At Meeks' Farms & Nursery, we are only successful if your new reforestation project is successful. Following are some guidelines for buying container seedlings.
Seedling Quality Seedling quality is perhaps the most important factor in buying any tree species. In container seedlings, a good tight root plug with white root tips present should be the first criteria examined. Plugs should remain intact during handling with little if any soil becoming dislodged during shipping and handling. A healthy green top with needles 8-12 inches in length for longleaf and 8-12 inch stem for loblolly and slash. Seedlings should exhibit a healthy green color with no signs of disease.
Plug Length What length plug should I buy is a common question. At Meeks' Farms, we are firm believers in the 6 Inch Deep Plug Seedlings. Often nurseries will try to sell you what they have in stock. We have been in the seedling business for 15 years and from experience, the deeper the plug, the harder the seedling is too grow in the nursery. It is easier in the nursery to grow a 4"or 5"plug than a 6" plug. The 6" plug requires more stress in the nursery to completely capture the entire plug with roots. In the past 25 years we have sold over 270 million 6" Deep Plug Seedlings. We have 1 customer out of thousands that requests a shorter plug and we specifically grow that contract at a substantial discount to meet this customer's request. You will always have folks saying that plug length is not important. Our response is, "Why doesn't everyone grow 6" seedlings if there is no advantage to the short plugs and how much cheaper are the shorter plugs? " We have recently invested a great deal of money into a new tray mold to grow our new "Super Deep Plug Seedlings" that are 6" deep and have 115 ml of volume, which is a 15% greater root volume than our standard Deep Plugs. There are limited quantities of these seedlings available for sale at the present time.
In an on-going study at 4 sites in Alabama, (Covington, Escambia, Lee & Macon counties) root types and plug lengths of several container types have been compared. The following is a summary of the data for two plug lengths. The Styro-block 415-B (6 inch plug) and Hiko V-93 (3.5 inch plug). At age two some of the results are as follows.
Four criteria have been examined: 1. Survial
2. Ground Line Diameter
4. Emergence Grass Stage
1. Survival On three of four sites the 6 inch plug had a higher survival percentage than the 3.5 inch plug.
2. Ground Line Diameter - On three of four sites the 6 inch plug had a greater GLD than the 3.5 inch plug.
3. Height- On three of four sites the seedlings that grew from 6 inch plugs had attained a greater height growth than the 3.5 inch plug.
4. Emergence from Grass Stage- On all four sites the 6 inch plug had a higher percentage of seedlings that had emerged from the grass stage than the 3.5 inch plug.