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Grow a tree - how hard can it be?

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Grow a tree - how hard can it be?

Postby daiv » Sat Jun 09, 2012 4:44 pm

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.
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Re: Grow a tree - how hard can it be?

Postby majcka » Sat Jun 09, 2012 5:02 pm

daiv wrote: The biggest factor is the heat and lack of rain.

You have too much heat and too little rain so trees are dieing. And I shiver if the sea and the weather will get any warmer than it is because I'm taking my kids to holidays. Will the sea be warm enough to put gremlins in or not?
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Re: Grow a tree - how hard can it be?

Postby daiv » Sat Jun 09, 2012 5:34 pm

Just to be sure - the heat and lack of rain here aren't really that out of normal, but when you plant trees, you need a cooler/wetter year than "normal" for best results. So in a way, we are actually hoping for weather that is not "normal".
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Re: Grow a tree - how hard can it be?

Postby majcka » Sat Jun 09, 2012 5:50 pm

daiv wrote:Just to be sure - the heat and lack of rain here aren't really that out of normal, but when you plant trees, you need a cooler/wetter year than "normal" for best results. So in a way, we are actually hoping for weather that is not "normal".


We have such weather. Not normal at all. In two weeks summer should start. Bot there is no sign of it. March was almost as warm as it is now. Rain is all around us

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Re: Grow a tree - how hard can it be?

Postby Peterthecactusguy » Sat Jun 09, 2012 9:57 pm

hmm when I do watch the news, which isn't often ti seems like MN had 2" of rain one day and 1.65" the next..

Think of all of your complications and apply them to the desert!

WE have lots of issues here, some are the same some are different. (here mostly has to do with watering)
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Re: Grow a tree - how hard can it be?

Postby daiv » Sun Jun 10, 2012 12:06 am

Peter,
MN has had rain, but not the 82 acres that these trees are planted on. Just south of us about 20 miles yesterday got over an inch, but where the trees are, not a drop. If we had not planted them, I wouldn't even notice, but now I am hypersensitive to the weather.

I would not plant any Swamp White Oak in the desert.
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Re: Grow a tree - how hard can it be?

Postby Harriet » Sun Jun 10, 2012 12:57 am

I'd gladly send rain your way if I could. I think it has rained every day for the past week at my house, and it is forecast to continue doing so for at least the next week. We have had somewhere between two and a half and three inches in the last week. It wouldn't be so bad, except the constant cloud cover is making the days so darn gloomy, which is not the norm for Florida rainy season. This time of year we usually have sunny days broken up by afternoon thunderstorms that roll in and out fairly quickly.

At least the cloud cover is keeping the temperature down...
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Re: Grow a tree - how hard can it be?

Postby Peterthecactusguy » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:12 pm

Daiv, of course, it hasn't rained here in a while so I notice where it is raining. Our monsoon will start soon tho, and pretty soon hit and miss storms will pop up.

Harriet, in some places in Florida it seems like it rains every day..
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Re: Grow a tree - how hard can it be?

Postby daiv » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:30 pm

We just had one of those hit and miss storms go over. Didn't last long, but at least it got the surface wet. That will cool things off and slow the lost of underground moisture.
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Re: Grow a tree - how hard can it be?

Postby Harriet » Mon Jun 11, 2012 2:36 am

Yikes, another inch in the last couple of hours!
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Re: Grow a tree - how hard can it be?

Postby Peterthecactusguy » Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:30 am

I saw an article about flooding in Florida... yikes, you could send some rain up to Daiv ;)
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Re: Grow a tree - how hard can it be?

Postby SnowFella » Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:17 am

If Florida doesn't have enough to give you can have some of mine, rained near 30 hours straight now!
Just send some heat in return though, had a first touch of frost over the weekend and it's not even mid winter yet :(
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Re: Grow a tree - how hard can it be?

Postby daiv » Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:55 pm

Interesting thing here is that last spring and summer had a ton of moisture, but in the fall it completely turned off and the fall ended up being very very dry. Many well-established conifers died last winter and we think it must be from the dryness because it wasn't that cold. I don't think we even hit -20F last winter whereas the year before we had that for a week straight.
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Re: Grow a tree - how hard can it be?

Postby Tony » Mon Jun 11, 2012 6:36 pm

Would be nice to get a good bit of rain, but Im not counting on much any time soon.
Know anyone with a water truck Daiv?
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Re: Grow a tree - how hard can it be?

Postby Peterthecactusguy » Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:12 am

I saw a water tank truck for $2500 the other day. I dont think that the engine ran or the pump tho..
seems kinda cheap if you ask me.

Daiv, those types of storms are common in AZ. Sometimes it rains hard but sometimes it just teases us. IT's been very dry here for the past few months.
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