:
I have to confess it seems to me as if you are being ripped off in a big way.  $2000 for 250 seedlings is $8 per unit.
You state that you are using 20 cubic inch SuperStock plugs from Pitkin Nursery at the University of Idaho.  Pitkin lists those prices at $2.50 each but $1.95 each if more than 200.  That leaves $6.05 for labor and tubes and stakes.   Tubes are well below a buck a piece with stake and even cheaper depending upon what tube you are using.  (VEXAR, solid, solid with perforations and how tall)

I don't know what species you are planting but suspect that it is PP.  I also have no idea how harsh your site is and thus don't know if you really have to have a 20 cu in plug or not for mortality.  A good Plug+1 or a 1+1 is around 45-50 cents a piece depending upon species and a 2+0 a little less.  Yes PP normally come in super plugs and not the other varieties but a PP in a P+1 is a great seedling.  I purchase super plugs for about $0.60 for PP. 

As to planting costs.  The local county government just put out a contract for an 80K reforestation seedling plant.  The local planters were bidding $2.00 each including labor and seedling, no tubes.  They went with a contractor out of Oregon who bid $1.00 per unit including labor and seedling, no tubes.
I think the days of $0.10 per unit is long gone and might show krusty's age.

Just be careful that you are not put at the end of the season as you have a small amount to do and have a high mortality due to planting too late in the year.  I know in my area if the seedlings are not in the ground by now it is pretty much too late.  You may still have snow on the ground so that can limit you.


Since you got a cost share for 75% that covers the first $6 per unit and you are only paying $2 per unit out of  pocket. I guess you are ok but wow!!!!  I need to come over and do planting in your neck of the woods.  It is much more lucrative.

As far as your using Glyphosate around the seedlings.  That is the problem having seeded the area with grass seed previously.
Again not knowing the dirt they hauled in I hope you do not fight invasive from bad seeds in all that soil. 
Stay on top of the vegetation control and don't be afraid to use chemicals. 
If you are not experienced with them remember one thing. 
READ AND FOLLOW THE LABEL

Way to many inexperienced people think that if the label says 2 oz concentrate per gallon that 3 -4 oz is better.  It is not!!!  Not only is it a violation of both federal and state law to not follow the label and mixing instructions it is counter productive and reduces the effectiveness of what you are trying to do which is control the weeds.

Congratulations on your project and have fun with it.


Offline bigtrees

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Re: Kicking off the Bigtrees Tree Farm seedling planting project
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2019, 08:28:40 AM »
With regards to the labels on herbicides, I have to say that they are a whole lot more complicated reading than I first thought they would be! I am an engineer by trade and I guess we spend more time looking at pictures than reading labels, lol.

Anyways, yes, I have been carefully reading labels and when there are botany terms that I don't understand, I have been doing some research and learning. One of the hardest things I find about the labels is they tell you how much chemical to apply per acre, not how much chemical to put in your sprayer. You have to know how many gallons of spray per acre that you'll use, and then you can figure out how much to put in your sprayer tank.

It's fun. Gives me something to do after work.....

Offline btulloh

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Re: Kicking off the Bigtrees Tree Farm seedling planting project
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2019, 08:35:32 AM »
The label generally has a ratio for spot spraying but it can be hard to find.  It's there though.
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Offline wisconsitom

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Re: Kicking off the Bigtrees Tree Farm seedling planting project
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2019, 08:47:41 AM »
Hi bigtrees.  Best of luck with your project!  I had a similar ambition roughly 11 years ago, and it has payed off quite nicely, at least in terms of reforesting an area.  And like you, I was in "Cadillac mode" in the beginning, handling perhaps 250 trees a year, hand-digging holes, applying wood chip mulch....spraying glyphosate around individual plants....the whole bit.  These trees took hold and just ten years later, were in many cases 35 feet tall.

But then, dissatisfied with the heavy labor involved...and the relatively slow progress in that old alfalfa field, I made the decision to rent the County's tree planting machine (nothing more than a glorified cabbage planter) and we installed 6000 seedling about 5 years ago...in 2 days.  And in truth, these "machine-planted" trees are doing as well if not better than my fussy ones back in the beginning.

