FORESTS & FORESTRY IN KENTUCKY
Ralph A. Lewis
Whether we live in a large city, in
a small town, or on a farm, forests are a vital part of our lives. Forests
are one of our few renewable resources. They provide a variety of materials
for our needs and comfort and they will continue to produce these materials
if properly managed. But forests are not limitless. They can be damaged
or destroyed by acts of carelessness and greed. They can also be damaged
by neglect or lack of action. Thus, every citizen should be concerned about
the care and wise use of our forests.
The total land area of Kentucky is
approximately 25.5 million acres. Of this, 11.7 million acres are commercial
forest land. Although trees will grow in all parts of Kentucky, forests
are not uniformly distributed throughout the state. Certain regions, especially
eastern Kentucky, are heavily forested, while other areas have very little
forest land. On a percentage basis, those counties with the smallest portion
of the commercial forest are Bourbon (2.7%) and Fayette (3.1%). Those with
the highest percent are McCreary (95.1%) and Breathitt (88.9%). Overall,
45.9% of the land area in Kentucky is commercial forest.
Who owns all of our forest land? A
small percentage is owned by forest industry (1.9%). A somewhat higher
percentage is in public ownership (Federal 5.6%, State, County & Municipal,
0.7%). By far, the bulk of the land is owned by private individuals (91.8%).
Approximately 243,000 people share in this ownership with most individual
holdings being less than 100 acres. Although each individual landowner
controls a relatively small acreage, the combined effect of good or bad
forest management on all private lands will determine the future of Kentucky's
In order to appreciate the potentials
of our forests, we must know the various components of a forest community
and their relationship to one another.
Structure and Growth
There are at least 3 essential parts
in every tree: the roots, trunk, and crown (see
Figure 1). Each part has a vital role in the life processes of
the entire plant. The root system anchors the tree to the soil and absorbs
water and minerals. The trunk provides support for the crown and passageways
for water and minerals moving up to the crown and plant food moving down
to the roots. The crown is made up of branches and leaves. The branches
serve to support and space the leaves so that they can function properly.
The leaves are miniature factories
which manufacture food in the form of a sugar for the entire tree. They
use energy from sunlight to produce sugar compounds from water and from
carbon dioxide taken from the air. This process, called photosynthesis,
releases oxygen back into the air as a by-product. The sugars, and the
minerals absorbed by the roots, are distributed throughout the tree in
a watery solution by way of connecting vessels in the inner bark.
Tree growth may take several different
forms. Trees grow in height and crown spread from buds which developed
the previous year. Once the new twig stops growing and becomes firm, it
will not grow again in length until another bud is formed, bursts, and
starts a new shoot. Roots grow in length by the division of cells in the
root tip. Although the process is basically the same as shoot growth, the
root tip retains the potential for additional growth and no buds are formed.
Trees grow in diameter by means of
a layer of growth cells called the "cambium." This layer of living cells
is located between the bark and wood and it extends all over the tree.
Actual growth comes about through cell multiplication on both sides of
the cambium, which forms new wood next to the old wood and new bark next
to the old bark. During the spring when the tree is growing rapidly, the
newly formed wood cells have large cavities and thin walls. This layer
of soft, light wood is called "springwood." In contrast, growth during
the summer is slower and the wood cells have thicker walls and smaller
cavities. This firmer, darker wood is termed "summerwood."
The two types of annual diameter growth
are so different on most trees that they are easily visible as layers extending
around the stem. These layers appear as rings on a tree stump and a count
of the rings will provide a good estimate of the age of that tree.
Species and Individual Differences
Although all trees have basic similarities
in structure, they may differ greatly as species and as individual trees.
