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Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
,,.:.... ; n o F rida
\ Circular 767
Florida Cooperative Extension Service 0 Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences 0 University of Florida 0 John T. Woeste, Dean
TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
1. Why Plant Pines? 3
2. How Much Will it Cost? 3
3. Where to Obtain Support 3
4. Selecting a Species and Seed Source 4
5. Purchasing Seedlings 4
6. Types of Seedlings 5
7. Preparing the Site 6
8. Fertilizing 6
9. Transporting Seedlings 6
10. Handling and Storing Seedlings 8
11. Planting the Seedlings 8
12. Checking Planting Quality 11
13. Maintaining the Planting Site 11
14. Evaluating Planting Success 12
Appendix A 13
Appendix B 13
Literature Cited 14
Most pine regeneration in the Southern United States is accomplished by planting. The objective of this
circular is to provide information on the steps involved in successfully planting southern pine seedlings. Some
of the steps included are preparing the site, purchasing seedlings, transporting and handling seedlings, plant-
ing, checking planting quality and evaluating success. In addition, information on the costs of regeneration
practices and information on where to obtain financial and professional forestry assistance is provided.
Mary L. Duryea is Assistant Professor, Department of Forestry, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Univer-
sity of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611; James C. Edwards is Assistant Professor, Cooperative Extension Service,
Florida A & M University, Tallahassee, FL 32307.
In a recent survey, landowners were asked to iden-
tify the most important reasons for owning forest pro-
perty; the top answers were wildlife, beauty, heritage
for future generations, firewood and timber needs,
recreation, hunting, and future investment . All
these contribute to the importance of establishing a
forest stand on a parcel of land. In addition, by plant-
ing trees, a landowner can help provide the future
wood supply of our nation.
In the South we are presently regenerating less than
half of the acres that are harvested each year. Because
of this, trends show that our forest land is being
depleted, and the supply of wood from these forests
will not meet the growing demands of the nation in
the future unless we plant trees now. Because 60 per-
cent of the forest land in the United States is owned
by nonindustrial private forest owners, these land-
owners are extremely important to our future forests.
Most pine regeneration in the South is accom-
plished by planting. The objective of this circular is
to provide information on the steps involved in suc-
cessfully planting southern pine seedlings. Although
pine regeneration is not difficult to accomplish, to be
successful it does require advanced planning and
careful implementation of each of the steps. When
considering alternatives for each of these steps, it is
a good idea to seek the advice of a professional
forester such as your county forester or a consulting
FIGURE 1. In addition to providing economic
return from selling wood products, a forest stand
on your land can provide other uses such as recrea-
tional opportunities (top) and grazing areas for
PARCEL OF LAND TO REGENERATED
NUMBER OF ACRES
REGENERATION NUMBER SUPPLIES PERSONS DATE(S) COST ($) COMMENTS
PRACTICE OF USED INVOLVED PRACTICE
TOTAL PER ACRE
4 I I t .9I.
.9 I I 9
4 I I 9I.
FIGURE 2. Example of a form to record information on regeneration practices and expenses.
4 I 91.
1. WHY PLANT PINES?
If you have land that is idle, nonproductive, or has
recently been harvested, pine trees are a good crop
to consider planting. The trees are not expensive ($20
to $50 per 1,000), and management costs range from
$3 to $5 per acre per year. Also, tax benefits and other
incentive programs for tree farmers are provided by
the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Serv-
ice (ASCS), Soil Conservation Service (SCS), and
Florida Division of Forestry. These incentive pro-
grams are particularly helpful in lowering the costs
of site preparation and planting.
