We scrambled in between bouts of cold weather and heavy downpours to get the Christmas tree crop planted a
couple of weeks ago. They have since been slogged with several inches of rain that are keeping farmers out of fields in the northern half of the state.
While there were a few wet spots, the fields were in pretty good shape for planting.
We planted more than 2,000 Canaan fir trees and 100 white pine, 100 Concolor fir and 100 Scotch pine trees this year. In the past, we have typically hand planted all of our trees, using a six-inch auger to make the holes. This is a huge amount of physical labor (and I am not as young as I used to be).
This year, we planted the first 1,200 or so trees in the open field with a two-man riding planter in around 3 hours. If we are really pushing with hand planting we can plant around 200 an hour with a crew of 6 or 8 people. Obviously, the riding planter made a huge difference. The rest of the trees had to be planted by hand though, because we were replacing trees that died in the devastating drought the wiped out the vast majority of trees planted last year.
In the field we just planted, we seeded a Dutch white clover cover crop that suppresses weeds and is much easier to manage. The clover was seeded two years ago and has filled in nicely. Hopefully it pays off for easier weed
control this summer and fall. It also helps hold moisture in the soil.
As always, tree planting is a family activity and the children all get to help. My three-year-old son was a great assistant. He helped my dad trim the roots that were too long and put the trees in the holes after they were augered. He even put the roots down in the hole first, most of the time. We also got assistance from my daughter and niece.
Hopefully we can get more consistent moisture this year for the young trees to thrive after what was a very challenging 2012 growing season.