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In spite of the best plans, problems can arise. The nature of some problems requires that contingency plans be formulated and that operational staff are required to make discretionary decisions concerning stock suitability. For ministry staff, in addition to consulting with the nursery services officer and regional reforestation specialist, decisions should consider the Nursery and Seed Branch Seedling Supply and Distribution Policy. At each stage in the planting program, the following questions must be answered regarding stock condition and suitability.

  • Is this stock what I expected, and is it still suitable for the intended purpose?
  • If the stock is not suitable, what can be done with it?
  • If the stock is available early, can I use it now?

Good communication is essential between the nursery/cold storage, nursery services staff, and the requesting agency. Solicitation of second opinions from specialists or reforestation foresters is encouraged.

Some problems may originate at the nursery and in cold storage. The following are some common problems and examples of possible solutions:

  • Insufficient seedlings are available to meet the request. This may arise due to a number of reasons, including inventory losses or a failure to meet morphological specifications (i.e., too short or tall and/or under-specified root collar diameter).

    Solutions
    1. Consider appropriateness of adjusting lift morphological specifications (see "Tracking,") and/or feasibility of culling seedlings impacted by pests or disease.
    2. If available in suitable species and seedlots, pick up excess seedlings from other requests or purchase surpluses from other sources.
    3. Evaluate feasibility of reallocating stock to ensure highest priority blocks are planted.
  • Stock is required for planting but is still frozen.

    Solutions
    1. If unfrozen stock is available, evaluate the feasibility of adjusting the planting schedule.
    2. Arrange for rapid thaw at nursery or storage facility, and then plant as soon as possible. For detailed guidelines on rapid thawing, refer to the Thawing Guidelines for Tree Seedlings, 1995 (C. Kooistra and S.Ostafew).
    3. Negotiate conditions of a short-term work stoppage with the contractor.
  • Stock is still succulent at the proposed delivery date.

    Solutions
    1. If the stock is too soft, it is not ready for planting. Delay shipment and evaluate suitability of projected revised planting start date. If acceptable with respect to planting window, delay shipping until stock is ready to plant. If not acceptable, cancel the project and evaluate options such as trading stock, holding stock over, transplanting, or destroying stock (see "Holding Over Container Stock" and "Transplanting,").
    2. In some cases, it may be appropriate to plant stock that is marginally succulent if planting is restricted to sites with low moisture stress, no frost risk, and weather is not excessively hot. This decision should be assessed very carefully -- if in doubt, delay planting.
  • Surplus stock is available from the ordered request.

    Solutions
    1. Assess feasibility of utilizing surplus of other seedlots to offset drops in inventory or to add in additional planting blocks that may have been deferred due to shortage of stock.
    2. If stock cannot be accommodated in the project and is a definite surplus, promptly advise the nursery that it will not be used.

In addition to nursery problems, there are site conditions that can occur, or problems during storage and shipping, especially during hot-planting, that will require prompt decisions and decisive action.

  • Stock health is in question when shipped to site or interim storage location. This may include observation of symptoms indicating serious seedling damage such as dry brittle roots discoloured below bark, mould on needles or stem, swollen or flushing buds, bark sloughing off the stem, stock refrozen during shipping. Specific action taken will depend on the severity and extent of the problem and may include:

    Solutions
    1. Implement actions to ameliorate the condition (see "Foliage and stem diseases");
    2. Provide best stock to planters to allow commencement of planting;
    3. If feasible, plant stock on sites with least stress conditions;
    4. On advice of the nursery services officer, ship stock to seedling testing facility for assessment of physiological condition and delay planting pending outcome of results;
    5. Assess possibility of culling stock by visual damage criteria; or
    6. If severely damaged, do not plant and arrange for destruction of the stock.
  • Hot-lift planting stock is still succulent when delivered to the planting site or interim storage facility.

    Solutions
    1. If the stock is too soft, do not plant. Appropriate action will depend on specific circumstances and may include not unloading the truck and returning the stock to the nursery or a suitable interim storage facility where it can be properly tended until it is ready for planting.
    2. Evaluate suitability of delaying the planting start date. If acceptable with respect to planting window, delay shipping until stock is ready to plant. If not acceptable, cancel the project and evaluate options such as trading stock, holding stock over, transplanting, or destroying stock.
    3. In some cases, it may be appropriate to plant stock that is marginally succulent if planting is restricted to sites with low moisture stress and no frost risk. This decision should be assessed very carefully -- if in doubt, delay planting.
  • Due to late snow melt or other factors, planting will be delayed.