The potential returns from pines in a 20-year rota-
tion may range from $400 to $1,500 per acre. In
addition to substantial economic returns, a forest
stand provides recreational areas for picnicking, hik-
ing, and hunting for family members, guests, and
visitors (Figure la). Many tree farmers also use the
forested areas to graze livestock (Figure Ib); however,
animals should not be allowed on planted land until
the trees are large enough to withstand cattle distur-
bance. Planting trees also may help control soil
2. HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
Much of the work of planting trees can be a family
project accomplished in spare time. However, for large
acreages or where competing vegetation must be
eliminated, mechanical equipment will be needed for
site preparation and planting. Whether landowners
use their own farm equipment or contract with others
to do the work, these additional costs need to be
Regeneration costs will include (1) cost of the seed-
lings and (2) costs for practices such as site prepara-
tion, planting, and site maintenance. (See the sections
on each of these practices and see Appendices A and
B for approximate costs.)
Keeping good records is an essential part of
regeneration and land management (Figure 2).
Reliable information on the timing and costs of prac-
tices will help the landowner during tax preparation.
Also, if problems with regeneration occur, the infor-
mation may be useful in problem solving, and when
another parcel of land is regenerated, the information
may be useful in regeneration planning.
3. WHERE TO OBTAIN SUPPORT
Many agencies provide technical and financial
assistance to landowners interested in planting trees.
The Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Serv-
ice (ASCS) administers federal incentive programs.
The Soil Conservation Service (SCS) provides
management planning and technical assistance. The
Florida Forestry Association administers the tree farm
program. The Florida Division of Forestry, through
your county forester, provides management planning
and technical assistance. Your county extension agent,
of the Florida Cooperative Extension Service, pro-
vides educational and technical information on plant-
ing pines and managing your forest land (Figure 3).
FIGURE 3. The extension agent in your county
provides educational programs, such as this
demonstration on tree planting, and materials
which help landowners learn about planting trees
and managing their forest land.
4. SELECTING A SPECIES
AND SEED SOURCE
One of the first decisions to be made is what tree
species to plant, and in Florida, there is a choice of
four major pine species: loblolly, slash, longleaf, and
sand pines. Although selecting the right species
depends to some extent on the final product desired,
the soil condition on the planting site is one of the
biggest factors determining what species to plant
It is a good idea to see what other landowners are
successfully planting and to look at other forest
stands nearby and on similar sites to see which
species are doing best. Also, your county forester will
be familiar with the benefits of growing particular
The two Florida Division of Forestry nurseries and
commercial nurseries grow seedlings for your area.
It is desirable to buy genetically improved seedlings,
even though they might cost a little more. "Improved"
means that they have been selected because they are
better growers or because they are more disease resis-
tant (Figure 5). In areas which have a disease problem
such as fusiform rust, purchasing rust resistant seed-
lings will be beneficial.
IF YOUR SITE IS THEN PLANT
Poorly drained Slash
Moderately drained Loblolly or Slash
Dry Longleaf or Sand
FIGURE 4. How to select the appropriate species
for planting, based on soil characteristics.
5. PURCHASING SEEDLINGS
Pine seedlings should be ordered as early as possi-
ble before the planting season (November to
February). Seedlings may be purchased from Florida
Division of Forestry nurseries or privately owned
nurseries. To find out where to order trees in your
area, call your county forester. Place your order as
soon as possible because often there may be a limited
number of seedlings available. Select a date for
delivery and pick-up of your seedlings which closely
coincides with the planting date, because the longer
the trees are kept out of the ground, the lower their
survival rates will be after planting.
FIGURE 5. Genetically improved trees grow bet-
ter than unimproved trees. The two trees in front
of the geneticist are improved; the two trees in back
of him are unimproved trees.
6. TYPES OF SEEDLINGS
Two types of seedlings are planted in the South:
bareroot seedlings grown in soil in nursery beds and
containerized seedlings grown in small containers
(Figure 6). Most planting is done successfully with
bareroot seedlings. However, containerized seedlings
may be beneficial under some planting conditions.
Containerized longleaf pine seedlings may have better
survival rates because of their protected, undisturbed
root system. Containerized seedlings may perform
better on adverse sites. Also, the planting season can
be extended (past the normal November to February
season) using containerized seedlings if soil moisture
and weather conditions are favorable .
FIGURE 6. A containerized longleaf pine seedling at a container nursery in Florida (left), and a slash
pine bareroot seedling at an outdoor forest tree nursery in Florida (right).
