Field Notes: How do Trees Grow in the Nursery?

March 9, 2018 11:16 am

Field Notes: How do Trees Grow in the Nursery?

by Area Forester Manij Upadhyay

I went to Garland Gray Forestry Center, Courtland Virginia to learn about pine seedling production last week. Our nurseries have been growing quality seedlings based on research and experience for 100 years. The day that I arrived at the nursery people were lifting seedlings from the bed with the help of a machine called a lifter.


Full bed belt lifter

Do you know how seedlings are grown in nurseries?

Selection of the best seed is the most important part of nursery production.  Seeds are collected from fast-growing, straight and disease-resistant trees. In southeast Virginia, the best time for seed sowing is spring. Regular watering and application of fertilizer is required for growth and development of the seedlings. In addition, treatment techniques to protect seedlings from various insects, diseases and weeds are used.

During the production of seedlings, shoot and root pruning practices are used. These techniques help to increase crop uniformity, control height, and prepare the seedlings for shipping.

Most bare root seedlings are taken out from the seedbed in the winter. Seedling lifters and transporters are used for lifting and transporting the plants from the field to the grading building.


Seedling transporter

During packing, seedlings are graded separately based on size and quality.  Packed seedlings are then stored in cool temperatures. Stored seedlings go dormant for shipping. Fully dormant seedlings survive better during shipment, and after planting than non-dormant seedling.

Landowners can expect excellent survival rates on our seedlings. Our young trees can be expected to grow fast and have good form for timber production.


Loblolly pine seedling beds