Proper Quantity of water for pine tree seedlings via drip irrigat

jeffreymNovember 26, 2007


I have some open land in Central Michigan that I want to reclaim with pine trees. They get full sun for most of the day. The soil is classified by Michigan State University soil test as "loamy sand" with low,high,low NPK. I currently grow pumpkins under black plastic mulch with tee tape drip irrigation with holes spaced every 8 inches. I would like to know the "ultimate range" of water I could deliver to several hundred pine tree seedlings that I will be getting from the County Conservation District this spring. They will be Red Pine and White Pine (maybe some Jack Pine also). I can grow them under the plastic, or without the plastic. I can drip for as long or short as I want (timers), and as often (daily, weekly, monthly?) as I want. So my question is, what would be the perfect amount of water to give to these 2-4 year seedlings (12 to 28 inches tall). Some are just a couple of years old and some are transplants from seed beds. Again, sandy loam, full sun. The area around is an old pine plantation with 50 foot red and white pines, so I know they grow naturally....I just want to speed things along (deer cover). Also, I do have a fertalizer injector, so any information on that would be helpful also.

Thanks a bunch....Jeff-

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jeffreym, two observations.
We laid out a tree farm under continuous drip irrigation (1 gallon/hr., reclaimed water, per tree). The trees were in "grow bags" and within a month all the pine trees (Pinus elliottii) showed signs of stress. The irrigation to that part of the farm was shut off and the pines recovered. They were left alone and thrived.
In these parts, many housing sub divisions have been constructed in areas where pine trees were dominant. Within three years (my "guesstimate) very many had succumbed to the combined effects of lawn irrigation and fertilization.
Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2007 at 6:59AM
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So, basically...don't give them supplemental water.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2007 at 3:06PM
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Sherwood Botsford(3a)

Give them water, but sparingly. A 24" tree is about what I grow in a 2 gallon pot. They get about a quart of water spread over 90 minutes when they get watered. I don't water until the top two inches are bone dry.

You will probably be fine if you mulch them for about 4' around with black plastic to keep the weeds from competing with them.

Planting in the field like this, when you water them give them about 1-2 gallons each.

When you plant them, dig a fairly deep hole. (Power post hole diggers are great...) Fill in to the bottom of the pine roots, place the tree, and finish filling. You want some loose porous soil under the tree. Now water it well.
Much of the water will end up under the tree. Which is where you want the roots to go.

Be carefull of light watering. This will encourage the roots to stay at the surface. They become dependent on you, and when you forget, they die.

I'm a bit surprised that you have white pine natively on sandy soil. Most white pines I've seen have been on moist lowland soils that didn't have much sand. White pine may need shelter to get started. Your conservation office will know. In any case I'd expect white pine to need more water than either red or jack.

Other pines to consider are lodgepole and scots. Both are more symetrical that jack. The lodgepole tends to be taller and thinner.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2008 at 8:05PM
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