A large variety of forest tree species can be found in Kentucky. In the
far western regions, southern species such as bald-cypress, cherrybark
oak, and willow oak can be found. In the mountains of eastern Kentucky
some of the more northern species such as eastern hemlock, eastern white
pine, and yellow birch are present. Between these two extremes we find
most of the important tree species that are native to the eastern United
States (see Figure 2a , and Figure
Included in this wide selection are
some of the most useful trees to be found anywhere. Yellow-poplar is one
of the most distinctive and valuable trees in our forests. The unique shape
of its leaves and its tulip-like flower make the yellow-poplar easy to
identify. Because of rapid growth, the older trees are often the giants
in hardwood forests. Yellow-poplar is used for lumber, veneer, pulpwood
and mine timbers. Even more valuable for veneer and high quality lumber
is the black walnut. This species does double duty by producing both an
edible fruit and a strong and beautiful wood. The wood is in great demand
for furniture, gunstocks, musical instruments and many other uses. Some
tree species which are not native to Kentucky have become valuable assets.
Loblolly pine is a southern pine which is now being planted in large numbers
in Western Kentucky. This species has been particularly useful in erosion
control on stripmined areas.
While some species are widely distributed
over the state, none are able to grow well on every site. Each has its
own set of growth requirements and limitations. Some species can tolerate
poorly drained soils, low fertility, shading from other vegetation, or
other adverse factors, while others would die under similar conditions.
Thus, when we plant a tree, we must be careful to use a species which can
survive and grow on our planting site.
Even within species, individual trees
will exhibit considerable variation. Differences may be found in size,
shape, growth rate, wood quality, resistance to attacks by disease or insect
pests, and a multitude of other traits. Although much of this variation
will be due to external influences (local soil conditions, adjacent vegetation,
etc.), some will reflect innate genetic differences. Forest scientists
are exploiting these genetic differences to produce trees which possess
superior potential for growth, quality, and pest resistance. As genetically
improved trees are developed, they should significantly increase the productivity
of our forests.
The Forest Community
A forest is more than "a bunch of trees."
It is a complex and changing system of plants and animals living in, on,
and above a suitable soil. Trees are the dominant vegetation; however,
other green plants, shrubs, wild flowers, grasses, and vines are important
components in the community. In addition, there are non-green plants called
fungi. These organisms are unable to make their own food so they must live
off of other plant or animal material.
Many different types of animals are
part of the forest community. They range from large animals such as deer
to very tiny animals, insects, worms, and protozoa. In a given forest area,
all species of animals will not be present. Species and numbers of animals
per species will vary according to the influences of the soil, vegetation,
and other animals.
Since plants are the ultimate source
of food for the animals in a forest (or anywhere else), a number of plants
and animals may be grouped together into "food chains." The first link
in all chains is the transfer of energy from the sun to the plant. ln turn,
the plant utilizes the energy to manufacture food for survival and growth.
Certain animals (herbivores) derive energy from the plants by eating them.
Some eat only small portions of a plant while others may devour the entire
plant. Squirrels, for instance, eat acorns and nuts, while deer will eat
grasses, shrubs, and even small trees. Energy may be passed further along
the food chain by meat-eating animals (carnivores) preying on herbivores
or other carnivores. The same species of plant or animal may be part of
several different food chains and these serve to link the chains together
into what is known as a food web (Figure 3).
Of course the various organisms in
a forest interact with one another in other ways, but the food chain-food
web example should serve to illustrate the complex and interlocking relationships
between various segments of the community. If one part of the system is
changed through natural or man-made influences, many other parts will be
Enemies of the Forest
Trees, like other crops, have enemies.
Chief among them are fire, disease, insects, severe weather, man and other
Fire is usually thought of as the number-one
enemy of the forest. It has the potential to strike quickly and its destructive
power cannot be exaggerated. Much effort has been expended to educate the
public about the dangers and need for prevention of forest fires. Today
these efforts are paying off. Wildfires may never be eliminated, but they
now cause only a fraction of the damage they once did. Nevertheless, fire
damage should not be underestimated. While pine forests may be completely
destroyed so that the damage is obvious to everyone, fire injury in hardwood
forests may be more difficult to detect. Some smaller hardwood trees are
usually killed but the most common damage to the larger trees is a fire
scar at the base of each tree trunk. Although these scars do not appear
to be serious, they provide easy entrance for other damaging elements such
as insects and disease. The full impact of such damage becomes apparent
only when the trees are felled and cut up. Cull trees, hollow logs, and
rotten wood are normal products of fire injury in hardwood forests.
