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Time right for planting tree seedlings

Cool temperatures and abundant soil moisture make this the ideal time for landowners to plant tree seedlings in Louisiana, Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Bob Odom says.

To help landowners with their reforestation projects, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry's annual pine and hardwood seedling sale is in full swing with plenty of both varieties still available.

“We've ended a three-year cycle of drought that prevented a lot of people from reforesting their lands after timber harvests, and those who did plant saw much of their crops suffer high levels of mortality,” Odom says. “But, now the weather is great and soil moisture levels are the best we've had in four years.”

Pine seedling packets come in a minimum order of a thousand seedlings. Pine seedlings available include superior loblolly, advanced generation loblolly and slash pine.

Charles Matherne, reforestation chief for the department, says the superior loblolly seedlings have a 14 percent to 18 percent gain in growth over wild seedlings, which means they will be mature enough for harvest in nine to 12 years versus 15 to 17 years for other trees.

“We have bred pine trees specifically for application in Louisiana for about 35 years and improved their genetics greatly,” said Matherne. “Through selective parent breeding we've not only increased the growth rate, but also have improved wood quality and disease resistance.”

Matherne also mentions that the advanced generation loblolly has a 24 percent to 34 percent gain in growth over wild seedlings, and the slash pine has a 30 percent to 34 percent gain in growth paired with an exceptional resistance to rust cankers over wild seedlings.

Hardwood seedlings are available in about 35 species, including water oak, native sweet pecan, river birch and sweet gum. Hardwood packets require a minimum order of 50 seedlings.

For information about ordering seedling packets, call any district office of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry or visit the Website and click on “seedling sales.” Seedling inventories are updated weekly on the site and a downloadable order form is also available for printing.

“Many people don't realize it, but timber is the number one agricultural crop grown in this state. We have nearly 14 million acres of trees growing in Louisiana forests that are a vital component of the state's economy,” Odom notes.

“By planting pine and hardwood seedlings, we continue contributing to the health of our environment and to the well-being of the state's economic future.”

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