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Fertilizer for seedlings

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Last fall, I planted seedlings of walnut, red maple, and white oak.  Most are around 1 foot tall now.   Should I use any fertilizer on them this fall?  I was thinking of putting a little 16-4-8 on the trees. 

Texas Ranger:
In my opinion it is unnecessary, particularly the nitrogen, unless the soil is pure sand. A surface application will encourage weed and herbaceous growth.  

Have never used it on forest plantings here. Only seen it used in seed orchards or experiments. We found spacing and sunlight was the best result. ;)

Fertilizer studies have shown growth response to Nitrogen. You might disperse some of that 16-4-8 around a few of your seedlings to see if you detect a growth difference in the leaves. Water is probably the most limiting factor on seedling growth, next to competition from other grass or plants. 

Those fertilizer studies showed response by increased ring growth the following two years with only one application. Those studies were around 1937 in the Harvard Black Rock Forest across the river from Poughkeepsie, NY. Species in the plots were yellow poplar, white ash, and red oak. 

Some studies have showed nitrogen fertilizer was lost very quickly from rain events, helped dominant trees the best, suppressed others that were not dominant and the affect was reduced by the 3rd year. Spacing and sunlight had a longer term affect and much cheaper. If you have grass and tall weeds that are not taken care of your little seedlings will be even worst off from loss of light and being choked out. Be sure to keep them watered well while in containers.


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