Insects are not wholly harmful or helpful
to the trees. Certain insect species are essential to the seed production
of those trees that require pollen to be carried from flower to flower,
though the pollens of most trees are spread by the wind and require no
insect assistance. Other beneficial insects help by destroying harmful
On the other hand, there are many harmful
species of insects which spread disease, eat foliage, and destroy other
parts of a tree or seedling. Many of these insects, such as the eastern
tent caterpillar and the elm leaf beetle, are very noticeable due to their
defoliation of entire trees. Less visible damages to other parts of trees
by insects such as bark beetles, aphids, and scale-insects are overlooked
by many people, but these may have serious consequences also.
Diseases in trees may be caused by
fungi, bacteria, viruses, or even nonliving agents such as air pollution.
In Kentucky's forests most important diseases are caused by fungi. Many
different diseases may be present in a forest community, but all types
of trees will not be subject to all of them.
For example, white pines are susceptible
to a disease called white pine blister rust. Although this is a serious
disease in white pine, other native pines and hardwoods are not infected.
Dutch elm disease, oak wilt, and anthracnose are a few of the important
diseases in Kentucky's hardwood forests. Perhaps the most destructive disease
to hit our forests was chestnut blight. This disease was accidently introduced
into this country around 1904 and, in the 70 years since, it has virtually
eliminated the American chestnut.
Although diseases do considerable damage
in our forests, fungi are not always harmful. Certain wood decay fungi
can be very destructive in living trees or wooden structures; however,
this same decay process is highly beneficial when it breaks down organic
matter (wood, leaves, etc.) for the soil.
A careless or thoughtless person with
a match, an axe, or even a small knife may be one of the worst enemies
in the forest. MAN starts most wildfires in the forest. MAN often cuts
and slashes the forest vegetation without knowing or caring about the damage
he is doing; and MAN cuts the good trees and leaves the poor ones to occupy
the land and produce seed which will grow into trees as poor as their parents.
Fortunately, many citizens are developing a concern for the forests. They
are learning that good forests do not "just happen", but that trees must
be grown, cultured, and harvested like other crops.
Wildlife and a few head of domestic
livestock may do only slight damage to a forest; but when large numbers
of livestock are confined to a relatively small area, they become one of
the more destructive forest enemies, particularly to hardwood species.
Not only are large trees damaged and small trees destroyed, but the soil
is trampled so that the rain cannot soak into the packed surface. Instead,
the water rapidly runs off and carries away some of the fertile topsoil.
Now that we have briefly looked at
forests in general, let us examine some characteristics of Kentucky's forests.
Hardwood species dominate the forests
of Kentucky. Two forest types, oak-hickory and central mixed hardwoods,
account for almost three-fourths of the forest land. In eastern Kentucky,
these two types may make up as much as 90% of the forest cover. Upland
oak species (northern red, southern red, black, pin, scarlet, white, post,
and chestnut oaks) and hickories (shagbark, shellbark, pignut, and red)
comprise at least 50% of the stands classified as oak-hickory type. Central
mixed hardwood stands contain species such as yellow-poplar, maples, beech,
basswood, black walnut, elms, and northern red oak.
In central and western Kentucky, pines
and redcedar become more common components of the forest; however, hardwoods,
particularly the oaks and hickories, continue to dominate most stands.
In the extreme western portions of the state, bottomland hardwoods such
as elm, cottonwood, and sweetgum gain importance.
