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Shift of weather patterns necessitates rethinking of reforestation methods

Forest landowners can greatly increase the survival rate of pine tree seedlings by changing when and how they plant, according to research conducted here.

"There's been too many (reforestation) failures over the last decade or so," said Dr. Eric Taylor, Texas Cooperative Extension forestry specialist.

"Some landowners have had to replant two, three or even four years in a row because of poor seedling survival."

Second-year data from an ongoing comparison of planting methods show that survival rates could be significantly increased by using containerized seedlings and planting in the fall instead of the winter or early spring.

In 2000, a Texas Forest Service survey showed Texas had 12 million acres in forest land, all of it in the East Texas Piney Woods area. Approximately 61 percent of the forest land was owned by non-industrial private forest landowners. Another 32 percent was owned by industry and investment groups, and the remainder was publicly owned. In 2000, approximately 160,000 acres were being replanted each year. Non-industrial private landowners accounted for about half of the replantings

Taylor's test show that fall-planted containerized seedlings had a 93 percent survival rate compared to 67 percent survivability for bare root seedlings. After two years, the containerized seedlings averaged about 4 feet tall and 6-3/4 inches in diameter. The bare root fall-plantings averaged less than 3 feet tall and about 0.4 inches in diameter.

"Now that the third growing season is under way, the fall-planted containerized trees are really taking off," Taylor said. "Some are 7 feet tall and taller. Compare that to traditional bare root/spring seedlings that have been left behind."

As for spring plantings, both bare root and containerized seedlings had a 83 percent survival rate. The containerized seedlings were only slightly larger than the bare root plantings after two years.

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Source:Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications


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