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Kansas Forest Service

Kansas Forest Service
2610 Claflin Road
Manhattan, KS 66502

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Conservation Tree 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 our office!

Who may purchase items?

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. Items offered through the Kansas Conservation Tree Planting Program MAY NOT BE USED FOR LANDSCAPING OR RESOLD FOR LIVE PLANTS. There are no restrictions on the purchaser such as urban 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. Below is the recommended use area and states that restrict containerized plants during certain times of the year.

Conservation Tree Shipping Map

What is the shipping schedule?

Spring Shipping Schedule:

The Spring distribution offers both bare root and container-grown seedlings for sale. Orders are accepted from. 1st Monday of December through May 1st. Orders are shipped or picked up beginning in Mid-March.

Fall Shipping Schedule:

The Fall distribution offers only container-grown seedlings and orders are accepted from the first Tuesday of September through October 15th. Shipping usually occurs within one day of receiving the order during Fall distribution.

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.

Can I pick up my order?

Yes, if you elected to pick up your spring order, you may do so from early March through the first week in May. Please call 24 hours in advance before coming to be sure that the items you ordered are on hand. For spring orders, Friday is the only day for pickups, fall orders can be picked up Monday-Friday 8:30-11:30 am and 1:00-4:30 pm.


Do my orders come with a warranty?

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.

How are seedlings grown?

All of the container-grown seedlings offered through the Kansas Conservation Tree Planting Program (KCTPP) are grown in a greenhouse near the Kansas Forest Service's state office in Manhattan, KS. Seed used for containerized production has been purchased or collected from regionally appropriate sources. The KCTPP 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 8-18 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. Bare-root seedlings are purchased from various state, federal and private nurseries.

Container-Grown Seedlings

Container-grown seedlings are grown in individual containers which measure 2"x7" for conifers and 2"x10" for all deciduous seedlings. 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

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.

Where is the seed source from?

When possible, seed used in the containerized seedling production is collected from sites within the state. Seed is purchased from commercial sources when collection is not possible or feasible. Bareroot seedlings are grown from seed sources that vary from nursery to nursery, but is typically sourced from bordering states. A few examples of containerized seed sources are listed below. 
  • Black walnut - Black walnut seed (both for use as stratified seed and production of seedlings) is collected primarily from northeastern 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 or from native pecan stands in Southeast Kansas.
  • Ponderosa pine - We use the Valentine seed source for Ponderosa pine for its resistance to Dothistroma needle blight and tolerance to pine tip moth.
  • White oak- Recently, successful collections have been made in Atchison Co. of Quercus alba, in perhaps one of the westernmost stands of native white oak. 
  • Pawpaw- Fruit is collected from native groves in Douglas Co. and processed at KFS prior to stratification. 

What is stratified seed?

As a means of deteriorating a thick seed coat, or facilitating the maturation of an immature embryo, many woody plant seeds require a period of 'stratification' before they can successfully germinate. Such a process requires soaking of the seed and an extended period of cool or warm storage. Such a procedure is used on the stratified black walnut and pecan seed sold in the spring, and is described in part below.

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 stratified seed is to be used, plant by 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.

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

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. Be sure to check out our Care and Tips page for more information.