Another thing happened following that planting of 6000 seedlings;  A wet summer with an explosion  of lesser ragweed, such that I could literally not see one tree that I had planted.  Mr. DNR Forester-a really good guy-wanted me to go down thru my rows and spray simazine.  I had 2 major problems with that.  First, because my rows had  a sweep to them-we followed land contours with the tractor, and since I could not see the trees, I would have been running over and spraying right on top of my stuff-utterly useless.  Second, I avoid herbicides with the "zine" at the end of their name.  Atrazine, simazine, etc are all known to leach down into the water table.  No thanks.  So I did nothing that year with weeds.

The very next growing season, 100% of that ragweed had gone away and had been replaced by perennial, native forbs for the most part-things like asters, goldenrods, etc.  Then, these fast-growing trees made their way over this "weed layer"  (not really weeds if natives) and they were off and running.  There are white pine from that later planting-again roughly 5 years ago, that are now already 15 feet tall.  The hybrid larch?  Forget about it....they tower over the pine and spruce.  We're already making plans to thin in that larch.

Most generally, my advice would go along the lines of "work with what you've got" in terms of soil......employ horsepower if you are able......go big or go home....and if your growing conditions are anything like those of "the near north" area of NE Wisconsin where I do my work, plan to be amazed at how rapidly a piece of land can be transformed.  My site is a bit of heaven on earth at this point.

tom

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Re: Kicking off the Bigtrees Tree Farm seedling planting project
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2019, 08:49:13 AM »
....oh, and most glyphosate preparations having 41% active ingredient.....one can mix between 2 and 3 liquid ounces of product per gallon of water....to do spot-spraying.  Hope this helps.

tom

Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Kicking off the Bigtrees Tree Farm seedling planting project
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2019, 12:21:12 PM »
No clue on the process but an observation.  If you are planning on spraying right after you plant the trees, why not spray a day or two before planting (to let the glyphosphate be absorbed) so it would go faster and easier without having to shield?
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Offline bigtrees

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Re: Kicking off the Bigtrees Tree Farm seedling planting project
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2019, 12:37:00 PM »
No clue on the process but an observation.  If you are planning on spraying right after you plant the trees, why not spray a day or two before planting (to let the glyphosphate be absorbed) so it would go faster and easier without having to shield?
Good question and observation.

We are planting very early in the season. The snow just melted a week and a half ago, and no grasses/plants/shrubs have really turned green. Roundup only kills live plants (it is not a weed preventer), so I will need to spray after planting to kill the grasses, etc, that pop up after the trees are planted. I am not sure how much 5 days will make but things green up on pretty short order it seems.

I figure I'll have to do a follow up spray in June as well, again, shielding the trees from roundup.

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Re: Kicking off the Bigtrees Tree Farm seedling planting project
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2019, 12:52:29 PM »
bigtrees, if you're seeing my stuff, I would highly recommend only managing those weeds that are actually giving your young trees trouble.  One can spray til the cows come home, but in time, the trees that you are planting are going to do more than anything else to change the nature of the site.  Vast amounts of "weeds" that are now troubling you will find it difficult to impossible to survive once the big pines start taking over, and shading the ground layer.

I'm just trying to save you some work, work that might not necessarily be needed in the long run.  Of course, I'm not standing there, looking at your site.  If I were, I might have different things to say.

tom

Offline bigtrees

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Re: Kicking off the Bigtrees Tree Farm seedling planting project
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2019, 01:40:21 PM »
bigtrees, if you're seeing my stuff, I would highly recommend only managing those weeds that are actually giving your young trees trouble.  One can spray til the cows come home, but in time, the trees that you are planting are going to do more than anything else to change the nature of the site.  Vast amounts of "weeds" that are now troubling you will find it difficult to impossible to survive once the big pines start taking over, and shading the ground layer.

I'm just trying to save you some work, work that might not necessarily be needed in the long run.  Of course, I'm not standing there, looking at your site.  If I were, I might have different things to say.

tom
Thanks Tom.

Agreed that providing natural shade will be the best deterrent to weeds.

Regarding glysophate, that's not for the knapweed and Canada thistle. Rather, it's to kill the competing vegetation around the seedling so all of the moisture in the vicinity can be available for the seedling to drink. Otherwise the grasses will outcompete it for water and it'll die. 

