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close this bookTrees and their Management (IIRR, 1992, 195 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentMessage
View the documentProceedings of the workshop
View the documentList of participants
View the documentCurrent program thrusts in upland development
View the documentTrees and their management
View the documentSustainable agroforest land technology (Salt-3)
View the documentOutplanting seedlings
View the documentTree pruning and care
View the documentBagging of young fruits
View the documentEstablishing bamboo farms
View the documentPhilippine bamboo species: Their characteristics, uses and propagation
View the documentGrowing rattan
View the documentGrowing anahaw
View the documentGrowing buri
View the documentShelterbelts
View the documentBank stabilization
View the documentAssessing the usefulness of indigenous and locally adapted trees for agroforestry
View the documentA guide for the inventory, identification and screening of native plant species with potential for agroforestry
View the documentFruit trees for harsh environments
View the documentCitrus production
View the documentJackfruit production
View the documentMango production
View the documentMiddle to high understory shade tolerant crops
View the documentLow understory shade-tolerant crops
View the documentConserving available fuelwood

Outplanting seedlings

Many seedlings from the wilds die when planted out in the field. High seedling mortality is often caused by careless handling and planting. While proper species choice is of primary importance, a farmer should be able to greatly increase his success in raising trees by following these guidelines.


Use only good seedlings. This means seedlings that have been properly hardened off, with a woody stem 30-50 cm tall. Discard all damaged, deformed or diseased ones. Taller seedlings may be used in cogonal areas so they will soon overtop the grass. For dry and harsh environments, older seedlings with a more developed root system and thicker stem (more sugar reserves in the stem) will survive better.

Potted seedlings will survive better in harsher sites than bare-root seedlings because they have a more complete roots system which will not be disturbed.

Make sure potted seedlings have a well-developed rootball. Do not water them on the day they are outplanted because this will soften the soil and cause it to compact when planted. Seedlings brought from a distant nursery should be brought to the planting site and allowed to recover from the transportation shock for 24 weeks before outplanting. Fruit tree seedlings purchased from a commercial or government nursery usually need to be hardened off at the planting site before outplanting as this is not done at the nursery.

Gently lift bare-root seedlings from the seedbed with a spade or shovel. Trim the tap root to about, 20 cm for easier planting. Also, trim the crown to reduce water loss through transpiration and bring it into balance with the root system. Cut back any soft green shoots, leaving at least 30 cm of woody stem.

Cut back any soft green shoots

Mud-pack bare-root seedlings when they are to be transported. Dig a hole and mix in pure clay soil and water to make a slurry. Rinse off the seedling roots and dip them in, coating them well. Wrap them in folded banana stem sections or sacks and keep them in the shade. Roots and stems are easily killed when exposed to heat or direct sunlight. If the trip is long, remoisten the containers.

Some trees, such as Gmelina arborea, can be planted by stumps. Prepare as for bare root seedlings but cut back the stem to only 1 cm. Ideally, stumps should be 1 cm acmes. This is one way of handling overgrown seedlings.

Sackbanana leaf shealth

stumps should be 1 cm acmes

They are also easier to transport to the field.


Timing of outplanting is crucial. Plant at the beginning of the rainy season but only after the soil has become fully moistened. In areas with a severe dry season, make sure trees are in the ground early enough to develop a deep root system before the dry season hits. Cuttings, such as kakawate, may be planted late in the dry season so the cut end or wound dries out before the soil becomes wet.

When outplanting potted fruit trees, slice off the bottom 1 cm off the plastic bag. This will eliminate any bend that has begun to form in the taproot. Slice the rest of the bag down the side and remove before planting.


In poor soils, plant in a hole much larger than the root ball. If manure is to be added and has not yet been allowed to decompose, put it in the bottom of the hole and cover it with 10 cm of soil. If chemical fertilizers are to be used mix them in with the soil to be used in filling up the hole. Scrape topsoil from the area around the hole and use it to fill it up after planting the seedling. Gently step on the soil around the seedling to tamp it down firmly.

ln drier sites, recess the seedling slightly into the ground to form a small catchment to trap moisture.

Bare-root seedling outplanting is easiest with two people, one to hold the seedling upright in the hole and one to fill the hole in and tamp the soil down. Be careful not to bend the taproot.

Bare-root seedling outplanting is easiest with two people

Mulch newly planted seedlings to conserve moisture and keep soil surface temperatures cool. Apply a 10cm thick layer of mulch in a ring 10-cm away from the stem. This can be renewed every two weeks.

In areas where livestock are allowed to wander loose, fence newly planted seedlings off from grazing areas.

Erect a temporary shade for especially valuable seedlings or seedlings that have not hardened off enough. This can be as simple as two coconut leaves leaned against each other or it can be made of cogon grass.

Two coconut leaves leaned