Seedlings reforesting Florida
ANN M. O'PHELANThere are many reasons to want to plant trees, including: the desire to return an area to its natural state; for industrial forestry — the production of lumber, pulpwood, poles and mulch; the need to leave something for one's children or grandchildren to enjoy; the longing to provide wildlife habitat; and even for the enjoyment of a little more shade.
Published: October 31, 2012
Published: October 31, 2012
Thanks to Florida Forest Service's Reforestation program, you can easily plant pine seedlings, such as longleaf pines, Choctawhatchee sand pines and slash pines, all for a good price.
What is the impetus behind the program? Back in the late 1920s to early 1930s, much of the natural forests had been depleted, as the population increased in the state and logging, along with disease, left many areas with little or no forests. Starting in the 1950s, the FFS stepped up its efforts.
FFS found superior trees from Florida's natural forests and collected their branch tips. The tips were then grafted onto compatible rootstock. Lastly, the FFS began producing pine seedlings for sale to Florida landowners, a program that is still offered to this day.
Starting on July 1 of every year, orders are taken for the upcoming tree-planting season. This year, the tree season is from Dec. 1, through Feb. 28, 2013, and it's also when the seedlings are ready for shipment. Order forms should be submitted, along with payment, to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Once your order and payment has been received, you may pick up your seedlings at Andrews Nursery in Chiefland. Or for a small delivery fee, you may also choose to have them delivered to one of the Florida Forest Service delivery points. All seedlings must be planted in the state of Florida.
While the ordering has been going on for a few months now, there are still a lot of seedlings left.
"Overall, we have about 3 million seedlings remaining for sale out of the 12 million produced. This includes bare root seedlings and containerized seedlings," said Steve Gilly, Andrews nursery manager, FFS, FDACS, who explained that the choice between bare root and containerized seedlings is based on availability.
Depending on where you plan to plant the pine seedlings makes a difference on the type you should purchase. Some seedlings are better suited for particular site types. For example, slash pines work well in wet flatwoods, whereas the Choctawhatchee sand pines grow well on dry sand hills. The FFS produces all pine species that grow in Florida.
You can ask for assistance with reforestation costs or with determining the best species of pine seedlings to plant by calling a county forester: www.floridaforestservice.com/field_operations/county_foresters/index.html
Although the seedlings are generally sold by the thousand orders, they may be in as small as 250 seedling quantities.
"We sell to a wide variety of forest landowners, from Mr. Jones that only needs 250 seedlings to plant a row across the back of his property, to over 1 million seedlings that are purchased by large corporations doing large-scale reforestations," said Gilly.
Purchasers include private, nonindustrial landowners, state-owned lands, federal lands, counties, municipalities and the forest industry.
The prices of the seedlings vary slightly by the type and the amount ordered. For example, the forest source longleaf pine sells for $50 per 250 seedlings, while 1,000 seedlings cost $70. The Choctawhatchee sand pines start at $35 for 250 and go up to $45 per 1,000.
The FFS makes every effort to provide fresh seedlings that are packaged in a quality-conscious manner; however, purchasers are encouraged to make every effort to ensure that their seedlings are planted in a quality-conscious manner as soon as possible after delivery.
According to the FFS, successful tree planting is dependent on three important factors:
Today, Florida has more than 16 million acres of forests covering more than 49 percent of the state, but we need to keep planting. According to the Florida Forestry Association (2010), "Pine reforestation in Florida is currently at low levels last seen in the 1950s. Reforestation data originating from the U.S. Forest Service for the 2008-2009 planting season shows only approximately 61,000 acres of pine reforestation being accomplished. This compares to planting levels averaging between 175,000 and 200,000 acres throughout the '90s and between 200,000 and 300,000 acres in the '80s."