In this thread: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=25606
I talked about the tree-planting project that I headed up this year. We planted some 14,000 tree seedlings over 80 acres.
It may seem like all one must do is put the tree in the ground and eventually the seedling will become a tree. However, there are many threats that each seedling must overcome to make it to maturity - especially within the first year. Here is a list of some of these:
1. Roots drying out before planting. - It is important to have the roots damp before planting, but not wet. If the roots dry out for even a very short time, the tree could be as good as dead before making it in the ground.
2. Moisture in the ground - you can't plant a bare root seedling in dry ground or it will quickly die
3. Sod - planting trees in the grass places them in immediate fierce competition. Established grass can quickly suck all the available moisture away from the seedling.
4. Tall grass and weeds, shade isn't so much the problem in tall grass, but in the fall when the tall grass falls over the top of a seedling, it can bend it over and prevent it from growing up out of the grass
5. Pocket gophers - these underground critters love eating tree roots. If planted with a machine, this creates a line in the soil that is easy to dig in that leads to one tree after the other
6. Mice/voles - Mice and voles eat the bark off of trees. if they ring the tree it is dead, if they just chew one side - it is weakened
7. Deer/rabbits - these both can eat all the new growth off of a tree - deer can do this on even taller trees. Furthermore deer like to rub their antlers on young trees and this can easily kill them
8. Caterpillars/insects - seedlings especially can die from having their small number of leaves completely eaten by such pests
9. Weather - especially in the first summer - the rain MUST come. If it is a drier year than normal, this will kill more trees than anything.
So far, I estimate that at least 3,000 of the seedlings we planted have already died within the first month. While a certain amount of loss is expected, this is more than it should be so far. The biggest factor is the heat and lack of rain. Not full-on drought, but last year would have been much better so far. How many will survive? Only time will tell.