7. PREPARING THE SITE
There are two main objectives for preparing the site:
(1) to remove the slash and other plant debris to
facilitate planting, and (2) to eliminate unwanted
vegetation which will compete with newly planted
trees for water, sunlight, and nutrients (Figure 7).
Three major methods of site preparation include
use of (1) a prescribed fire, with either a broadcast
burn or the burning of piles after mechanical site
preparation; (2) mechanical site preparation, which
may involve chopping, disking, shearing, raking, pil-
ing, or bedding; and (3) chemical herbicides. One or
any combination of methods may be effective on a
particular site. (For more details on site preparation,
see IFAS Fact Sheet FRC-37 .) The ideal methods
are those which cause minimal site disturbance, clear
slash and competing vegetation best, and have the
lowest cost .
Many Florida soils need additional nutrients for
optimum tree growth. Two soil groups (A and B) estab-
lished by the Cooperative Research in Forest Fertiliza-
tion (CRIFF) program at the University of Florida need
fertilizer at the time of planting (Figure 8) . Land-
owners should determine if the soil on their land
belongs to a soil series in either of these groups; soil
series maps are available in your county extension
office or ASCS office. Useful information on the forest
soils of Florida is available in Fact Sheet FRC-33 .
Fertilizers should be incorporated at the time of site
Soil groups: A and B
Major land area: Savannas
Drainage: Very poor to poor
Soil: Sandy surface layer less than 20 inches deep,
with clayey soil below
Recommendation: Phosphorus at 50 Ib/acre
Ground rock phosphate 565 Ib/acre
Concentrated superphosphate 257 Ib/acre
Diammonium phosphate 250 Ib/acre
FIGURE 8. Soils needing fertilizers at the time of
9. TRANSPORTING SEEDLINGS
SEEDLINGS ARE PERISHABLE and should be
protected from temperature and moisture extremes
at all times. During transportation, seedlings should
be covered to prevent drying or overheating. A refrig-
erated truck or cooler (34 to 36 o F) is best; if this is
unavailable, seedlings should be covered to protect
them from the sun and wind (Figure 9).
FIGURE 7. Removal of logging slash and vegeta-
tion on the planting site will facilitate planting and
result in better establishment of seedlings. On this
site piles of slash and vegetation will be burned
FIGURE 9. (a) and (b) Seedlings are often loaded and transported in a refrigerated truck. (c) and (d) Seed-
lings can be loaded in a pickup for short-distance transportation; they should be covered with a reflective
tarp to avoid wind, sun, and heat damage.
10. HANDLING AND STORING
Try to avoid physical damage to seedlings by han-
dling them carefully and as little as possible. Keep
seedlings out of direct sunlight. Longleaf and sand
pine seedlings are extremely perishable and should
be planted as soon as they are received. It is best to
plant loblolly and slash pine seedlings within a week,
but if you must store them, refrigerated storage (34
to 36 o F) conditions are best. If cold storage facilities
are not available, store seedlings in a cool, shady
place. Seedlings which are in bundles should be
watered to prevent drying (Figure 10) unless they have
already been coated with clay or other absorbent
material. Avoid any exposure to freezing temperatures
- the roots are very sensitive and will die if frozen.
11. PLANTING THE SEEDLINGS
Seedlings may be planted either by hand or by
machine. Usually about 500 to 800 seedlings are
planted per acre for a pulpwood plantation. The rows
on the planting site are most often 10 to 12 feet apart,
and the seedlings are planted 5 to 8 feet apart within
the row. A 6- by 10-foot spacing will have 726 trees
per acre. (To calculate this: 43,560 ft2/acre 60
ft2/tree = 726 trees per acre.)
Seedlings are usually planted at the same depth as
they were at the nursery (with the root collar at the
ground line). Longleaf should be planted so that the
terminal bud is at or just below the ground line.