Each year, these forests grow over
693 million board feet of timber (a "board foot" is defined as a piece
of wood 12" x 12" x 1"). Although this amount exceeds the annual consumption
of Kentucky's primary forest industry by almost 116 million board feet,
certain types of timber are in short supply. U.S. Forest Service surveys
indicate a decline in high-quality sawlogs in many important timber species-the
oaks, yellow-poplar, beech, black walnut, and shortleaf pine. Nevertheless,
these surveys also indicate a sharp increase in volume of immature trees
with high-quality potential. With proper management of this immature timber,
the recent declines in large sawtimber can be reversed in the future. ln
addition, overall productivity could be increased dramatically (50% or
more) in many forest stands.
Forestry and Foresters
What do we mean by forestry? Who is
a forester and what does he do? How can he help me with my forest land?
Forestry is the art, science, and business
of managing forest land so that it will satisfy human needs and wants.
In many ways it is comparable to farming, since both are concerned with
growing plants and animals for man's benefit. Almost 46% of Kentucky land
is growing timber of some description. Much of this land is on farms; therefore,
most Kentucky farmers need to be forestry conscious.
Just as there is good and poor farming,
there is good and poor forestry. A good farmer improves his farm as he
works it; a poor farmer allows his farm to run down. It is the same with
forestry. Good forestry is aimed at improving the forest and it requires
effort and technical know-how. Although short-term yields from properly
managed forests may be somewhat less than when we "cut out and get out",
the long term effects will be an improvement in productivity which will
result in more lumber, pulpwood, and other products on a sustained basis.
A major difference between farming
and forestry is the landowner's knowledge of the subject. Whereas the farm
landowner is usually a farmer with training and/or experience in proper
farming practices, few forest landowners have a comparable background in
If landowners are interested in good
forestry, most require outside assistance from a professional forester.
Although foresters are normally employed as full-time resource managers
by the federal government, state agencies, wood-using industries, and other
organizations with extensive forest land acreages, few private landowners
have sufficient holdings to justify such an expenditure. As a result, many
government and industrial foresters are available to assist the private
landowner. In addition, some foresters are self-employed as consultants
and they may be retained for specific services much as attorneys and other
professionals are retained.
With the exception of a few individuals
with extensive practical experience, a minimum of 4 years' study in an
established forestry program at a college or university is necessary to
become a professional forester. Virtually all professional foresters have
earned a Bachelor of Science degree and many have Masters and Ph.D. degrees
in specialized fields of forest science.
Foresters deal with both the scientific
and the business aspects of forest resource management. Some work in the
general practices of forest establishment, culture, and harvesting. Others
are occupied with timber cruising, forest protection, research, and education.
Still others may be involved in related fields of forest utilization and
marketing, wildlife management, and outdoor recreation.
In this broad and complex field of
resource management, the professional forester cannot function alone. He
needs many skilled and semi-skilled workers to assist him. An increasing
number of forest technicians are being trained to meet the needs of public
and industrial forest management. Two year college programs in forest technology
are being offered in many states, including Kentucky. The curriculum, which
leads to an Associate degree, stresses practical application of forestry
Managing a Forest
Regardless of special skills and interests,
the basic function of a forester is to manage the various resources in
a forest community in such a way that they are put to good use. He may
find it profitable to allow part or all of his trees to grow for a relatively
short time and then sell them for Christmas trees or pulpwood. He may let
them grow larger and sell them for sawlogs or veneer logs. He may even
decide that they are worth more to remain standing for shade or recreation
or to protect the soil from erosion. But whatever their utility, the good
forest manager tries always to grow the best trees his land will produce.
He protects them from fire, insects, disease, and other damaging factors.
He cultures them for removal of undesirable vegetation and crowded trees.
When it comes time to harvest the crop, he is prepared to take the necessary
steps to insure that a new stand of trees will be established after the
old one is cut.
A Management Example:
What are good forest management practices?
