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Planting trees in pasture advice.

 
Posts: 86
Location: Saskatchewan
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I have around 6 to 8 acres of pasture and actually many more places that I would eventually want to plant many many trees. Let's start with my 6 or so acres i want to start with i want to plant hundreds if not thousands of trees in loose rows criss crossing the pasture creating a thick silvo pasture.

The pasture now is rotationally grazed by one horse and the grasses are thick and lush growing to two feet tall. Mowing is not really an option.

I will be planting from seed from locally growing trees of all kinds. Is there anything I can do that is quick and easy to prep each seed site that will give the seeds a better chance? Will just putting a seed in the ground every 2 feet and leaving them be worth it?
 
gardener
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Howdy Marc!

Since you are planting from seed, which I totally support by the way, I would really think about protecting the seedlings.  As a kid, we had a bunch of silver maples that we planted as soon as we moved into the house.  Several years later they went to seed and I collected the seeds and planted them in every corner of bare dirt I could find.  I must have planted hundreds, but I only transplanted about a dozen of the best one.  When I transplanted, I did so in pairs, assuming that one would probably die.  They all survived.  I eventually re-transplanted the spares across the road in an empty lot my eccentric neighbor owned.  A few years later, my parents bought the spare lot and we got the trees back!  But I have digressed enough.

Considering that you want to plant into a pasture currently being grazed, I would consider planting tree seeds in little peat pots to get started.  Once they get their start, transplant wherever you want, but protect with something.  I used tomato cages, but I suspect that you need something taller.  Maybe you can get some chicken wire so they can get established.

Given how many trees you want to plant, you might need to plant in successive waves.  Also consider that not all will survive.

I wish you luck on your project and please keep us updated on your project.  I am very curious as to how it works out.

Eric
 
pollinator
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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I like the idea of 10ft of trees, followed by 90ft of pasture, followed by 10ft of trees and 90ft of pasture, etc, etc.
That 10ft strip of trees, I would plant two rows of trees. The two rows of trees in just 10ft is better than just 1 row of trees. and the 90ft of pasture means that you have enough pasture even after the trees mature and turn into 40ft giants.
 
Marc Dube
Posts: 86
Location: Saskatchewan
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I was thinking of more like 2 rows of trees 10 ft apart and closer to 50 feet or less until the next row starts with trees 6 or so feet apart in the rows. With observation I have noticed that grasses actually grow better in half shade among and in tree rows like this. I dont know if its latitude or that this was traditionally a prairie region but trees generally max out at 30 to 40 feet tall and never get to be absolutely huge.

A lot of the trees that I am planning on using will copice well and are actually desired by most ruminants.
A short list that will make up the first wave of planting is, Siberian elm, american elm, green ash, manitoba maple, caragana, hazelnut, poplar, and a couple varieties of willow.
 
Eric Hanson
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Marc,

I see that you are from Saskatchewan.  How hot does it get in the summer?  Also, do you get a dry period in the summer?  The reason I ask is that I too get some shaded grass that does better than grass in pure sun.  In my case it is because of a terribly hot and sometimes dry summer that parches the sunny grass and the shaded grass is buffered against summers onslaught.

Also, have you given any thoughts to planting in peat pots to get started and then transplanting?

Eric
 
Marc Dube
Posts: 86
Location: Saskatchewan
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Eric,
The summers here generally have a couple weeks hovering around 33 degrees Celsius and the months of July and August will have very few rains, just what the thunderstorms bring in.

I've thought about starting some in peat pots and probably will do at least some that way to test it out but my concerns are with transplanting them either in the fall or spring. If I transplant them in the fall I would have to time the rains right as I wont be able to irrigate once planted. My biggest concern with waiting until spring is over wintering them, I would have basically plant them in the garden first and then dig up and move to the final spot in the spring.
 
Eric Hanson
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Location: Southern Illinois
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Marc,

Generally the best time to plant trees is sometime is in the fall.  The idea is that the roots will continue to grow and spread and the plant won’t be terribly concerned about growing leaves.  The roots will continue to grow until the ground freezes, and will continue to grow once the ground thaws.

Saskatchewan is as big place.  How far north are you?  The reason I ask is I am wondering when your ground freezes and thaws.

Eric
 
Marc Dube
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Location: Saskatchewan
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Thanks Eric.

I'm actually near the south east corner of the province but the ground freezes mid to late October and does not thaw out until the beginning to mid April.
 
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Would you be open to creating a nursery section that you can wire off from the rest of the plot. You can make ridges and grow your trees safely, then eventually when they are tall enough you can plant them.into their final destination.

Do you plan on always having horses in the field? If it was secure with wire you could happily graze sheep with your trees once they are big enough and have protection
 
Marc Dube
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Location: Saskatchewan
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Thanks Jay.

Yes I could start a nursery section up to start the trees but my experiences with transplanting young trees is that they need lots of ground prep and irrigation to get them going. Both of which I am trying to avoid by planting by seed in place.

No it may not always be grazed by horses i dont really know what the future holds for grazing animals but sheep are definitely a possibility.
 
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I converted pasture into grove by planting 1 year old seedlings 10 x10 and they are doing well.
 
pollinator
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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My plan was (full disclosure, I sold the place before I actually did it--but I bought most of the stuff to do it) to do Mark Shepard style swales (single bottom plow run on contour or key line throwing the furrow downhill) and then planting a LOT of trees from seed using a one-row corn planter set up to plant every foot or two. Seed the bare dirt with a low growing clover. We can buy bulk seed from https://www.treeshrubseeds.com at good prices.
 
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Location: North Thomas Lake, Manitoba
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Hey Marc,

I'm taking on a similar project in Western Manitoba, so not too far away. I'm building air pruning nursery beds to give the seedlings a 1-season head start vs the grass. My pasture is lakefront so I'm not as worried about water as you are. My top concerns are mice and deer. The air pruning beds are easy to care for and produce seedlings that are very amenable to transplanting. Edible Acres has a couple short YouTube videos on the topic which is where I got the plan.

Good luck to you,
Nick
 
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