Plan Now for Spring Conservation Tree Planting

The Lower Loup Natural Resources District will begin accepting orders for conservation trees on November 1st.  However, officials urge you to begin planning for those trees right now.

Conservation tree planting

Richard Woollen, North Central District Forester for the Nebraska Forest Service, says the most successful tree plantings begin with early planning, especially when trees are to be planted on sod or alfalfa sites. The forester says that by visiting your local NRCS office this fall, you can formulate a plan that will provide the best opportunity for good seedling establishment.

Woollen says aggressive sod-forming grasses, like smooth bromegrass and reed canary grass, or alfalfa compete rigorously with tree seedlings for available moisture. Survival and growth of tree seedlings may be severely reduced when proper site preparation is not accomplished well in advance of planting time.

Where present, these grasses or alfalfa should be eliminated from the entire tree planting site unless fabric mulch (a woven black plastic placed near and around the tree seedlings) is being utilized or the sod is killed back from the tree row at least twice a year until the trees are old enough to shade out the grass.

Woollen says that this can be accomplished by spraying the site with the appropriate labeled herbicide for chemical control and/or tilling to kill the vegetation. Seeding a cover crop may be required to control erosion and can also provide wildlife benefits. Tree seedlings may be planted in the cover crop residue the following spring. If necessary, summer fallow the planting site one year or longer to kill the sod.

For controlling competing vegetation in existing tree plantings, the Lower Loup NRD offers a fall tree spraying program. A pre-emergent herbicide applied in the fall after seedlings are dormant will help to reduce the effects of unwanted vegetation during the following growing season.

Contact your local NRCS office or the Lower Loup NRD, 308-728-3221, for information on putting Conservation Trees to work on your land. A technician will assist you in planning your next tree planting project.