The two big events in the life of a forest are the day you harvest your timber and get a check and the day you replant and re-invest in another generation of trees. In Louisiana, that reforestation decision — whether it is pine or hardwoods — takes time and planning.
Robert Tassin, consulting forester with Baker Land & Timber in Alexandria, outlines the keys to a successful planting:
Good site preparation.
A good management plan.
Good genetics in your seedlings.
A good planting crew with good supervision.
Fortunately Louisiana also has a good cost-share program called the Forest Productivity Program or FPP. Landowners can apply April 1 of each year to be eligible for 50-percent cost share on planting and even on site preparation, chemical release or prescribed burns. These funds come from a portion of the severance taxes paid to the state each year by those harvesting their timber.
Tassin said the first decision when a landowner calls with a replanting job is to check out the location, ascertain if it is a pine or a hardwood planting and if there is a government program that can help. In addition to FPP there are also programs through the Natural Resources Conservation Program (NRCS).
“Right now we are writing FPP applications for next year,” he said.
The majority of plantings would be bare root loblolly or other varieties like slash pine. A number of programs now promote containerized longleaf plantings and mitigation banking also gives incentives to hardwood planting. (We will leave mitigation banking for a future article.)
New plantings are done during colder months when the trees are dormant. Crews can begin planting containerized seedlings in late October and bareroot seedling work might begin around December 15 depending on the weather, said Tassin. Steve Meeks with Meeks Farm and Nursery said with containerized seedlings you can plant early in the fall if adequate moisture is present.
“September is not out of the question with container seedlings,” he said. But there is usually work to be done before seedlings get into the ground.