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Tree and Shrub Establishment - Direct Seeding

Tree and Shrub Establishment Direct Seeding Job Sheet (JS-MO612ds)

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   JS-MO612ds: Tree and Shrub Establishment - Direct Seeding  (PDF, 100 KB)

Definition

Establishing woody plants by direct seeding of tee and/or shrub seeds.

Purpose
  • Forest production

  • Wildlife habitat

  • Long-term erosion control

  • Water quality improvement

  • Waste treatment

  • Air pollution reduction

  • Carbon sequestration

  • Energy conservation

  • Enhance aesthetics

Condition Where Practice Applies

Direct seeding for planting may be used under any or the following conditions:

  • In open areas

  • In under-stocked woodlands

  • On areas where the site can be prepared

  • Where measures for protecting seed and germinating seedling can be provided

Specifications
Site Preparation

Any vegetation that would hinder planting or provide excessive competition to the seeding should be removed with appropriate treatment. Base site preparation activities on anticipated direct seeding method and seed predation pressures. For spring seeding, begin site preparation in the fall with a spring follow up. For fall seeding, begin site preparation in mid-summer with an additional early fall follow up. If high seed predation is expected, seed predator numbers and/or habitat should be reduced. Prior to seeding, adequate protection from fire and livestock should be established.

Site preparation is planned as follows:

  • Mechanical means such as plowing, disking or roto-tilling

  • Chemical control of vegetation

  • Prescribed burning based on current approved prescribed burn plan

  • Other

If a cover crop is needed, NRCS can assist the landowner with the species type and rate to apply.

If chemical weed control is needed, NRCS can assist the landowner with the product type and treatment type needed.

Existing shrubs or trees may be maintained if the site is to be inter-planted and the retained plants will provide functions consistent with the planned use. For wildlife purposes, consider retaining some trees and shrubs that will provide den sites or mast production while the new planting is becoming established. Undesirable plants that will hamper planting or provide excessive shade should be removed or killed.

NRCS can assist the landowner with deciding what tree and shrub species to maintain in inter-planted areas.

Prior to planting, adequate protection from fire and livestock should be established.

Seed Collection

If seeds are field collected, place seeds in porous bags to prevent heat buildup. Keep seeds cool and stratify if necessary. Careful observation of seed fall and the amount of seed visible on the trees before seed fall will help in deciding when to collect seed. Use the following table to help manage seed collection for selected species. Tree species per acre rates are based on 1500 seeds per acre for drilling or hand planting at and 3000 seeds/ac for a broadcasting method. Shrub species rates are double the tree rate.

Table 1 - Seed Collection Information:
  Wild Plum Black Walnut Pecan White Oak Group Red Oak Group
Seed Maturity June-October September-October September-October October-November October- November
Seed Dispersal Immediately after ripening. Gravity, animal and water dissemination Immediately after ripening.  Gravity, animal and water dissemination Immediately after ripening. Gravity, animal and water dissemination Fall and early winter. Gravity, animal and water dissemination Fall and early winter. Gravity, animal and water dissemination
Good Seed Years Every 1-2 Every 1-2 Every 1-2 Every 3-5 Every 1-3
Germination Spring following summer/fall seed dispersal Spring following fall seed dispersal Spring following fall seed dispersal Immediately following seed dispersal Spring following fall seed dispersal
Prechilling 90-150 days 90-120 days 90 days None required 30-60 days
Clean Seeds/LB 850 50 100 Bur Oak - 60
White Oak - 90
Swamp WO - 120
Red Oak - 125
Black Oak - 250
Pin Oak - 420
LBS/Ac Rate 3.5 30 15 Bur Oak - 25
White Oak - 16.7
Swamp WO - 12.5
Red Oak - 12
Black Oak - 6
Pin Oak - 3.6

 

Seedling Methods and Rates

Tree/shrub seed may be planted anytime from November through April that soil and site conditions allow (Do not seed into frozen soil. Good soil moisture should be present in upper 10 inches before planting.). Non-stratified seed should be planted before January 1. Spring seeding can reduce rodent and insect damage. Fall seeding can eliminate the need for stratification. Acorns of most species in the white oak group have little or no dormancy and should be planted as soon as possible after collection in the fall. Keep seed in sealed plastic bags in refrigerated storage (at about 40 degrees F) until ready to plant. Inspect seed before planting. Care must be taken to completely cover the seed and achieve good soil-seed contact. Use the deeper planting depths for larger seeds, herbicide pretreatments, if seed predation pressure is anticipated, or if surface soil moisture is limiting.

One or more of the following seeding methods should be used:

  • Broadcast: Broadcast the seed evenly over the planting area and cover seeds with mineral soil (1-2 inches). Roll the planted area to assure good soil-seed contact.

  • Strip: Broadcast the seed evenly over the prepared strips. Cover with mineral soil (1-2 inches). Roll the planted area to assure good soil-seed contact.

  • Spot: Plant 2 to 3 seeds per spot, 1-4 inches deep. Cover with mineral soil and seal planting hole with adequate pressure.

  • Machine: Plant seeds 1-4 inches deep. Cover with mineral soil and use packing wheels.

NRCS can assist the landowner with decisions on plant species, plant spacing, planting method, etc.

Operation and Maintenance:  Care after direct seeding

Weed Control: Elimination of competing vegetation is normally carried out for one to five years after planting. Weed control is an important factor in tree and shrub seedling survival, especially for hardwood species. Weed control will be accomplished through cultivation and/or herbicide use.

Mechanical or hand cultivation should be kept at least 6 inches from the seedling and no deeper than 3 inches to avoid damage to the seedling and roots. Additional methods may be needed to control weeds closer to the seedling. The use of herbicides usually provides good weed control. Mowing generally does not provide adequate control since the weeds are still competing for nutrients and water; also potential damage to seedlings from mowing is high. High mowing  (> 10 inches) to control flowering and seed development of weeds in the establishment year can be beneficial.

Pest Management: Control of weeds (which may hide rodents or rabbits), repellants or poisons and hunting should be considered to reduce damage from wild animals. New seedlings should be monitored for potential wildlife, insect and disease problems and appropriate control measures taken if significant problems are found.

Livestock Exclusion: Plant injury or death should be controlled through preventative measures.  Domestic animals that might graze on seedlings should be excluded.

Replanting: Some sites may have unsatisfactory germination or plants may die over time to a variety of causes. The decision to re-plant for some or all of the losses or failures will be based on whether or not the remaining plants will likely meet the desired purpose(s) and any program requirements. After two growing seasons, a final status check of the plantings or regeneration should be conducted. For this planting, an acceptable level of plant survival is ____ woody plants per acre.  (NRCS can help the landowner determine the acceptable level of plant survival)

Operation and Maintenance - Summary
  1. Competing vegetation will be controlled until the woody plants are established.

  2. State noxious weeds will be controlled.

  3. Reseeding will be required when survival is inadequate.

  4. Supplemental water will be provided as needed and where feasible.

  5. Plantings should be inspected periodically and protected from adverse impacts including insects, diseases, competing vegetation, wildfire and damage from livestock or wildlife.