4 Things to Consider When Deciding What to ReplantJan 18, 2021
1. What type of land do you own AND what pine is compatible?
- Loblolly: clay-like soils or wetter-type soils.
- Longleaf: sandier-loam like soils, well-drained/very dry uplands
- Slash: what I consider a "transition" pine for sites between loblolly and longleaf pine type soils. It can do well on dry uplands to wetter soils.
2. What markets are near you?
- Loblolly: the fastest growing pine species, and often the cheapest seedling for decent genetic options, it is the ideal species for pulp markets, but suitable for sawtimber and poles (when managed well). Loblolly is known as "king" in the Southeast because it is the most commonly replanted, especially by industry and in the Piedmont regions, because of its fast growth to reach a variety of product sizes. There are no pine straw revenue options though.
- Longleaf: highly desired for strong pine straw, it can be a a good pulpwood market tree IF pinestraw is included in the management. It is often favored for poles due to it's longer growth (aka tighter ring structure) and naturally straight form (when managed well).
- Slash: again this acts as a transitional species between loblolly and longleaf. It has faster growth than longleaf while still providing some pine straw revenue opportunities. It does have a niche market opportunity for turpentine, if those markets are available.
3. How active do you want to be in land management?
- Loblolly and Slash: once site prep and planting is completed, there is typically minimum requirements to get these seedlings to thrive. I usually refer to them as a plant and leave to grow type tree. They're great options for the more passive landowner, or one that simply cannot commit to many management practices in their present circumstance (health, distance, family, career, etc). Don't get me wrong IF you want to be more engaged, there are definitely plenty of enhancements that can be done, especially to benefit wildlife... but all-in-all, this is a great "plant and leave" type tree with minimum maintenance required until it's time to thin.
- Longleaf: this is more recommended for the active landowner primarily because of the prescribe burning it needs to really thrive to its potential. On average, you're looking to make sure you complete a prescribed burn every 2 to 3 years. This may not at first glance seem like a "big deal" to you, but depending on your acreage... and if you are trying to diversify your tract and burning different "quadrants", you could be looking at a burn YOU are trying to implement every year, just for different sections of your property... and that is when things can get overwhelming and easily behind schedule due to: your personal schedule, weather and natural disasters, and resource availability (especially if you do not feel comfortable and confident to burn the stand yourself... which is not recommended unless you've had some educational training in how to properly execute a burn). Will the longleaf pines be okay without burning... sure, probably... but as a fire-dependent tree species, it won't reach it's potential without it.
4. What is your budget for reforestation?
- Loblolly and Slash: site prep requirements are typically the same and will vary depending on your "starting point" that you prepare the land. They don't require a super clean site either, which can help you with your upfront costs. Seedling prices are also about the same (similar), but loblolly seedlings will generally have better genetic options simply due to their long and extensive research over the last 50+ years. Financial assistance and cost share programs are more limited usually for these species, however they are out there and available if you ask.
- Longleaf: site prep should be done appropriately and as "clean" as possible to provide the best planting opportunity as possible. Longleaf, although a hardly tree once established, can be a finicky seedling that is easily overshadowed by competing vegetation, chocked out by grasses and root systems, and unintentionally "buried" due to the bud being at the bottom (towards the roots/plug) rather than the top of the tree (stereotypically seen with loblolly, slash and other pine seedlings). Therefore you want to be sure your planters have easy ground to plant in (not a lot of debris to walk through that would increase air pockets during planting and increase chances to be overshadowed by other vegetation). Longleaf seedlings are typically more expensive as well. Depending on who you ask, you may get a different answer, but I always recommend to plant plugs over bareroot longleaf seedlings. In my opinion, you're already spending more money... you might as well be sure to increase your odds for a successful planting (plugs are more likely to have a higher survival rate over bareroot). Additionally, to stimulate your longleaf seedlings to grow you are looking to do a prescribed burn ~2 years after planting. Although longleaf is generally your more expensive pine to plant/reforest with... there are typically more financial assistance programs available to help with reforestation costs to get it established.
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