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Field Storage

When seedlings need to be stored in the field, storage should be as brief as possible. Keep the seedlings close to 34 degrees Fahrenheit. Seedlings can be stored in portable coolers to keep them from getting too warm or too cold.

Maintaining high humidity is not a concern, provided that the boxes are closed and sealed. Check boxes for damage and repair them as needed. Air space is required between boxes to allow heat to be released from the individual packages. Air space between boxes is critical, especially for pines.

Portable Coolers

Portable coolers can be used for short-term storage in the field. These coolers, often mounted on a pickup (camper) or trailer, may or may not have refrigeration units.

Insulated Campers

Insulated camper shells are popular for storing seedlings during each day’s planting as well as for short-term storage. The campers usually don’t have a refrigeration unit, so they are better suited for storing seedlings when the outside temperatures are cool. When storing the tree boxes inside the camper, use spacers to leave air gaps between the boxes. Also, the campers should be parked in as much cover as possible out of direct sunlight to keep the camper from getting hot during the day. Move the camper during the day to keep it in the shade, if necessary.

Refrigerated Coolers

Small refrigerated coolers may be used for short-term storage of seedlings. Even though seedlings can be stored longer in refrigerated coolers than in insulated campers, storage should be kept to a minimum. Temperatures should be kept as close to 34 degrees Fahrenheit as possible. Relative humidity should not be a concern if the seedlings are packaged correctly in the boxes. Leave air space between the boxes to prevent heat from building up.


If coolers are not available for short-term storage, shelters or tents can be used if outside temperatures are not predicted to fluctuate. Shelters should be used only as a last resort to protect seedlings from high or low temperatures and to keep seedlings out of the elements (such as wind, rain, or direct sunlight). Shelters should be located under tree cover as much as possible. Small shelters may be as simple as a reflective blanket placed over tree boxes. Large tents can be used as well.

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