Pine seedlings in demand

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By AMANDA BOWES

Pine seedlings have been in short supply this year as nurseries have taken a conservative approach to the numbers they have grown.

Rangiora Nursery is one major grower whose supply hasn’t been able to keep up with the demand for bare root seedlings.

Managing Director Derrick Parry says nursery growers have been growing conservatively for the past few years after uncertainty in the market.

Rangiora Nursery sold 3,000,000 one year old pine seedlings this season and this year they will grow around 5,000,000 to contract for next year’s planting.

A few years ago half the seedlings grown were mulched back into the ground as demand for pines fell, making for a heavy financial loss.

So now rather than grow seedlings speculatively, Mr Parry says they now grow to order and orders for next year have lifted.

Mr Parry says there are several reasons for the increase in demand, the main one being the Governments Forestation Grant Scheme, which can see growers receive $1300/hectare (around the cost to plant). Carbon credits are taken by the Government for 10 years and after that they become they belong to the grower.

“This sort of deal makes forestry an attractive option.”

With carbon credits sitting at around $18 there is good incentive for forestry.

Another reason for the increase in demand has been farmers felling forestry blocks for some much needed cash flow during times of drought and low pay outs.

With main stream forestry relatively strong and timber prices remaining strong for a significant time, large forestry plantations are being re-planted.

Rangiora Nursery grows their seedlings from both seed and cuttings. The cuttings are genetically superior and have their traits selected, just like any sheep or beef farmer, says Derrick.

This is a major factor for forestry as the big timber growers want to know they are getting the best trees for future harvest. The seed grown pines are fine for private planting but their genetics are slightly lower in traits than the cuttings.

Derrick says they will grow around 3,000,000 from seeds and 2,000,000 from cuttings for next year.

While the majority is pine, they also grow around 200,000 Douglas Firs.

For anyone wanting bare root pine seedlings for next year, whether they are for shelter belts or plantations, putting in an order will guarantee supply, otherwise, like this year, they will likely miss out.