Ordering and Tracking Stock TypesMain MenuPrevious ChapterNext Chapter

The Seed Planning and Registry System (SPAR)

The principal administrative tool for implementing a stock type selection is the Seed Planning and Registry System (SPAR). All seedlings being ordered to meet basic silviculture obligations on Crown lands must use SPAR. The essential steps in processing sowing requests, from licensee/district requests to the seed being sown at a nursery are shown in Figure 1.

SPAR provides on-line access to silviculture staff at district, regional, and branch levels, and to ministry clients. SPAR provides the following functions for selecting stock types and ordering seedlings:

  • Application of nursery sowing rules.
  • Automation of the seed transfer guidelines.
  • Ability to enter requests up to five years in advance as a pending request for planning purposes.
  • Assistance in the preparation of nursery contract tenders.

For a SPAR request to be actioned, it must be entered and approved. SPAR can also identify suitable seedlots for planting locations and provides the ability to do on-line queries and report submissions as well as other seedling-related activities.

The facilities for seed preparation are limited, and sowing requests made early provide the best assurance against scheduling disappointments. In particular, the seed processing requirements for Abies species and Cw, Yc, and Pw necessitate additional time at the Tree Seed Centre. Table 8 lists the number of weeks required for seed pretreatment. The actual dates will vary depending upon the experience and facilities of the individual nursery.

It is important to know the timelines required for the nursery production and cold-storage phases. The time required for production of the various stock types is shown in Figure 6.

Entering and approving the sowing request early will expedite the entire seed preparation process and assure that stock is available when it is needed. For example, if seed for summer stock is sown late, the delivery date could be later than desired or the stock might not be available at all.

Table 8.   Seed pretreatment time requirements by species for a coastal nursery. Time maximums may vary with seedlot and nursery.

Coastal nursery
Species Pretreatment time prior to sow date*

Long stratification species:
Ba, Bl, Bn 12 wks
Pw, Yc 12 wks
Specialty seed preparation:
Cw pelletization 6 wks
Incubation density separation (IDS) 6 wks
Intermediate stratification species:
Hm, Hw, Py 4 wks
Pli, Bg, Plc 4 wks
Short stratification species:
Fdc, Fdi, Lw, Ss 3 wks
Sx 3 wks
No stratification species:
Cw 0 wks

*  Confirm the actual sow date with SPAR.

It is essential to commit yourself to a SPAR order --

the sowing request is not the place for good intentions.

Re-scheduling of a sowing request can jeopardize nursery crops and reforestation practices. If, at an early stage in the ordering process, a change must be made, these changes should, depending upon the contract obligations, be communicated directly to nursery services in Victoria; licensees must contact their nursery.

Once seed has been withdrawn from storage, soaked, and stratified, it must be used quickly. Prolonged storage of stratified seed prior to sowing is not recommended, as it may allow fungal infestation that decreases the germination percentage and the vigour of the seed. Late changes cannot be accommodated without incurring seed and crop losses. The costs of processing seed that is stratified but not sown will be charged to the requesting agency. All efforts must be made to ensure that stratified seed is used.

Nursery and Shipping Administration (NSA) System

Overview of data flow

NSA is a PC-based system that imports its original information from the mainframe SPAR data. The objective of NSA is to provide a database on seedlings throughout their life in the nursery until final shipment to the districts. Districts, regions and other ministry staff are able to view and utilize information on ministry-funded seedlings being grown throughout the province.

Seedling quality control information, inventory, pesticide, lift, and shipping data are entered at the ministry nursery sites (Skimikin, Surrey and Green Timbers nurseries) and at the nursery services sites (north, coast, and south zones) for the non-ministry nursery data. These data are currently compiled for each zone and then compiled for the province at nursery services headquarters in Victoria. Victoria creates a file for the district system, which is loaded onto the FTP server.


Regular communication between silviculturists and nursery growers is strongly recommended once a seedling order has been placed. Commitment to a given delivery date carries the responsibility of taking possession of stock, even if the area to be planted is not ready. This responsibility means that contingency plans need to be formulated and that operational staff be prepared to make decisions concerning stock suitability.

The ability to formulate and implement a contingency plan depends upon the silviculturists tracking the condition of both field sites and seedlings at the nursery. Up-to-date inventories, and seedling size and condition must be tracked.


The number of seedlings meeting the stock type specifications at shipping time may be greater or less than what was ordered. Nurseries sow up to 30% more seed than is needed to fill an order as insurance against losses during the production phase. Losses occur due to such factors as poor germination, seedling mortality, and poor growth.

Seedling inventories of ministry funded requests are typically done twice for each crop. The second, or last, inventory is done just prior to the nursery extracting and packing seedlings (referred to as "lifting"); June to August for summer-plant orders, and November to December for spring orders. Silviculturists should reconcile inventory numbers against the number of seedlings requested to determine if contingency plans must be made. Inventory reports can be obtained directly from the nurseries. Reports for ministry-funded requests can be obtained from NSA as described in previous section.

Size specifications

Size specifications for height and root collar diameter (Table 3) are usually part of the nursery contract. Silviculturists can adjust the size specifications for a request if the number of seedlings is less than the original order. Such adjustments will increase the number of acceptable seedlings, but will also affect seedling performance expectations. Review the site limiting factors these seedlings will encounter before changing size specifications. Scattergrams are used to graph the relationship between seedling height and diameter (Figure 11). They are easily produced and useful in estimating how many more seedlings could be made available through adjustments to the height and root collar diameter specifications.

Seedling condition

It is important to track seedling condition, both from an inventory perspective, and also from an outplanting performance point of view. The readiness of seedlings for the rigours of handling and site conditions must be known well in advance of the scheduled planting date. The following section provides information regarding specific seedling health and condition issues.

Figure 11.   Scattergram of Sx PSB 313 1+0 Sp at lift, with interpretation. Dots indicate the dimensions of individual seedlings. The quadrants are defined from the stock specifications for Sx PSB 313B 1+0 Sp (Table 3). The ideal would be to have a sample of seedlings that all achieve but do not exceed the target height and diameterthe centre (cross-hatched) quadrant.

coloured barTop