Comparison of Germination Rates of Pinus strobus for Two Seed Sorting Techniques at Vans Pines Nursery
Gary Van Slooten and Zhuotian Lu
Pinus strobus is a major crop species for Vans Pines Nursery. We started slowly moving conifer propagation out of field seedbeds and into Jiffy forestry pellets that are propagated inside greenhouses in 1998. As 2000 was the last year we sowed conifer seeds in field seedbeds, this placed a much greater importance on our greenhouse plug production. Because greenhouse space is expensive when compared to field space, we quickly realized that greenhouse propagation cost were inversely proportional to seed lot germination rates. Higher germination allowed for more efficient use of greenhouse space thus lower plug production cost.
The problem is conifer seeds have poor germination rates. To overcome this, many plug growers like us, multiple sow 2- to 5 seeds in each cell then a few weeks later go back through and thin the crop to one tree per cell. While this solves the problem of efficient use of greenhouse space, it creates additional labor expense for thinning and wastes a lot of
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