Highland Hill Farm Po. Box 517 Fountainville, PA 18923 215-345-0946

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We supply many types of seedlings. Pine trees, spruce trees, cypress, arborvitae, hardwood trees, evergreen shrubs, liners and rooted cuttings. What we supply is not important. What you can grow is. You must pick plants that will grow well in your area. The best simple test is to look in your general area and determine what grows well there 10 to 20 years after it sprouted or was transplanted. If the plant survived that long, the same type will probably work for you.

Selecting Seedlings

Your investment in planting costs, land acquisition and the lost growth potential are significant. Don't risk this investment by trying to save a few cents through the purchase of poor-quality seedlings. Selecting a suitable seed source ensures your plantings will have the long-term potential to survive and thrive. But, to ensure your trees survive the stress of the establishment years, you should select a suitable stock type and one of high quality. High-quality seedlings consistently outperform seedlings of lower quality in both survival rate and growth. It makes sense to invest in quality seedlings for your planting project it is simply a good investment!

Stock Types

Several different stock types are available. Again, the characteristics of the planting site will dictate the type of stock that you should select. Never make your selection because the seedlings are the cheapest. Buy seedlings based on the site. Characteristics that should be considered include the amount of competition from other vegetation (e.g., grasses, trees, shrubs, etc.), soil type, season of planting and sometimes the risk of browsing by wildlife. For example, where competition is expected to be a problem, larger stock will generally outperform smaller stock. When poor site conditions are encountered (e.g., shallow soils or rocky sites), container stock is easier to plant because of its smaller root plug and can be easier to establish. I like north slopes for planting.

Bare Root Stock

This is the most common seedling type available to landowners. Bare root seedlings are grown outdoors in nursery beds and shipped without soil on their roots. Once removed from the beds, they must be kept cool and moist to keep the roots alive. Typically bare root seedlings are two to three years old and their height can range from 15 cm to 60 cm, depending on the species and age. Dipping seedlings in a solution of water and hydroxy ethly cellulose has helped us keep roots wet.

Some nurseries also have transplant seedlings available. Bare root seedling stock is lifted from high-density seedbeds and then replanted in new beds at a lower density. This results in a seedling that will generally have a more fibrous root, larger stem diameter and a better shoot-to-root ratio. Transplant stock is generally a little more expensive to produce and may cost a little more to purchase, but this stock type is more robust and may be more suited to some planting sites. We hardly ever plant 3-6 inch seedlings directly into the field. We prefer transplants for lining out in the field.

The age of bare root seedlings is specified by a two-digit number. The first number gives the number of years grown in the seedbed and the second digit represents the number of years grown in a transplant bed. Adding these two numbers together will give you the age of the seedling. For example, 2-0 would indicate a two-year old seedling and 2-1 would indicate a three-year-old transplanted seedling.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Bare Root stock

-There is a greater availability both in the variety of species when using bare root stock; - Has a larger root system that provides greater rooting depth; - Less susceptibility to frost heaving; - Larger than container stock, it is better suited to planting sites with higher levels of competition; - Due to their larger size they are more difficult to plant vs. container stock and root placement is critical; - Once the seedlings are lifted from the nursery beds they are perishable they must be kept cool and moist until planting. If we can't transplant right away, we pot up the seedlings and grow them in pots for lining out later. ; and - Generally, bare root stock is less expensive than container stock. If shipments are made by common carrier, trucking costs for seedlings is low compared to potted stock.

Container Stock

Once used mostly by the forest industry, container stock is now available at some nurseries. There are many different types. Typically container stock is grown for eight to nine months in a controlled environment (greenhouse) and is overwintered outside before being shipped to the planting site the following spring. The seedling roots form a plug with a soil-less growing medium. Depending on the species and container size, they can typically range from 7cm to 15 cm in height and the root plug measures 3.5 cm in diameter by 10 cm in length. We usually have many types of container stock for sale that is ready to line out in a field immediatly. If you have any needs, please E-Mail Us

Advantages and Disadvantages of Container Stock

- Generally more expensive to purchase;

- Ease of planting (small root plug) generally results in better planting quality;
- Easier to plant in areas of shallow or very stony soils (small root plug);
- Extended planting season;
- Can be easily grown in different container sizes to meet the characteristics of the planting site;
- Limited species availability and not readily available at most nurseries;
- Generally requires good site preparation of the planting site and follow-up tending to reduce competition;
- Smaller size (top and root) makes it a poor match for planting sites with heavy competition.

