Today’s Topic: Bumper seed crop ensures future trees

by | Dec 2, 2014


Southern Farm Network logoAgriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”

Oak acorns are planted at the N.C. Forest Service Nursery.

This year was a bumper crop for tree seed, including these overcup oak acorns, being planted at a N.C. Forest Service nursery.

In the afterglow of Thanksgiving, your refrigerator or freezer may be overflowing with leftovers from the feast. But turkey and dressing aren’t the only things that were put into cold storage lately. Seeds from trees across the state have hit the ground in record amounts this fall. And squirrels weren’t the only ones looking for it.  After collecting from the bumper crop, the N.C. Forest Service was able to cold-store tree seeds for use in years to come.

Each year, N.C. Forest Service staff members collect the seed used to grow more than 50 species of tree seedlings for the agency’s nursery program. These native seedlings are then sold to landowners at low cost for a variety of purposes, such as reforestation, wetlands mitigation, aesthetic improvement and wildlife habitat creation.

“While trees make some seed almost every year, a crop of this size only occurs about every four or five years,” says James West, head of the NCFS Nursery and Tree Improvement Program. “Things have to be just right when it comes to rain, temperatures and wind events. If one of those parameters is off, the seed yield is lower.”

This fall has proven to be a bumper crop year for most species across the state, West says. The weather conditions for the last two years have been favorable for trees to produce seed such as acorns, drupes and cones. In some species, seed production can take two years to complete.

This year’s heavy seed crop has enabled the nursery staff to process seeds from many species and prepare them for long-term storage. This will ensure that seedlings will be available to North Carolina landowners in future years when tree seed may not be as plentiful.

Landowners interested in planting trees this winter or spring may order their seedlings by calling 1-888-NCTREES or visiting

Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda discuss the crop of tree seed and learn more about the N.C. Forest Service’s nursery program.

[Audio:|titles=Today’s Topic for Dec. 2]

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