Guidelines for securing and planting upland oak seedlings in the Southern Region
In this report, we provide guidelines and administrative procedures to conduct artifical regeneration activities for upland oak (Quercus) species. The information provided is intended to assist silviculturists in the Southern Region (Region 8) of the Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, but many of the management guidelines, specifically the sections "Collecting Your Own Acorns" and "Planting Upland Oak Seedlings" could be applied by forest managers outside of the Southern Region. The overall goal of artificial regeneration is to increase the density of advanced oak reproduction at the time of overstory removal, which is particularly important in forests where oak is difficult to regenerate due to the lack of existing seed sources or the inability to foster the development of existing regeneration into larger size classes. The Southern Region has the oldest northern red oak (Q. rubra) seed orchard in the country, but seed production varies from year to year. White oak (Q. alba) orchards are not yet in full production. Planting activities must be planned at least 1.5 years in advance to take advantage of years with abundant acorn crops, which can be difficult to time with harvesting activities. Through decades of cooperative partnerships, nursery procedures have been developed to grow and identify high-quality oak seedlings that have a better chance of competing with shade-intolerant species. Planting success will improve with competition control and herbivore protection in forests with high deer density. Site selection is important as site productivity is negatively correlated to oak’s competitive ability, but planting on poor-quality sites (less than 70 site index) is usually not necessary unless oak regeneration is completely absent (e.g., conversion of pine plantations to oak forests). Artificial regeneration of upland oak species requires thoughtful planning and adaptive management that includes the use of genetically diverse, high-quality seedlings planted on appropriate sites that can be monitored and managed through the stem-exclusion stage of stand development.