16 December 2022

The nursery where nurturing nine million seedlings is all in a day's work

| Edwina Mason
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Bound for bigger things, over the past 23 years, Forestry Corporation’s Blowering nursery has seen over 165 million containerised radiata pine seedlings pass through its gates. Photo: Forestry Corporation of NSW.

There’s one spot near Tumut that knows for certain that from little things, big things grow, and now there are nine million reasons particular diligence is needed.

The Forestry Corporation of NSW has reported their 2023 seedling crop is well and truly underway with the seeds that will grow nine million radiata pine (Pinus radiata) sown in the organisation’s Blowering nursery.

Over the past eight weeks, nursery staff have sown around 320,000 seeds a day to supply around 70 per cent of the 2023 radiata pine planting program across NSW.

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Forestry Corporation plantation improvement manager Phil Green said the process started in September and moved through cycles of seed stratification, sowing, crop tending, topping, consolidation and ultimately dispatch in the winter months between May and September.

“All up, 400 kilograms of seed were sown at Blowering nursery this year for the 2023 forestry planting program,” Mr Green said.

Over the coming year, the crop will be carefully hand-weeded, fertilised, nurtured and watered to produce seedlings in time for planting next winter.

“Our nursery staff will also regularly sample the stem diameter, height and nutrient status of seedlings throughout the nursery before being individually assessed to make sure they meet our high standards,” Mr Green said.

He said the seedlings they plant at Blowering nursery today will grow into the trees that are used in paper, packaging, new houses, home extensions and backyard fences when the plantations are harvested 15 to 35 years from now.

“The ongoing plantation cycle means the community has access to renewable forestry resources for decades to come,” he said.

“It is exciting to see it start with one tiny seed,” Mr Green said.

Over the past 23 years, Blowering nursery has seen over 165 million containerised seedlings pass through its gates.

Pictured on the last day of sowing are team members (back, left to right) Peter Worldon, Courtney Thatcher, Tony Bowden, Lachlan Anderson, Winston Collins and Vince Wood and (front, left to right) Justin Shanahan, Lucy Jeffery and Stephanie Hibbens. Photo: Forestry Corporation NSW.

The nursery was constructed in 1996, with the first crop harvested in 1997.

Originally used to produce in-ground, bare-root seedlings and cuttings, with a capacity crop of 10 million per year, the in-ground seedling production was phased out to make way for the new and more reliable container facility which now holds around nine million container-grown seedlings.

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Following the brutal 2019-2020 Black Summer bushfires seedling production nurseries were upgraded to expand planting capabilities with a view to generating 14 million seedlings each year over seven years to restock all the fire-affected plantations across NSW.

Forestry Corporation is the largest producer of plantation-grown radiata pine in Australia, managing more than 240,000 hectares of plantations around the state and producing more than 3.5 million tonnes of timber each year.

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