The best practices on one forest area may differ from those for another
area due to variations in soils and vegetation, but we can trace a typical
sequence of forestry activities that might be carried out on a tract of
land in Kentucky.
Certain steps in this sequence may
require a trained evaluation which the landowner cannot make alone. He
should seek professional assistance from the Kentucky Division of Forestry,
the Cooperative Extension Service, or industrial foresters whenever this
Since land seldom remains barren of
vegetation in Kentucky we will start with an area which is grown up in
a mixture of vegetation: small trees, shrubs, grasses, and vines. Our first
task is to determine the potential of the present vegetation to produce
a desirable forest stand. If we find that a sufficient number of desirable
trees (400 or more per acre) are already growing on the area, we may wish
to assist the development of a forest stand from these trees. Removal of
competing vegetation, fertilization, and protection from damaging factors
such as fire and livestock may be necessary to provide the young trees
with adequate moisture, nutrients, space-to-grow, and sunlight.
On the other hand, there may not be
a sufficient number of desirable trees. If this is the case, it will be
necessary to prepare the area for reforestation. The basic purpose of this
preparation. is to create proper conditions for tree establishment and
growth. A number of methods may be used to remove unwanted vegetation-mechanical
methods (chopping, bushhogging, bulldozing, tree-girdling), application
of herbicides, and controlled burning. The bast method(s) of site preparation
depends largely upon topography, present vegetation, and landowner capabilities.
If a chemical or fire is to be used, the landowner should insure that he
is in compliance with state and federal regulations.
For our example, we will assume that
there are not enough desirable trees to develop into a forest stand and
undesirable vegetation can be removed by mowing it down with a bushhog.
Thus, the next set of decisions will concern the species and method of
reforestation. No single area is suitable for growing all tree species
and no single species is suitable for all areas. Species and planting site
must be matched carefully in order to insure satisfactory survival and
Species selection will influence the
choice of reforestation method. The three major methods for reforestation
are: (1) natural seeding; (2) seeding with collected seed; (3) planting
with seedlings or "cuttings". Each method has certain advantages and disadvantages,
but all need proper weather and soil conditions in order to be effective.
Natural seeding is potentially the
cheapest and easiest method under certain conditions, although it can be
very unsatisfactory if proper conditions are not present. An adequate seed
supply from trees of desirable species must be located on or adjacent to
the area to be reforested. At present this is the most common way to regenerate
most hardwood species after logging.
If we collect the seed and distribute
them over the area to be reforested, we eliminate our dependence upon a
natural seed supply. Nevertheless, this method is more expensive than natural
seeding, and it often fails to produce a satisfactory stand of desirable
trees due to inadequate seed, poor weather conditions, or other factors.
Although it is usually more expensive
to perform, planting is the most reliable and accepted method of reforestation
of most pine and some hardwood species. Seedlings (1-3 years old) or, in
a few instances, cuttings (short sections of a tree branch or stem), are
planted in sufficient numbers to produce a well-stocked stand of trees.
Most forest plantings range between 700 to 900 trees per acre (spacing
of individual trees- 7' x 7' to 8' x 8'); however, special plantings may
require a significantly larger or smaller number. For example, Christmas
trees are usually planted on a 6' x 6' spacing (1210 trees per acre), A
brief guide for seedling care and planting is provided in the Appendix
of this publication.
Many people think that, after the trees
are established, nothing else is required until the trees are to be cut.
Although forest stands may require less attention than our vegetable gardens,
both areas need to be cultured for best production.
The most common timber stand improvement
practices are weeding, thinning, and sanitation cuttings. Weeding is the
removal of undesirable species of trees and other vegetation in order to
favor desirable species. Thinning is similar to weeding (the two are often
combined) except that some trees of desirable species are also removed
to provide adequate growing space for the remaining trees. Sanitation cuttings
are commonly used to remove diseased, insect infested, or damaged trees
from the stand.