So glysophate spot treatment around each planting site to kill all other vegetation. Weed abatement will be done with Transline (in the forested areas) and Milestone (in the meadow areas). Agreed not much - 7 oz / acre for Milestone and 2/3 pint per acre for Transline.

Offline pine

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Re: Kicking off the Bigtrees Tree Farm seedling planting project
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2019, 03:34:55 PM »
One of the hardest things I find about the labels is they tell you how much chemical to apply per acre, not how much chemical to put in your sprayer. You have to know how many gallons of spray per acre that you'll use, and then you can figure out how much to put in your sprayer tank.
There are several techniques for calibrating your sprayer to determine how many gallons per acre your sprayer is delivering.  Each applicator, you, your wife, etc would have to calibrate it for their style and use.  Some folks recommend calibrating your back back sprayer several times a year.  After several years I find that doing it once a year is enough as I am always in the noise factor if I check it multiple times. 
Each model sprayer is different,  If your sprayer has a dial that can adjust the pressure (many of the Solo ones do) then each pressure setting will have a different GPA of spray result.
 As I said there are several techniques, all very easy and can be done in less than 15 minutes.  If you can't find one on line let me know and I will electronically ship one to you.
A.I. per acre, Gallons per acre, A.I. per gallon  all terms that you get very adept at converting back and forth and once you understand it is a piece of cake.

Offline BradMarks

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Re: Kicking off the Bigtrees Tree Farm seedling planting project
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2019, 05:09:54 PM »
Some observations.  And mostly my opinion(s) on such.  I would not have laid down grass seed, water retention issues.  Seedling type from U of I nursery is fine. I know of very little availability or use of bare root conifer seedlings in that region. I wouldn't be afraid to use bare roots, just can't get them. Spraying after weeds come up works great if that is the timing you have, cover new trees with large diameter ABS or other, spray and move to next tree. If you have a pre-emerger to add to the mix, do so for future weeds. Roundup only is good for a few months. Planting costs?  about the most I've heard of, surprised your conservation district approved that amount, but since they did, the best way to view it is: you bought the trees, they paid for the planting. Good luck and happy planting

Offline krusty

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Re: Kicking off the Bigtrees Tree Farm seedling planting project
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2019, 09:46:57 PM »
NW Montana sounds delightful!

You could also consider doing a bulk seed purchase and broadcast seed the area in the fall as is. You would be surprised at how much land is reforested this way. 10 years later you will need to come in and thin it out to mature spacing.

Aside from the coastal areas with huge trees on the West coast, the rest of North America has a natural regeneration cycle every couple hundred years.

You should consider doing a small couple acres with broadcast seeding and see what you find 2 years later for viable seedlings.

Offline bigtrees

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Re: Kicking off the Bigtrees Tree Farm seedling planting project
« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2019, 03:06:14 PM »
One question I have today is part of next week's project is to prepare planting sites for tree planting in 2020. Some are easy - simple sod - and plan is to spray roundup.

About half are a little more tricky. These sites are where mountain snowberry bushes are growing. What's the best way of preparing these sites? I have a string trimmer and I can use it to cut down the bush in a 3 foot circle around the tree planting site. Then maybe I can spray roundup in July when I am back out.

Will this work? Or is there a better way? Big goal for the site preparation is to kill vegetation in a 3' (dia) circle around the planting site to reduce water competition.

Would prefer to use roundup and string trimmers over manual grubbing.

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Re: Kicking off the Bigtrees Tree Farm seedling planting project
« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2019, 07:57:36 AM »
You  could manually trim portions of shrubs out of way of young trees.  It may not take long for the trees to then shoot past shrub layer height-one or two years perhaps.  Since mt. snowberry is rhizomatous plant, it will want to creep back in from any living plants nearby.  Yet I don't think I'd go on a killing spree.  If you can just get the trees past the snowberry height.....you won't be worried about that shrub anymore.

If it is more aggressive and requires a heavier hand, I'd go with cut/treat (cut-stump) treatments on individual plants that are near my trees.  I'd check to make certain glyphosate is effective on snowberry...and that something like garlon (triclopyr) might not be a better choice.  In general, I've had good success doing cut/treat with glyphosate on all but maples....in my case, box elders.  For those I needed the triclo.

tom

Offline bigtrees

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Re: Kicking off the Bigtrees Tree Farm seedling planting project
« Reply #17 on: May 07, 2019, 01:33:59 PM »
The planting project is now complete.

