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Tree Seedlings

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The mission of the Reforestation Unit is to provide quality, affordable seedlings (genetically improved where feasible) to Tennessee landowners and to optimize genetic improvements to increase the productivity of the state's forest resource.

Seedlings are grown at our East Tennessee Nursery in Delano, Tennessee.

Economic Benefits

Seedlings grown by the Division of Forestry help supply the raw materials needed to support Tennessee's forest products industry that in 2015 represented a $24.3 billion dollar economic engine providing over 101,000 jobs across the state. In 2010, 4.6 million pine seedlings and 1.5 million hardwood seedlings were grown, representing over 14,000 acres in tree planting. The vast majority of the pine seedlings will be planted for fiber and timber production. The value to landowners of these pine plantings (11,000 acres) when mature is conservatively estimated to be over $22 million in current dollars. Most of the hardwood plantings (3,400 acres) will be tailored to provide environmental benefits; most important being streamside buffers and wildlife habitat. Additionally, over $1 million is estimated to have been paid to tree planting and other forestry services vendors in establishing these plantings.

Much of the economic activity generated through the Division of Forestry's reforestation program occurs in Tennessee's rural landscape, providing much needed jobs and revenue. From a timber perspective, landowners that plant Division of Forestry pine seedlings today receive a 25% gain in productivity as compared to seedlings available 30 years ago. 

Environmental Benefits

Forests also provide other "non-traditional" benefits, including water quality and quantity protection, habitat for wildlife, habitat for rare and endangered plants and animals, opportunities for recreation, aesthetics, carbon sequestration, and open spaces.

Watersheds especially depend on healthy forests and riparian buffers for quality water yield. The Division is currently implementing strategies to identify landowners who, through planting forested riparian buffers,
will ensure these watersheds continue to produce clean, abundant water for public use. The Reforestation Program is uniquely positioned to produce the genetically improved seed and seedlings specifically tailored to allow efficient and effective tree planting practices associated with implementing these strategies.

Seedling Nursery

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The Division of Forestry's seedling nursery, located in Delano, TN, produces forest seedlings that are available for sale to landowners. These seedlings are adapted to growing conditions found in Tennessee and are used primarily for reforestation and forest conservation projects. Approximately one-half of the 80 acres available for seedling production at the nursery are used for this purpose each year. The remaining seedbed area is planted in cover crops each year to ensure the long-term productivity of the nursery soil. 

Picture of southern state area where seedlings originate

The seed used to produce the annual crop of tree and shrub seedlings is either purchased from commercial seed vendors or collected by Division of Forestry personnel from seed orchards and seed production areas or from wild stands. Regardless of the source, all the seed used is selected to produce seedlings that will perform well under the growing conditions commonly found in Tennessee. Nearly all seed originates from the area bordered in red on the map below: 

To order seedlings:

For a list of available seedlings, click here.

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