a tip for planting a lot of seedling trees and shrubs in heavy clay

willy

5 year old buck +
I am planting 1450 trees and shrubs next week in a crp project. The nrcs office gave me instructions that I had to rototill the rows for planting to make a better planting bed. I rented one and tilled last November. In my opinion one can't get it deep enough to what it should be for best results. So I checked out craigslist and found a one bottom plow. In December, I went back and plowed one way in the middle of the tilled area and then back the same way I came, over the plowed area.

I then plowed some areas the same way as above where I was going to plant some screens of cedar and miscanthus.

I transplanted cedars this past weekend and it was the easiest planting I have done on this farm. I wish I would have done this for the thousands I have planted in the past 10 years. The heavy clay, when I normally dug holes to plant was tough to dig and would stick together in chunks. It was just basically tough to break down to get air pockets out without smashing soil on the roots and compacted the soil in the process. The complete opposite was the experience this time. The freezing and thawing process made the soil crumble and I could put the spade into the ground with just my hands.

Next week my trees and shrubs come and I am using a 3pt tree planter for them and have high expectations for how it's going to go.
 

Bill

Administrator
Sounds like my soil. Stick a 5lb shovel in and it will weigh 35 lbs on the way out..
 

Headdigger

A good 3 year old buck
Another easy way is to disk up the row in order to kill the weeds and grass, then run down the middle of the row with a one tine subsoiler.
 

willy

5 year old buck +
Amen Bill.
 

bigeight

5 year old buck +
Very interested to see your experience with the 3 pt. After tilling/flipping. I had a bad experience last year in heavy clay with one. Bad conditions with dry clay. I blamed it on it being flipped because the chunks wouldn't seal good after the planter sliced and wheels tried to seal the slit. Lot of air gaps. I am interested to see if it was the dry conditions, or the flipping prior? Or we just plain had everything messed up! Hope you have it figured out and make short work of a successful project !
 

willy

5 year old buck +
Thanks for the heads up big8, I'll be sure to get back here to give results
 

bigeight

5 year old buck +
How did your project pan out ?
 

Turkey Creek

5 year old buck +
We planted Christmas trees last year into a sticky, wet, clod filled miserable rows. We broke the sod just prior to planting and the planting was downright miserable. This past summer we ran the tiller down this years planting rows every time the weeds started to get green enough to obscure the soil. Followed by a subsoiler/ ripper blade in late summer. We left the rows to mellow over the winter, and then one final pass just prior to planting this spring. Complete difference between the two years. This year was almost pleasurable to plant ..... well its still alot of work but much easier on bodies that are not young anymore. Need to find a way to run the subsoiler a bit deeper, or get a new shank, we had a couple inches of compacted soil that needed to be removed to get to the depth we wanted when we dug the holes. You let that 2020 soil dry at all and those clods were like rocks. 2021 was like a soft cushion. Those pictures are within a few feet of each other in the same field just a year apart. 2020 was a bit drier than 2019 but the soil was damp enough to not require us to water the trees in after planting.

2020
IMG_3221.jpg

2021
IMG_3468.jpg
 
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