Picked up the trees in Moscow last week, drove them to Northwest Montana. Dad and I flagged out a location where each flag should go, as well as spread out the tree protectors and bamboo stakes. Tree planter was real happy we did that, made the job a lot easier for him. He spent a few days planting the trees.

Couple notes:

1) To reduce weed competition, I sprayed RoundUp prior to planting the trees. I intentionally only sprayed where there would be 1 day between spraying and planting per the label. Turns out, planting went much faster than expected and there was only a few hours between spraying and planting. I think that's fine based on how RoundUp works but time will tell.

(I did manual control as well...)

2) The ground was really wet which is great for tree planting. Almost muddy in locations.

3) It's been dry since, so I am nervous about the soil drying out. Hoping for rain soon.

4) Mixture was primarily ponderosa pine with some larch and a few douglas-fir.

A note about cost:

Several folks above were concerned about the cost. I think it was fair but turned out to be more expensive than I was hoping. Here's a breakdown, on a per tree basis:

$2.75 - trees
$1.40 - tree protector and bamboo stake
$0.15 - flags
$1.12 - tree planting labor

$5.42 - total cost per tree

With 75% paid for by the conservation district plus a US tax credit, my cost is just above $1/tree.




Offline OntarioAl

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Re: Kicking off the Bigtrees Tree Farm seedling planting project
« Reply #18 on: May 07, 2019, 05:37:09 PM »
bigtrees
Congratulation on getting your trees planted the actual out of pocket expenses of a dollar a tree is remarkable.
I am surprised that nobody commented on your burn plan. 
I would strongly suggest that you ignite your piles in the fall as soon as you have snow cover that will stay.
I supervise for the last 20 + yrs. (as Fire Boss /Ignition Boss) the ignition 30000 acres of roadside slash we commence ignition after Nov 1st and are finished by the 2nd week of Dec.  Winter puts the fires to bed, snow on dry piles poises no problems we regularly ignite piles with over a foot of snow on them and achieve upwards of 90% consumption.
 The risks associated with Spring ignition and the potential for the fire to escape are so great that the Natural Ministry will not issue a permit.
I am not sure who pays the cost of an escaped fire in Montana but in Ontario they will be looking for cost collection over and above fines.
The company I work for carries $10,000,000 insurance just in case we have a holdover fire.
My primary job is the safety of my crew and the secondary is not to have to call the insurance company 
Cheers
Al
 
Al Raman

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Re: Kicking off the Bigtrees Tree Farm seedling planting project
« Reply #19 on: May 07, 2019, 09:26:57 PM »
bigtrees
Congratulation on getting your trees planted the actual out of pocket expenses of a dollar a tree is remarkable.
I am surprised that nobody commented on your burn plan.
I would strongly suggest that you ignite your piles in the fall as soon as you have snow cover that will stay.
I supervise for the last 20 + yrs. (as Fire Boss /Ignition Boss) the ignition 30000 acres of roadside slash we commence ignition after Nov 1st and are finished by the 2nd week of Dec.  Winter puts the fires to bed, snow on dry piles poises no problems we regularly ignite piles with over a foot of snow on them and achieve upwards of 90% consumption.
 The risks associated with Spring ignition and the potential for the fire to escape are so great that the Natural Ministry will not issue a permit.
I am not sure who pays the cost of an escaped fire in Montana but in Ontario they will be looking for cost collection over and above fines.
The company I work for carries $10,000,000 insurance just in case we have a holdover fire.
My primary job is the safety of my crew and the secondary is not to have to call the insurance company
Cheers
Al
 
Well, weather is the driver for when the best time to burn is. In Montana, falls are usually nice. We're allowed to burn until November 30th, and most often the sticking snow doesn't come until mid-December. We can then start burning on March 1st, and there is still a foot of snow on the ground then most often.
The plan is to do a spring burning when there still is plenty of snow on the ground. My dad and I covered the piles with tarps so they will stay good and dry all winter and should burn well in the spring. We will consider a fall burning if weather conditions are appropriate prior to November 30th.


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Last post February 06, 2006, 02:00:00 PM
by DoubleD
 


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