Ten Commandments for Tree Seedling Survival!

Dr. William Carey, Auburn University Professor, outlines a ten point system to help improve forest tree seedling survival. At a meeting, sponsored by International Forest Company, Dr. Carey explains his planting techniques and insists you give seedlings “tender loving care” from the time they leave the nursery until planted in the field.
Commandment Number One –
Do not allow seedlings to dry out. – Ample moisture is the key factor in seedling survival; seedlings must never be allowed to dry out from the nursery to planting. Plant immediately in the field. Remember “if they dry, they die”.
Commandment Number Two –
Transport seedlings carefully. – Rough handling can damage root systems and predispose seedlings to stress.
Commandment Number Three –
Avoid temperature extremes. – Fluctuations in temperature, especially excessive heat, during storage and transport can result in seedling trauma during outplanting.
Commandment Number Four. –
Plant promptly. – Once seedlings are lifted, minimize storage time, especially early in the season and avoid extended transport time.
Commandment Numbr Five. –
Do not trim or prune seedling roots. – Seedlings need every single tiny root to absorb moisture and nutrients from the ground. The more root surface, the better the growth.
Commandment Number Six. –
Do not wash or shake gel from seedling roots. – Gel applied to roots at the nursery prevents drying out during transport, decreases planting shock, and improves acclimation to the planting site.
Commandment Number Seven. –
Plant bareroot seedlings after October, preferably after December 15 and before April. – Cooler temperatures are more conducive to seedling survival and healthy growth.
Commandment Number Eight. –
Plant seedlings deeply. – Greater exposure to the soil and its water content – even one-half inch of added depth of planting – significantly improves survival rates.
Commandment Number Nine. –
Use mechanical planting, if possible. – Although slightly more expensive, planting mechanically yields better results and is an investment that pays off.
Commandment Number Ten –
Do not attempt to plant seedlings that have frozen in the pack. – Freezing irreversibly damages the root system, leading to seedling death.
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