Virtually every forest stand will require
one or more of these cultural measures during the period between establishment
and maturity. If we do not carry out the needed operation, natural competition
within the stand will eventually eliminate some of the weaker and slower
growing trees. Unfortunately, if we leave the thinning to nature, tree
growth is reduced and the results are haphazard.
In our example we will probably need
at least two improvement operations. The first will be a combination thinning
weeding when the trees are 8-12 years old. The second will be a thinning
at age 25-30 such as that shown in Figure 4.
Harvesting the Forest
Since trees are living things, they
age as they grow and eventually they become mature. When trees reach maturity,
the owner must make a choice between harvesting them or letting them stand.
If a tree is allowed to remain standing after maturity, it will usually
decline in vigor and eventually die of natural causes. Over-mature trees
are more susceptible to damage by insects, disease, wind, and other damaging
elements. Nevertheless, there are instances when the trees on an area should
not be cut. This is especially appropriate in areas having high erosion
risk and in natural areas set aside for scientific study or scenic value.
On the other hand, wood is a valuable
material which should not be unduly wasted. Proper tree harvesting involves
more than cutting mature trees. Consideration must be given to the future
welfare of the harvested area, the regeneration of a new forest land, effects
on wildlife, soil, water, and other factors.
There are many different harvesting
systems that can be properly applied in Kentucky, and several of these
are pictured in Figure 5. Single-tree selection removes only individual
trees from the forest as they attain maturity. A modification of this system
is group selection, which removes scattered patches of two or more trees
each. Both of these systems are used in "all-age" forest management. Stands
managed in this manner contain trees with widely varying ages from seedlings
to mature trees.
A shelterwood cutting usually involves
a higher cutting intensity than the selection methods. One-fourth to one-half
of the trees are harvested at one time. The remaining trees serve as a
seed source and shelter for the young seedlings that will form the next
forest stand on the area. After a new stand is established, the remaining
older trees are removed.
The most dramatic harvesting method
is clearcutting. As its name implies, all trees are harvested from the
area at one time. Although its use has been severely criticized, and in
certain cases this criticism was justified, this method has several proper
applications. Regeneration of tree species which cannot tolerate shading
is a primary reason for clearcutting an area. Elimination of undesirable
seed sources for a replanting of the area with better species and/or genetically
improved seedlings would be another sound reason.
None of the systems mentioned above
is universally correct under all situations. Each has advantages and disadvantages
which must be evaluated in conjunction with individual stand conditions.
Unfortunately, many of our forest areas are still being harvested without
using any well defined system of management. Too often, it is simply a
matter of "cut the best and leave the rest", an approach commonly called
"high-grading." Although there may be a short-term advantage to timber
cutters operating in this manner, proper harvesting will be to the long-term
advantage of both the landowner and the forest industry. Whenever possible,
the forest landowner should seek professional assistance in the correct
prescription of a harvesting system for his area.
Forestry Programs in Kentucky
Forest-related industries are big business
in Kentucky. There are industries in 97 of the 120 counties which use wood
in some form. At least 18,000 Kentuckians work in these industries with
a total payroll in excess of 83 million dollars. Several thousand additional
jobs and many millions of payroll dollars are also generated in other industries
through the transportation and sales of wood products. Landowners receive
almost 40 million dollars per year from the sale of standing timber.
Although private forest ownerships
are the major source of timber for industry, several companies own large
tracts of forest land in Kentucky. Some employ professional foresters to
manage company holdings.
Kentucky's forest industries produce
a multitude of products. In addition to the millions of board feet of lumber,
large quantities of wood are used to manufacture paper, veneer, poles,
posts, mine timbers, cooperage (barrel staves and tops), charcoal, handles,
and many other products. As a cash crop, Kentucky timber ranks second only
to tobacco in market value. Its value to the economy of Kentucky is counted
in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Neither can we forget the value of
forest related activities such as recreation and tourism. Over 14 million
out-of-state visitors spent more than 350 million dollars in Kentucky for
recreation and vacation expenses in 1973. Imagine how many would have gone
elsewhere if our scenic forests were destroyed.
