Appletons Tree Nursery Ltd, 1748 Main Road South, Wakefield, Nelson, Phone 03 541 8309, Fax 03 541 8007
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Conditioning Forestry Seedlings in Autumn

Douglas fir stop growing and set a terminal bud when day lengths shorten in the autumn. Pinus radiata is a tree species that will grow whenever the temperatures are sufficiently warm enough.

The challenge for the nurseryman is to have seedlings with good root collar diameter, as well as a high foliar nutrient status, with good root development. These are our methods to achieve a well-conditioned seedling:

We grow the tree seedlings vigorously, using topping as a means for height control which allows us to meet these specifications.  
Apically dominant radiata seedlings re-establish a dominant leader and topping aids the establishment of good root development rather than excessive early height growth.  
Undercutting is done using a serrated steel blade which cuts the tap root and encourages lateral and fibrous roots to develop.  
Wrenching is the process of passing a cutting blade under the seedbed to aerate and disturb the seedlings, further encouraging root development.  
A period of frosts is necessary to truly stop radiata seedling growth and is the final stage of seedling conditioning prior to planting.  
Keeping seedlings cool while being transported and stored prior to planting, is equally as important.