Extending the Planting Period of Dormant and Growing Norway Spruce Container Seedlings to Early Summer

Abstract

In order to make mechanized planting economically viable, the present spring planting period for Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) seedlings in Scandinavia needs to be extended. To evaluate the possibilities to extend the planting period, six field experiments were established in four years during which frozen-stored, dormant seedlings and actively growing seedlings targeted for spring planting were planted regularly from mid-May to mid-July or the end of August. The survival of actively growing seedlings did not differ between planting dates from mid-May to mid-July. For dormant seedlings, however, the later in summer they were planted the lower was the survival. Oversized seedlings grown in the nursery in containers of too small volume, which were usually planted after mid-June, resulted in reduced growth of seedlings after planting. Root egress (growth of roots from root plugs into the surrounding soil) was most rapid in July and early August and slowest in May and September. Results showed that with dormant seedlings the planting period can be extended from May to mid-June without increasing mortality or reducing growth. The planting period for seedlings stored outdoors and those seedlings that were already growing in June for the purpose of spring plantings can be extended even longer, but it must be kept in mind that the risk of mechanical damage and reduced growth increase due to brittleness of the shoot and increased height. Further research is needed to evaluate the risks in practical scale plantings and with seedlings that are specially targeted for planting after mid-June.

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