Usually a tractor and a mechanical planter are used
for machine planting (Figure 11). Before planting
begins, the following should be checked:
FIGURE 10. If it is necessary to store seedlings and refrigerated storage is unavailable, loblolly and slash
pine seedlings can be stored for a week in a cool, shady place. Seedlings should be watered to prevent
(1) The planter must make a furrow deep enough
for the entire root system.
(2) Spacing should be checked and regulated to
ensure desired spacing between each planted
(3) Depth of planting must be correct.
(4) Packing wheels should be properly aligned to
avoid running over seedlings.
(5) Shading and moisture need to be provided for
the seedlings carried on the planter.
On well-drained soils, the mound of soil created by
the planting machine may eventually wash away, and
seedlings should be planted 1 to 2 inches deeper to
account for this.
Tools commonly used for hand planting are hoe-
dads, bars, dibbles, and shovels (Figure 12). The hole
is made, and the tree is inserted with the root collar
at or slightly below the ground line (Figure 13). The
soil is then firmly packed around the seedling.
FIGURE 12. Hand-planting tools.
FIGURE 11. Seedlings being machine planted.
1. Insert bar into soil at angle shown and 2. Remove bar and place seedling in hole 3. Insert bar and pull handle towards you
push forward to upright position, with root collar just below ground to close hole at bottom.
4. Push handle to close hole and firm
soil around top of seedling's roots.
5. Fill in hole with heel.
6. Firm soil around seedling, using
hands or feet and being careful not to
FIGURE 13. Steps for planting bareroot pine seedlings with a planting bar.
12. CHECKING PLANTING QUALITY
During the planting operation it is important to
check the quality of the planting. Check to make sure
that the depth is correct, the seedling is vertical and
firmly planted in the ground, and the roots are pro-
perly placed in the hole (Figure 14). To check if the
seedling is firmly planted, grab the seedling and
gently but firmly pull upward; if the seedling is too
loosely planted, it will come out of the soil. The place-
ment of the roots can be checked by carefully dig-
ging several seedlings with a shovel, observing the
placement of the roots, and then replanting them
before they dry out.
13. MAINTAINING THE PLANTING SITE
Four years after planting, southern pine seedlings
planted with complete weed control may be three
times as tall as seedlings growing in weeds (Figure
15) . Weeds should be controlled for at least 2 years
following planting. Chemical herbicides, hand-cutting,
and mowing are three possible methods to control
weeds which surround seedlings. The newly planted
plantation should also be protected from grazing and
FIGURE 15. A tree with complete weed control
may be three times bigger after 4 years than one
with no weed control.
FIGURE 14. Satisfactory and unsatisfactory
planting of seedlings.
14. EVALUATING PLANTING SUCCESS
For the first 2 years after planting, it is important
to assess the success of your planting efforts. If, after
2 years, the planting site has less than 300 trees per
acre, replanting will be necessary.
To estimate the number of trees on the site, one
1/100th-acre plot should be evaluated for every acre
planted; for greater accuracy, two plots per acre can
be sampled. In the following example, 24 plots were
sampled on a 24-acre planting site.
Follow these steps to establish a sample plot:
With 24 Plots
11.78 feet V
(3) Repeat steps 1 and 2 on every acre planted,
recording the number of trees for each plot on
(1)Anchor an 11.78-foot rope at a randomly
selected spot on the acre.
(2) After marking the starting point, walk around
in a circle (the rope is the radius), counting all
live trees within the circle.
After adding up the total number
of live trees on all plots, use formulas 1
and 2 to calculate the number of live
trees per acre. To calculate the survival
percentage of planted seedlings on the
site, use the estimated number of live
trees per acre (from formula 2) in for-
Total number Number Average number
of live trees of plots of trees per plot
Example: 132 + 24 = 5.5
Average number Estimated number of
of trees per plot x 100 = live trees per acre
Example: 5.5 x 100 = 550
Estimated Number Estimated
number of + of trees x 100 = percent
live trees planted survival
per acre per acre for site
Example: (550 + 700) x 100 = 79%
APPENDIX A: Approximate costs for forest regeneration practices in the Southern Coastal Plain. (1984 costs
from a Southern United States survey by Straka and Watson 1985.) Costs will vary locally, depending on site
conditions, operators, etc.
