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Shift of weather patterns necessitates rethinking of reforestation methods

planting the bare root seedlings," Taylor said.

"Doing everything right" meant meticulous attention to care of the bare root seedlings, soil moisture at planting time, attention to weather conditions and planting techniques, Taylor said.

If everything is done correctly, containerized plantings have little or no economic advantage over bare root seedlings ?if planting in the spring, he noted.

But it's rare that everything is done correctly, particularly considering the landowner doesn't have full control over all factors with bare root seedlings, he said. The trees may arrive at the site already stressed.

"And this is a big factor in their survival," Taylor said.

Another big factor is the subjection of new to hot dry conditions before they've had a chance to acclimate and recover from the stress of planting.

Rethinking planting time could remedy the loss due to droughty conditions, Taylor said. Traditional methods prescribe planting in the winter, but conditions ?primarily soil moisture and availability of planting crews ?may mean planting isn't done until late March. A decade or more ago, East Texas weather patterns favored success with this planting strategy. Relatively cool, wet weather throughout mid-summer gave the new seedlings time to recover from root damage.

But weather patterns have changed, Taylor said.

"Using a Texas Forest Service analysis of 100 years of weather data, we see a cyclical pattern of 25 years of summers that are either hot and drier or cooler and wetter than average," he said. "We're now in about year eight of a 25-year hot-and-dry cycle. That doesn't mean every year will be hot and dry. The last two years weren't. It just means that the trend will be for more hot-and-dry summers."

Most years, Taylor expects this hot-and-drier trend to give an even a bigger advantage to containerized fall plantings over other methods.

Economically, fall planting of containerized
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Source:Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications


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