Public Forestry Programs
The Kentucky Division of Forestry was
established in 1912. It currently employs over 250 full-time personnel,
including more than 60 professional foresters. It has 9 district offices
distributed throughout the state. In addition to its responsibility for
the prevention and suppression of forest fires, it manages 7 state forests
with a combined acreage of 46,000 acres, operates 3 forest tree nurseries
which grow seedlings for reforestation and strip mine reclamation, and
shares with consulting and industrial foresters the responsibility for
technical forestry assistance to private forest owners.
Other major public forest holdings
are managed by the U.S. Forest Service (Daniel Boone National Forest-630,000
acres), Tennessee Valley Authority (Land Between the Lakes-145,000 acres),
the U.S. Army, the National Park Service, and other Federal and state agencies.
The Department of Forestry is an academic
department within the College of Agriculture at the University of Kentucky.
A four and one half year forestry curriculum was established in 1969. The
program was recently accredited by the Society of American Foresters and
the graduates are awarded a professional degree of Bachelor of Science
A two-year technician program is also
administered by the department in conjunction with the University of .Kentucky
Community College system. The curriculum is designed to train forest technicians
and wood technicians. Upon completion of the program, students are awarded
the Associate in Science degree.
In addition to undergraduate education,
the department conducts research and extension activities in forestry,
wood science, wildlife management, and outdoor recreation. These activities
are designed to cope with the major problem areas of forest resource development
Forestry in Kentucky's Future
This publication has been intended
to provide a brief description of forests and forestry in Kentucky and
how they relate to the ecology and the economy of the state. It has also
been aimed at describing some of the methods for establishing, culturing
and harvesting forests. Unfortunately, most of these methods are seldom
used. The major portion of Kentucky's woodland continues to suffer from
neglect and poor management.
What is the future outlook? There appears
to be little doubt that forests will continue to exist and grow. But what
will these future forests be like? Will they be neglected stands of low
quality, slow growing trees, or will they be managed stands of healthy,
vigorous trees? The choice will be made collectively and individually by
the thousands of forest landowners throughout the state. Their action,
or lack of action, will determine the forest legacy that is passed on to
future generations of Kentucky's citizens.
TREE PLANTING TIPS
I. Before Planting
a. Proper Planning
obtain assistance in matching planting sites and species, spacing,
and site preparation. Order trees early.
b. Proper Storage
Always plant trees as soon as possible after you receive them. If they
must be stored: KEEP ROOTS MOIST!
a. Choose the Proper Method
1. Planting Machines - For planting on relatively large and open areas
that are not too steep. These machines require a medium to large farm tractor
to pull them, but they can plant 8-10 thousand trees per day. Check with
local forestry officials, SCS, or County Extension office to determine
if a machine is available for rental in your area.
2. Slit planting - a rapid method of hand planting using a special
tool called a "planting bar". Better for light soils with relatively few
3. Planting hoe- Similar to slit planting except a tool called a "planting
hoe" is used.
4. Hole method - For trees with large root systems or in heavy soils,
holes dug with an ordinary shovel or even a posthole digger may be best.
Although this is a very slow method, it is necessary for some tree species,
b. Protect trees during planting
Keep roots moist at all times. Cover them with mud, wet moss, peat
moss, leaves etc.
c. Root prune when necessary
reduce excessive root length with a sharp knife.
d. Proper procedures - general
1. Make a hole deep enough for roots to assume their natural position.
2. Plant at the proper depth - tree should be in the ground at the
same level or slightly deeper than it was growing in the nursery.
3. Insure that soil (not debris such as grass. leaves, twigs, etc.)
is packed firmly around roots so that there are no air spaces adjoining
e. Proper procedures-specific
1. Bar method
2. Planting Hoe
3. Hole Method