CROSSETT, AR (News release) - If you’re a private landowner and would like to plant at least 20 acres to a mix of hardwoods, start planning now and contact an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Private Lands Biologist. The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program has funding available for private landowners, but several key steps will have to be completed before planting can occur.
Site preparation will have to be completed this summer in order to give hardwood seedlings the proper conditions for optimal growth – especially if converting old pastures or hayfields. Grass dominated sites will require a significant amount of site prep, as existing perennial grasses should be eradicated the summer or fall prior to tree planting.
For landowners with perennial warm season grasses, such as bermudagrass or bahiagrass, you’ll need to apply herbicides during the summer months when they are actively growing. For cool season grasses, such as fescue, landowners can spray them in the fall. Grasses provide too much competition for water during the growing season and can lead to tree failures, especially during dry summers. Their eradication or control is almost a requirement prior to tree planting.
After eliminating the competition, the site will likely need to be sub-soiled or “ripped,” as it is more commonly termed. Ripping is achieved by pulling a steel shank behind a tractor and allowing it to dig into the soil at a depth of 15-18 inches. This will break up the hard pan and allow the tree roots to spread out. It also will allow water to infiltrate the soil down to the root zone. Ripping also allows for faster and easier planting for hand crews.
After the trees are planted, a pre-emergent herbicide is recommended to keep any grasses or competing vegetation from coming back during the establishment year. The pre-emergent must be applied before the tree buds begin to swell.
Biologists and foresters can provide you with a site specific schedule for implementing the practices, as well as a list of contractors. The Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program can even provide cost-share if the project ranks high enough. Cost-share is not available for planting cutovers or for non-native trees.
Click here for more information on the Partners for Fish and Wildlife biologists to contact in Arkansas about establishing hardwoods and providing wildlife habitat.
Click here to contact an AGFC private lands biologist who can also can help landowners with hardwood tree planning, information on other programs and establishing wildlife habitat.
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