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Author Topic: Trees from seeds experiment failure  (Read 394 times)

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Offline dougtrr2

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Trees from seeds experiment failure
« on: May 29, 2020, 05:26:48 PM »
I tried an experiment in starting trees from nuts.  I made a box to hold 20 small biodegradable flower pots.  I filled them with soil from my woods.  I used walnut, red oak, burr oak, and shagbark hickory.  I put several  nuts in each pot.  I did not mix types within the pots.  My planter box sat outside all through the winter.  As of today, not one sprout is showing.  Any ideas what went wrong?

Ironically, I planted walnuts in five places out by my road.  4 of 5 of those locations sprouted.  Same walnuts.

I am keeping is simple.  I figure trees sprout in the woods, I shouldn't have to do a lot.  I made the box with a hardware cloth screen to keep the squirrels out. 

Doug in SW IA

Offline EOTE

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Re: Trees from seeds experiment failure
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2020, 07:13:05 PM »
I tried this experiment over 20 years ago primarily with black walnuts.  Working at a research facility, we planted nuts in various media and configurations.   For black walnut, the best way (i.e. germination rate) to start them in a mulch bed and transplant after germination.  For oak and maple, deep pots with native soil worked best.  

Small shallow pots don't maintain the moisture content and the temperature varies too much for consistent germination.
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Offline btulloh

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Re: Trees from seeds experiment failure
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2020, 07:28:31 PM »
Good info. Thanks for posting that.
HM126

Offline saskatchewanman

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Re: Trees from seeds experiment failure
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2020, 11:01:55 PM »
Where are you from? 

Oak acorns die if dried excessively.

In very cold areas seeds not buried in the soil could also possibly die from cold.

Offline dougtrr2

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Re: Trees from seeds experiment failure
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2020, 07:26:51 AM »
Small shallow pots don't maintain the moisture content and the temperature varies too much for consistent germination.
That would make sense.  Next year I think I will try staking out an area, planting the nuts and then transplanting as soon as I can.  I would still need to make some sort of hardware cloth cover to keep the squirrels out.  

Thanks,
Doug in SW IA


Offline Treeflea24

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Re: Trees from seeds experiment failure
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2020, 02:47:36 PM »
Cool experiment - I love this kind of stuff.
I did something similar last fall with black walnut. I have a fenced garden, and I buried ~100 of them on 3" x 3" spacing in a marked area in there. Covered them with a layer of compost. Now there are 70-80 seedlings that are between 3" and 8" tall. I wasnt planting to transplant them until this fall or next spring, but maybe I am asking for trouble with leaving them in a garden bed for a year??

I agree with EOTE - seems like the reason they may have failed is because of being in the planter boxes rather than being underground. I'd bet it freezes harder inside those boxes than in does 2-3" buried in a garden bed. Same for retaining moisture.

Try the same experiment, but stick them in the ground. Stake a piece of mesh hardware cloth, or chicken wire over the area you plant and let us know how it turns out! This is the beauty of experimentation.

Offline clearcut

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Re: Trees from seeds experiment failure
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2020, 08:12:48 PM »
Someone may have done the experiments already:

The Woody Plant Seed Manual
Author(s): Franklin T. Bonner; Robert P. Karrfalt

Date: 2008
Source: Agric. Handbook No. 727. Washington, DC. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 1223 p.
Publication Series: Agricultural Handbook
Station: Washington Office

Download Publication

Offline EOTE

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Re: Trees from seeds experiment failure
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2020, 09:09:22 PM »
I wasnt planting to transplant them until this fall or next spring, but maybe I am asking for trouble with leaving them in a garden bed for a year??


I would not leave them through the summer as they develop quite a root system which you will have a hard time digging out and separating.  It will also cause transplant shock if you end up tearing off some of the roots.  By now they are probably already rooted in 12 - 14" deep.
EOTE (End of the Earth - i.e. last place on the road in the middle of nowhere)  Retired.  Old guys rule!
Buzz Lightsaw, 12 Mexicans, and lots of Guy Toys

Offline Treeflea24

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Re: Trees from seeds experiment failure
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2020, 03:57:09 PM »
I wasnt planting to transplant them until this fall or next spring, but maybe I am asking for trouble with leaving them in a garden bed for a year??


I would not leave them through the summer as they develop quite a root system which you will have a hard time digging out and separating.  It will also cause transplant shock if you end up tearing off some of the roots.  By now they are probably already rooted in 12 - 14" deep.
Thanks for the input. 
I just read up on root pruning in the bare root nursery practices chapter of the awesome text that clearcut linked.

Thanks for the info guys.

Offline luap

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Re: Trees from seeds experiment failure
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2020, 08:44:16 AM »
My own experience with oak. I discovered that to test the acorns to see if they are viable is to put them in water. Any that float are no good. I had good germination rate by inserting the acorns in ceiling tile board and just laying it out on the ground over the winter. Keep in mind we have several months of snow cover here.

Offline EOTE

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Re: Trees from seeds experiment failure
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2020, 09:08:22 AM »
My own experience with oak. I discovered that to test the acorns to see if they are viable is to put them in water. Any that float are no good. I had good germination rate by inserting the acorns in ceiling tile board and just laying it out on the ground over the winter. Keep in mind we have several months of snow cover here.
I've heard of the term "floaters" before but never with the term "acorns".  Must be a UP thing.  :D :D :D
EOTE (End of the Earth - i.e. last place on the road in the middle of nowhere)  Retired.  Old guys rule!
Buzz Lightsaw, 12 Mexicans, and lots of Guy Toys


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