Advantages for seedlings

When purchasing seedlings look for quality stock. Here are some characteristics you should be looking for:

- Healthy foliage - needles on conifers should be lush (darker green color) and not chlorotic (yellowish green); - Buds should be large and well developed, not shriveled or dried out; - -Roots systems should be fibrous;

- Good height-to-diameter ratio. This is the ratio of the shoot height to the stem diameter (height diameter). A seedling with a high ratio (i.e. >120) is less sturdy then a seedling with a lower ratio (i.e. <80); - Good stem diameter (or caliper). This is perhaps one of the best indicators of seedling quality. It is an attribute that has been linked to higher survival and increased growth. Larger caliper seedlings generally offer the following advantages better lateral branching and bud development, are more resistant to heat, have more roots and are resistant to bending by wind.

Ordering Information

We suggest that if you are just starting out that you go slow. Don't order 1000 trees and find out they are harder to plant than you expected. Start your first year with 50 to 100 trees of one type for the first planting. Have a second , third, forth order scheduled for one week intervals. This will allow you time to come up to speed in learning how best to plant for your site. If you feel confortable with ordering by the thousand do so. We have planting equiptment that you can use for free and then return. We have planters for trees up to 12' in height. You must leave us a deposit on the equiptment and it will be returned when you drop off the planters. All our planters require a tractor with a 3 pt hitch. Some can be loaded on a small pickup truck other need large trailers. If you wish to learn by doing, we will notify you when we are planting and let you help or observe. If you have any comments, please E-Mail Us

Free consulting

We offer free consulting on the phone for our customers. If you wish us to come to your site and give recomendations we will do so but charge for this service. We want you to know that the death rate for all of our trees is 100%. In nature tens of thousands of seedlings are created from a tree and on average only one survives long enough to reach maturity. No tree lives forever! How well the seedlings perform is really dependant on how well you take care of them. Don't expect to place 1000 seedlings in a field and come back in 10 years and sell Christmas trees without tending them.

Economics of Growing Christmas Trees and Nursery Stock

Growing any crop involves risk of capital and time. No one can give you back your time. You can always earn money just by putting your captial in the bank and waiting. When you put your money in plants, your returns can be terrific. Where else can you invest a dollar and in afew years get 20, 50, and more dollars back in return? Yet many people fail to determine whether they really can make these huge profits and if they are real. You should review your investment opportunities before you invest. There are other uses for the land that you should consider. Only then can you make an informed decision.

The nursery market does experience numerous peroids of over production. Durring these peroids discounting is a method of selling stock durring these times. On our farms, our land cost was almost nil so when we harvested a crop we culled out stock and left trees in the field to grow to larger calipers than we planned to harvest in order to sell to large tree transplanting services. We realized premiums for these trees. Some trees were left in areas we wanted for recreational hunting. We then allowed some customers to hunt there. These customers become loyal and send us referrals. This is where going trees an hobby farming get blurred. We always treat our activities as a business but try to keep our customers as friends.
Try to monitore your costs for various species as a bank would. You will have to make assumptions as to future expenses. Many people don't do this because they are just not confident that they will have accurate projections. Organizing costs into groups helps one see where costs are and help get handle on projections.

We feel lucky if we can harvest 70% of what we plant. If your area is with a high deer count (over 10 deer per square wooded mile) you may not be able to grow trees without deer fencing. This can be quite costly. In Pennsylvania you can get help from the game commission in erecting fencing. The State buys the fence and the grower erects it to the Commissions standards.Click here for details

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