Direct seeding short-lived solution

Longleaf pine forests of Louisiana and East Texas were particularly devastated during the “golden age of lumbering” in the early 20th century as companies used steam-powered logging equipment, which provided a challenge to foresters: How to return millions of acres of cutover pine into forests.

When the Alexandria Research Center of the U.S. Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station was established after World War II, almost 5 million acres of forestland in the two-state area were in the need of reforestation.

The Research Center’s assignment was to develop technology to return this cutover land to plush forests that once blanketed the area.

It was estimated that if this treeless longleaf pine land was reforested by planting nursery grown seedlings, the job would take 50 or more years at the rate feasible with the then current nursery capability. There was a significant need to develop additional technology to meet this awesome reforestation project. Although expanding bareroot nursery capacity was an obvious goal, another option was development of a direct seeding capability.

Sowing of tree seeds on prepared forests soils was often considered and tried — and sometimes the trials met with success. In l920, the Great Southern Lumber Co. at Bogalusa hand seeded slash pine on furrows plowed by teams of mules. An 800-acre tract was successfully regenerated. The company’s ranger, F.O. “Red” Bateman, was responsible for this successful seeding.

Following attempts failed and Bateman was quoted as describing his evaluation of the potential of direct seeding as: “When we went out to start seeding, there was a pheelock (field lark or meadowlark)sitting’ on a fence, he whistled, and up come 50 more pheelocks. We went down the furrows, dropping longleaf seeds every six feet. The pheelocks followed us down the furrows, and, gentlemen, when we got to the end, there wasn’t a damn thing left in the furrows but bird s_ _ _!”

Harold Derr, the research forester assigned to task of developing direct seeding, justified it by the technique being fast and requiring minimum labor, significantly cheaper than planting, it provided denser stands—at the time planting success was poor, and it could take advantage of bumper seed crops. The storage of longleaf pine seed was then problematic.

Early in the evaluations of direct seeding, predator control by men patrolling with shot guns was the only practical method of reducing losses to birds — mostly flocks of migrant species. The open grassland of the cutover forests favored the development of large flocks of species such as meadowlarks.

Rodent Repellents