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Kansas Forest Service

Kansas Forest Service
2610 Claflin Road
Manhattan, KS 66502

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Conservation FAQ

If you have a question about the Kansas Conservation Tree Planting Program or how we do things, this is the place to find an answer. Some of the most frequently asked questions and their answers are found below. If you have additional questions, please contact us.

Who may purchase items?

Items offered through the Kansas Conservation Tree Planting Program MAY NOT BE USED FOR LANDSCAPING OR RESOLD FOR LANDSCAPING PURPOSES.Anyone wanting to plant for windbreaks, woodlots, songbird or other wildlife habitat, erosion control, riparian filter strips, Christmas tree farms, or similar, may purchase these items. There are no restrictions on the purchaser such as in-town versus rural, in-state versus out-of-state, or landowner versus tenant. Governmental agencies may use the plants for any purpose deemed necessary, such as providing plants to students on Arbor Day, as door prizes, or recognition. We do not solicit out-of-state orders, but we will ship out-of-state if requested to do so.

What is the shipping schedule?

Spring orders are generally shipped the second week of March through the first week of May, depending on weather conditions. We try not to ship plants when conditions are unfavorable for transport or planting. All orders are shipped by United Parcel Service (UPS) to the purchaser's address. Each order has a minimum shipping charge of $15.

If you elected to pick up your spring order, you may do so from early March through the first Monday in May. Please call before coming to be sure that the items you ordered are on hand. You may pick up your order anytime Monday through Friday, 8:00-11:30 am and 1:00-4:30 pm. Please note each order for pick up has a $5 minimum handling charge.

Why is there a shipping and handling charge if I pick my order up myself?


The shipping and handling charge helps us recover the cost of boxes, packing material and labor associated with the conservation seedling program.

What is our guarantee to you?


All sales are final. No guarantee of survival after shipment or delivery is made. The plants are guaranteed to be the species and quantities ordered, fresh, and capable of growing. Claims must be made within 7 days of receiving the plants. No refunds less than $5. The Kansas Forest Service does not warranty the survival of the plants and is not responsible for economic loss by the customer.

Where are the seedlings from ?

All of the container-grown seedlings offered through the Kansas Conservation Tree Planting Program are grown in a greenhouse near the Kansas Forest Service's state office in Manhattan, KS. The origins of selected species source seed has been targeted to ensure desirable characteristics, such as form, color, and resistance to disease.

Bare-root seedlings are purchased from various state, federal and private nurseries.

Please be assured only the best seed and seedling sources are used in the Kansas Conservation Tree Planting Program. If you are unhappy with your order, you may be covered under our guarantee.

How are seedlings grown?

All of the container-grown seedlings offered through the Kansas Conservation Tree Planting Program are grown in a greenhouse near the Kansas Forest Service's state office in Manhattan, KS. The origins of selected species source seed has been targeted to ensure desirable characteristics, such as.The Kansas Conservation Tree Planting Program offers plantings of two types: bare-root seedlings and container-grown seedlings. Stratified seed is also available for selected species. Below you will find descriptions of each of these growing techniques along with their advantages and disadvantages.

Bare-Root Seedlings

Bare-root seedlings are grown in the field and are about 12-16 inches in height. In the digging process some of the roots are lost. Although it takes slightly longer to establish themselves, when conditions are conducive to planting, bare-root plants still have good survival rates. Bare-root plants are dormant when you receive them.

Container-Grown Seedlings

Container-grown seedlings are grown in individual containers which measure 1½ inches wide and 8 inches deep. Each seedling is about 12-16 inches in height. Container-grown seedlings have an intact root system and come to you in the original container in which they grew from seed. The roots are actively growing when you receive them.

Container-grown seedlings are started in a greenhouse where temperature, humidity, light, carbon dioxide and nutrients are carefully controlled. When seedlings are removed from the container, the roots hold the soil in a plug. The seedling roots and soil remain undisturbed when planted, assuring that growth will be nearly uninterrupted.

The advantages of container-grown seedlings when compared to bare-root seedlings are listed below.

  1. Improved survival and first year rate of growth under most conditions
  2. Usually get a one year jump in growth
  3. Extended spring planting season
  4. Greater flexibility in scheduling tree planting around soil and weather conditions and work schedule
  5. Easier to plant properly

Stratified Seed

Stratified seed and bare-root seedlings are from the same seed source. The difference between them is that stratified seeds are actual seeds while bare-root seedlings are one year old plants grown from seed.

