Tree planting season at Starker Forests can last for several months. Annually, Starker Forests plants over one thousand acres. Each acre, of 43,560 square feet, is planted with 400 to 450 trees. This accounts for an approximate spacing of 10 feet by 10 feet. The planting density varies by site characteristics, as well as seedling availability. In December, when the days are the shortest of the year, tree planting season begins. It can last until the end of March, or even April if the winter has been particularly cold or snowy. Some years we also have a fall planting season in addition to the normal winter planting season. This will occur in late September or early October and planting is dependent on seedling condition and weather and soil temperatures. The advantage of a fall plant is that there is usually warm enough soil temperatures to allow the seedlings to have some impressive root growth before going dormant for the winter.
Approximately 80% of the trees we plant are Douglas fir. Other species include Western Red Cedar, Grand fir, Western Hemlock, Incense Cedar, Port Orford Cedar, Alaska Yellow Cedar, Ponderosa Pine, Oregon Ash. Professional contracted crews plant each tree by hand using highly experienced tree planters. In fact, one crew that we work with has had the same foreman for over 15 years. Our well established relationships with our planting crews helps ensure quality tree planting so that the seedlings have a high rate of survival. The seedlings are planted using a planting tool called a Hoe-dad. It is a special shovel-like tool used especially for planting trees.
If you do the math, you will calculate that Starker Forests plants over 400,000 trees per year. Where do we get all of these seedlings? We provide seed that is site specific to our forests, to nurseries in British Columbia, Canada, where they grow the seedlings and ship them back to us to be planted on our forestlands in Western Oregon.
Tree planting season is long and tiring for the managers and planters. They work during the time of year when we have short days, rain, snow and sometimes frozen soils. Tree planters plant many hundreds of trees per day. We know that with successful tree planting seasons we can ensure the future of our forests. We know that our future forests will continue to provide clean water, wildlife habitat and wood fiber.