While we are awaiting the color change and dropping of leaves in October, it is also a good time to think about planting trees next spring. Indiana landowners have access to low-cost and high-quality seedlings through the state forest nurseries operated by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry. The state nurseries began taking orders for seedlings available for planting next spring on October 1, and orders will be accepted until next spring or when all stock is sold. Ordering early is encouraged as demand for seedlings can be high. Seedlings of many different deciduous and evergreen tree and shrub species useful for forest and wildlife management, windbreak establishment, and erosion control are available for purchase. Seedlings are mostly one to three years old and are sold as bare-root stock packaged in moist sphagnum moss and wrapped into bales using special packaging paper. Landowners can order indivdual tree species in multiples of 100 or several multi-species packages aimed at different purposes like wildlife habitat or native tree nut production. The state nursery seedlings are sold for conservation planting purposes and are not to be resold or used for Christmas tree or landscape plantings. Private nurseries in Indiana and neighboring states can supply seedlings for these purposes. You can access the state nursery tree sales at http://www.in.gov/dnr/forestry/3620.htm.
Planting site research and preparation this fall to prepare for planting next spring will increase your chances for a successfull planting. Learn what soils are present on your planting site by using the online tool the Web Soil Survey. This soil mapping and information tool helps you discover what soils are located on your land, prepare soil maps, and explore the capacity of your soils for growing trees, shrubs, and crops as well as their suitability for a variety of activities including ponds and construction. The Web Soil Survey is provided by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and can be found at http://websoilsurvey.sc.egov.usda.gov.
Controling competing grasses, weeds, and brush where you plan to plant seedlings can increase survival and growth. Perennial plants can be controled in the summer or fall to prepare the site for spring planting. Heribicides, tillage, or other mechanical or cultural treatments can be used to control these competing plants and give your planted seedlings the best chance for success. Deer can also pose a danger to your seedlings by their browsing and antler-rubing. Fencing, shelters, or repellants may be needed to protect the seedlings until they are large enough to resist browsing or antler damage.
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources/Extension and the Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center offers several publications that can help you with your tree planting plans.
Lenny Farlee, Extension Forester, Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center
Forestry & Natural Resources, Purdue University