    Solutions
    1. For spring-plant, cold-stored stock, planting after June 21 is not recommended due to decreased stock vigour from prolonged storage. Usually this situation leads to destroying stock.
    2. For summer planting, the nursery (and nursery services officer for ministry-funded seedlings) must be notified as soon as possible of revised planting dates to adjust the blackout treatment (see "Blackout").
  • A scheduled planting block is not ready for planting. This may be due to the site not having been harvested or only partially harvested, or to site preparation being delayed.

    Solutions
    1. Possible solutions may include finding alternative planting sites, trading stock, assessing risks associated with planting partially harvested areas (e.g., risk of relogging, risk of escape fire from any planned burning, likelihood of yarding damage), reassessing the block with planned site preparation to determine if reforestation objectives can be achieved by raw planting.
  • Planting contractor is in persistent non-compliance or serious non-compliance of contract conditions.

    Solutions
    1. For ministry-funded contracts, Forest Practices Branch supports the position that, in the case of serious or persistent non-compliance, the contract should be cancelled even at the cost of losing seedlings. At the time of cancellation, the feasibility of transferring the work to another contractor or trading the stock should be evaluated.

A decision to proceed with any of these options should be weighed against the possibility and costs of not achieving the goals and standards outlined in the SP.


Holding Over Container Stock

If stock cannot be planted as scheduled, it may be necessary to consider holding stock over until the next available planting window (Table 10). Holding over is not recommended because stock health and vigour are compromised by continued growth of the root system causing excessive root binding in the cavity resulting in poor aeration and drainage. Holding over smaller (PSB 211 and PSB 313) and older (2+0) stock types increases the risk of contracting root disease. Rapidly growing species such as Fdc, Lw, Ss, Cw, and hardwoods are more easily compromised by holding over than slower growing species such as Bl. Every effort should be made to stay with the original crop growing and planting schedule as set out in the initial contract.


Table 10.   The possibility of transplanting or holding stock over


Stock type Season Holding over Transplant

PCT 211A 1+0 Su No! Possible
PCT 313B 1+0 Sp No! Possible
PCT 313B 1+0 Su 1+0 Sp Possible
PCT 415B 1+0 Sp No! Not recommended
PCT 415B 1+0 Su 1+0 Sp Not recommended
PSB 313B 1+0 Sp No! Possible
PSB 313B 1+0 Su 1+0 Sp Possible
PSB 313B 2+0 Su 2+0 Sp Not recommended
PSB 410 1+0 Su 1+0 Sp Possible
PSB 410 1+0 Sp No! Possible
PSB 415B 1+0 Sp No! Possible
PSB 415B 1+0 Su 1+0 Sp Possible
PSB 415B 2+0 Su 2+0 Sp Not recommended
PSB 415D 1+0 Sp No! Not recommended
PSB 415D 1+0 Su 1+0 Sp Not recommended
PSB 415D 2+0 Su 2+0 Sp Not recommended
PSB 615 1+0 Sp No! Not recommended
PSB 615 1+0 Su 1+0 Sp Not recommended
PSB 615 2+0 Su 2+0 Sp Not recommended
PBR .5+.5 Su .5+.5 Sp Not recommended
PBR .5+.5 Sp .5+1.5 Sp Not recommended
PBR .5+1.5 Su .5+1.5 Sp Not recommended
BBR 2+0 Sp No! Not recommended


Transplanting

Transplanting container stock to the field to produce a PBR is one method of holding over but should generally only be considered for smaller 1+0 stock types (Table 10). Spring is the ideal time to transplant stock. Transplanting later than June 15th (May 15th for coastal nurseries) does not allow enough time for adequate root egress and does not take full advantage of field culture. The 211 1+0 stock should not be held over by transplanting unless it is lightly rooted. Larger and older stock types are not recommended because they will produce excessively large seedlings that are difficult to manage at the nursery, will be expensive to store and plant. Transplants of 2+0 container stock may also develop root disease associated with being root-bound.

When holding stock over or transplanting, realize that seedling cost increases -- in the case of Sx, a PBR costs 62% more than a 313B (Table 7). When making a cost decision to hold stock over, examine the impacts on the whole planting program (e.g.,size of program next year, regeneration time frames, availability of plantable spots, and site accessibility). Also consider the requirement for increased logistical support (e.g., clearing snow and planter availability).

Plug to plug transplants (PPT) are another possibility when holding over is required. Other than when the initial sowing is as miniplugs (see plug transplants), this option is very labour intensive because it is unlikely that stock to be held over is in a container type for which transplanting machinery is available. It is also imperative that the plug to be transplanted is lightly rooted and small enough to fit into the preferred final cavity type. Cost of the final product will naturally have to increase as production inputs increase.


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