Kansas Forest Service Offers Conservation Seedlings

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The Kansas Forest Service (KFS) spring conservation tree seedling sales are underway and will continue until May 7. This is the 56th season that KFS has offered more than 30 species of low-cost trees and shrubs for windbreaks, wood lots, riparian planting, wildlife planting, Christmas tree plantations, and other conservation tree planting.

The program no longer offers bare-root Austrian pine seedlings. A complete list of items offered is available online at https://www.kansasforests.org/public_saps/Welcome.aspx. Shipping and distribution starts mid-March, weather permitting.

Seedlings are stored in a large walk-in cooler, where temperatures are kept between 33 and 35 degrees Fahrenheit with high humidity levels. This keeps the seedlings fresh and dormant before shipment. Orders usually arrive one to two days after shipping to ensure the plants are fresh.

Once seedlings arrive, orders should be inspected to ensure the plants are the correct species, quantities, and in good condition. Proceed with planting as soon as possible. Proper planting includes keeping plant roots moist until they are put into the planting hole. Dig the planting hole deep enough to accommodate the roots in their natural form. Roots should be pruned to no shorter than 8 inches. After planting, water thoroughly.

Weed control is important for the first two to three years, depending on the planting site, because weeds compete for moisture and nutrients. They can be controlled with weed barrier fabric, mechanical methods, and herbicides.

Most soils have adequate nutrients to support seedlings. Fertilizing is usually not needed unless a soil test indicates a deficiency of nutrients.

Watering the seedlings helps the success of the planting. Watering depends on factors such as air temperature, wind velocity, and soil characteristics. Frequency of irrigation will depend on all these variables. Irrigate thoroughly, saturating the root zone, and then let the soil partially dry out. This promotes soil aeration and root growth.

Mulching the seedlings will help with success and survival of the seedlings by conserving moisture and reducing competition with weeds. Mulch should not come in direct contact with the stem because its increased moisture can encourage rot, house insects, disease, and other problems.

Establishing a successful conservation seedling planting takes planning, effort, and maintenance. With proper planting, weed control, and irrigation, one can enjoy the benefits of the trees for years to come.

For more information, phone 888-740-8733. Downloaded order forms should be mailed to Kansas Forest Service, 2610 Claflin Rd, Manhattan, KS, 66502. Orders are shipped via UPS but cannot be shipped to Post Office boxes.

More detailed information may be obtained at the KFS website, https://www.kansasforests.org, or by phoning the toll-free number above. (If the links in this text do not work, copy and paste the URLs into your browser.)