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Tree and shrub catalog deadline approaches

While the descriptions for each species listed in the Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District’s tree and shrub catalog can help people select the perfect tree for their specific location, proper planting is critical to get a tree off to a good start.

The deadline to order fruit trees from the Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District is March 12 and the deadline for the remainder of the catalog is April 1. Visit soilwater.org/annual-tree-shrub-sale to download a catalog, order form and curbside pick-up instructions. Paper copies of the 2021 catalog can also be requested by phone at 664-2351, ext. 5 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or emailing chaut-co@soilwater.org.

Considering that tree and shrub orders will be distributed via curbside pick-up on April 23-24, now is a good time to make a selection and think about how to plant bare root tree seedlings.

Bareroot plants are one-to three-year-old nursery stock that are harvested, stored, and shipped without soil or potting mix surrounding their roots. Bareroot plants are typically inexpensive, easy to plant and offer field grown hardiness. They are an excellent choice for many hardwoods and conifers used in conservation applications such as windbreaks, shelterbelts, living snow fences, buffers, riparian channel stabilization, reforestation programs, wildlife enhancements and more.

To ensure seedling survival, follow these steps. First, the seedlings must be stored properly prior to planting, ideally between 33 to 35∂F, 95% plus relative humidity, in a wind protected and shaded area with the roots moist. Keep roots covered with moist (not saturated) peat moss or shredded paper until directly before planting. Conversely, never leave seedlings in standing water.

Carefully choose the planting site. Trees are difficult to successfully move once they become established. There is the adage “The best days for planting are the worst days for the planter”. If possible, plant on cloudy, cool, humid days; avoiding sunny, dry, and windy conditions or when the roots risk freezing. Plant your seedlings as quickly as possible after order pick-up and be sure to keep roots covered and always protected. Please note that conifers are particularly sensitive to drying out.

After deciding on the location in which you will plant, prepare a hole two times wider and slightly deeper than the seedling’s root system. Holes too narrow or too shallow can compromise seedling’s success. Place the seedling in the hole, holding the plant vertical with the root collar (interface of root and stem) at or just below the surface grade. While holding the seedling in place, backfill the hole, filling up to the root collar or slightly below grade.

To remove any air pockets, saturate the planting. If settling occurs, add more soil. During drought years, water the tree generously every week to ten days during the first year. If you are in an area where animal damage regularly occurs or a place that is not easily maintained, providing tree protection with the use of tree tubes will enhance survival. Tree mats are an excellent option for conifer transplants and seedlings. The mats control weeds that would otherwise compete for moisture, nutrients, and sunlight. Tree tubes, tree mats, posted signs, fertilizer pellets, barley straw pond kits, berries, conservation seed mixes and shrubs are also available in the catalog.

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