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New Zealand Foresters Starting to Recognise the Benefits of Containerised Tree Stocks

During my ten year plus involvement in the New Zealand forest nursery sector and association with Australian forest nursery growers, I have observed a slow progression of Australian forest nurseries from bare-root to containerised tree stock production. Why isn't New Zealand following the Australian's and the rest of the world's lead into containerised production, or are we just starting to?

The last New Zealand Forest Growers Association (NZFNGA) tour focused on the region between Adelaide and Melbourne where we visited six forest nurseries. Of these only two where still solely producing bare-root stock. The four remaining have converted to 50-100% containerised tree stock production.

The largest conversion is for Hancock Victoria Plantations at their Gelliondale Nursery where they made a significant investment of $A11 million dollars to build a state-of-the-art containerised facility in 2010. This nursery now produces 75% of its tree stocks in containers with the remainder being bare-root stock focused on cuttings and clonal tree stocks.

Why switch to a different growing method? Whilst there are benefits for the nursery, there are even greater benefits in the forest.

Nursery benefits include improved worker comfort and safety, labour efficiencies through reduced manual handling, a 50% reduction in water use, reduced risk of disease and therefore reduced chemical use and sustainability of the site as a plantation nursery.

Forestry benefits include less planting shock, increased survival rates, increased initial tree growth, an expanded planting window, longer storage of tree stocks after lifting and packing in the nursery and easier planting supervision. In a containerised nursery, there is also much greater potential to inoculate tree stocks with Trichomderma endophytes which provide a range of tree health and growing benefits (click here).

So why is this transition not happening in New Zealand? Well it might just be starting to happen with a prominent forestry company currently in the planning stage for a 5 million cell containerised forest nursery. This significant investment is additional recognition of the benefits of containerised tree stocks.

Containerised tree stocks

Vigorous and healthy containerised tree stocks at Waiuku will be shipped out to various planting programmes around New Zealand this planting season.

PF Olsen has been producing and selling containerised tree stocks from our forest nursery in Waiuku since 1996. We can grow high-quality and competitively-priced Radiata pine tree stocks (click here), as well as other species. Seed can either be supplied by customers, or chosen from PF Olsen's wide range of genetically improved control-pollinated seed from our Seddon seed orchard (click here). We can also produce tree stocks from clonal stock or cuttings if required. For any enquiry, contact Kevin Haine, Nursery Manager, on M: 021 402 148 or E: kevin.haine@pfolsen.com

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