Some seed must be treated to encourage germination because they are immature or have hard seed coats when they fall off the tree. The term "stratified" refers to the treatment process of alternating layers of seed and soil or moist peat moss and then being stored in a cool area, about 40°F, for a specific period of time. After treatment approximately 60% of the seed will germinate. To compensate for this level of germination, we plant 2 to 3 seeds per location.

Stratified seeds are often pilfered by squirrels and other wildlife and they may do serious damage to the seed before they germinate. One way to protect seed from squirrels is to plant them in a modified tin can. Stratified seeds are easier and cheaper to plant, however, success of seedlings are much more predictable. If the seed does germinate, by the end of the first season the resulting seedlings are usually the same size as seedlings planted at the same time.

How big are seedlings?

Each seedling sold through the Kansas Conservation Tree Planting Program varies from species to species. Typical heights of seedlings range from 5 inches to 18 inches. Average age of seedlings are 1 or 2 years old.

Where is the source seed from?

Selected plant species offered through the Kansas Conservation Tree Planting Program are grown from particular source seed. The selected sources result in plantings with desirable characteristics, such as resistance to disease, better form, increased growth, and greater seed production. Below are some of the selected plant species along with the location of their source seed.

  • Austrian pine - Yugoslavia (also known as Bosnia or Serbia) is the preferred seed source for Austrian pine due to its resistance to Dothistroma needle blight. We intend to offer only the Yugoslavia source in the future if we can obtain sufficient seed.
  • Black walnut - Black walnut seed (both for use as stratified seed and production of seedlings) is collected primarily from northeastern Kansas.
  • Eastern redcedar - Eastern redcedar seed is collected from northern Kansas to southern South Dakota. This source has proven to be superior for use in Kansas.
  • Eastern white pine - We use the Southern Appalachian seed source for Eastern white pine for its form and winter color.
  • Fragrant sumac - We use the USDA Plant Material Center’s release known as "Konza sumac" which was selected for its vigorous growth and heavy seed production.
  • Pecan - Pecan seed (for use as stratified seed and production of seedlings) is collected from a mix of Southeast Kansas preferred sources grown at the Chetopa Pecan Field provided by the Director of the Chetopa Pecan Field.
  • Ponderosa pine - We use the Valentine, Nebraska seed source for Ponderosa pine due to its resistance to Dothistroma needle blight and tolerance to pine tip moth.
What is stratified seed?

The embryo of many tree and shrub seed is immature when the seed falls off of the tree. They require a period in a moist, cool environment to develop to the point where they can germinate, a procedure called stratification. This stratification procedure has been applied to the Black walnut and Pecan seed.

Nurserymen usually plant such seed in the fall. If they have adequate moisture and are not disturbed by wildlife, they usually germinate the next spring and grow very well. Some seed may lay in the soil dormant until the following year.

The Stratification Procedure

Remove the husk from the seed soon after they fall from the tree. Soak the seed in water for about 24 hours and then place the seed in a moist medium, such as sand, peat moss, or in a plastic bag. Store each particular species of seed at 33 to 41° F for the time shown below. Once this time has elapsed, the seed is ready to plant.

If the stratification procedure is done outdoors, start in mid April - by the time the seeds germinate, the danger of frost will be over. It is important not to let the seeds get too dry prior to the stratification procedure or during the procedure. If the seeds do get too dry during the procedure, you may have to start over.

The stratification procedure for each of the species below should last the specified length of time.

  • Black walnut - 120 days
  • Bur oak - 60 days
  • Pecan - 90 days
  • Northern red oak - 45 days
  • Eastern redcedar - 30 days at room temperature AND 90 days at 33 to 41° F
Are there special needs for Bur Oak, Peking Cotoneaster, Hackberry, Honeylocust, or Eastern Redbud?


Some plants benefit with storage at higher temperatures. Strong drying winds may desiccate tree tissue, and the buds may fail to break. Some species overcome this problem by being "sweated". Keep the top and root covered with moist sawdust, hay, or such at room temperature. Once buds swell, ready to pop into growth, planting should proceed. Some species with which sweating is helpful are:

  • Bur oak
  • Peking cotoneaster
  • Green ash
  • Hackberry
  • Honeylocust
  • Eastern redbud
If you have a question that was not answered by the responses above, please feel free to use our toll-free number (888-740-8733) to obtain more information regarding the Conservation Tree Planting Program.