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Southern Conifers


When there are no storage facilities at the planting site, take only as many seedlings as can be planted in a day. If time and logistics permit, arrange to have seedlings delivered twice a day. Load and transport packages carefully to avoid damaging the seedlings.

Seedling quality deteriorates quickly with careless field storage and handling. Always provide a shaded storage area. A tarp can be erected to shade the seedlings. Reflective tarps are very effective. Be sure to provide enough ventilation to prevent heat from building up in the packages. Do not lay a tarp directly over the seedlings during the day. Be sure to leave plenty of air space between the tarp and the seedling packages and also between individual packages. Temperatures inside seedling packages can exceed 50 degrees Fahrenheit quickly on sunny days, even when air temperatures are moderate. Temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit will reduce the quality of the seedlings.

Ideally, seedlings that are not planted should be returned to cold storage. If this cannot be done, cover seedlings with a tarp at sunset to protect them from freezing. Repair any tears or holes to the packages with duct tape. Repackage the seedlings as necessary.

Check seedlings carefully. Look for:

  • Fermentation smell
  • Black color and/or mold on roots
  • Bark “slips” on stems or roots
  • Yellow needles
  • Seedlings that are warm to the touch

Seedlings in containers can be stored for extended periods because their roots are protected, but the seedlings must be protected from freezing and drying out. Because the containers have so little soil, the seedlings are susceptible to desiccation in sunny and windy conditions. Store seedlings in containers in partial to full shade and water them frequently so they have enough moisture throughout storage and planting.

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