REGENERATION COST PER ACRE
Mechanical site preparation
Chop only 61
Chop, rake, pile, disk 111*
Disk only 47*
Bed only 29*
Shear only 62*
Shear, rake, pile 104
Shear, rake, pile, bed 123
Shear, rake, pile, disk 143*
Prescribed burning 5
Burning after chopping 6
Burning piles 3
Burning after chemical treatment 5
Burning after other site preparation 7*
Burning, aerial ignition system 5*
Chemical herbicides* *
Aerial spary 77
Ground spray with backpack sprayer 59
Mobile ground sprayer 80*
Hand planting old fields 25*
Machine planting old fields 36*
Hand planting cutover land after intensive site preparation 35
Hand planting cutover land after less intensive site preparation 62
Machine planting cutover land 29
Insufficient data for the Southern Coastal Plain, so data are the overall average for the Southern United States.
S* Includes cost of the chemicals.
S**Based on planting 650 to 700 seedlings per acre. Does not include the cost of the seedlings.
APPENDIX B: Pine seedling costs for 1986-87 planting season, based on prices
at the Florida Division of Forestry nurseries.
PINE SPECIES COST FOR 1,000
Genetically improved slash pine 20
South Florida slash pine 20
Choctawhatchee sand pine 20
Ocala sand pine 20
Loblolly pine 20
Longleaf pine 25
1. Barnett, J.P and J.C. Brissette. 1986. Producing
southern pine seedlings in containers. USDA
Forest Service. Southern Forest Experiment Sta-
tion, New Orleans, Louisiana. General Technical
Report SO-59. 71 p.
2. Gjerstad, D.H., L.R. Nelson, J.H. Dukes, Jr., and W.A.
Retzlaff. 1984. Growth response a- physiology of
tree seedlings as affected by weed control. Pages
247-257 In Seedling Physiology and Reforestation
S: coess. (M.L. Duryea and G.N. Brown, eds.) Proc.
of Society of American Foresters Physiology Work-
ing Group Technical Session. October 16-20, 1983.
Martinus Nijhoff/Dr. W. Junk Publishers.
3. Jack, S., K. Munson, and D. Flinchum. 1984. Site
preparation: alternatives for plantation establish-
ment. Florida Cooperative Extension Service,
IFAS, University of Florida. Forest Resources and
Conservation Fact Sheet FRC-37. 4 p.
4. Munson, K.R. 1984. Forest soils of Florida: Useful
groupings for forestry purposes. Florida
Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS, University of
Florida, Forest Resources and Conservation Fact
Sheet FRC-33. 4 p.
5. Munson, K., J. Watts, D. Dippon, and D.M.
Flinchum. 1985. Forestry information system
6-Silvicultural practices. Florida Cooperative
Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS Cir-
cular 632. 20 p.
6. Straka, T.J. and W.F. Watson, 1985. Costs of
forestry practices. Forest Farmer 25: 16-22.
7. Young, R.A. and F.H. Perkuhn. 1985. PNIF manage-
ment: a social-psychological study of owners in
Illinois. North. Journal Appl. For. 2: 91-94.
This publication was produced at a cost of $1,577.80, or 53.0 cents per copy, to provide step-by-step, illustrated pro-
cedures for planting southern pines. 7-3M-87
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA, INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES, K.R. Tefertiller,
director in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture, publishes this information to further the purpose of the May 8 and
June 30,1914 Acts of Congress; and is authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institu-
tions that function without regard to race, color, sex or national origin. Single copies of Extension publications (excluding 4-H and Youth publica-
tions) are available free to Florida residents from County Extension Offices. Information on bulk rates or copies for out-of-state purchasers is "'
available from C.M. Hinton, Publications Distribution Center, IFAS Building 664, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611. Before publicizing this publication,
editors should contact this address to determine availability.