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Originally published: 2013-02-06 11:26:27
Last modified: 2013-02-06 11:26:27

Native hardwood tree sale deadline March 19

by Anna Oakes

The Watauga County Soil and Water Conservation office is currently taking orders for its annual hardwood tree sale, with 11 native species available.

The deadline to order trees is March 19 at 5 p.m., and all orders must be prepaid. The cost is $15 for five seedlings, which are between 18 and 36 inches tall with a large root system and stem. The delivery date will be around the second week of April.

Brian Chatham, conservation technician for the Watauga County Soil and Water Conservation District, said the district has offered this program fro about five years.

"It's very difficult for landowners to find native hardwood seedlings," Chatham said.

The Soil and Water district works with a nursery to secure seedlings at a special rate, and the district has been pleased with the quality of the nursery's seedlings, Chatham said, calling them vigorous and fast producing.

"It's a fair price for the quality of seedling you're getting," he said.

Species available this year are northern red oak, white oak, chestnut oak, saw-tooth oak, pawpaw, persimmon, button bush, crab apple, red mulberry, American hazelnut and Chickasaw plum.

Trees come in packs of five or in variety packs with multiple species.

Many of the varieties are good for producing timber, and all are beneficial for wildlife. Some, including the red mulberry, northern red oak, white oak and chestnut oak, make good shade trees. Edibles include red mulberry, persimmon and pawpaw.

Some trees are well-suited to grow nearby streams and others will do well on "upland" areas, such as ridges.

"It doesn't matter your site -- we've got trees that will suit it," Chatham said.

The edibles, white oaks and saw-tooths will sell out quick, he said. A popular tree in past sales, the chinquapin, is not available this year, but the district office hopes to offer this species next year.

The trees come with planting instructions. Landowners are encouraged to use tree tubes to facilitate upward growth and protect seedlings from animals and pests during their first years of growth.

Chatham said soil testing, good site selection and proper soil amendments are also encouraged. Landowners must be careful not to "burn" seedlings with too much fertilizer, he said.

In a related program, the Soil and Water Conservation District offers financial assistance to farm owners who want to establish trees on unused land -- perhaps land that is too steep to farm or not needed for grazing. Farmers who qualify are eligible for cost-sharing assistance if the trees are maintained on the land for at least 10 years.

"We encourage any landowners who are interested to contact us to see if their land is eligible and what we can do for them," Chatham said.

For more information about the tree sale or Soil and Water Conservation District programs, call (828) 264-0842 or visit the office at 971 W. King St. in Boone.