Q: I am trying to reforest some of my land. I have heard that I can buy seedlings from the agriculture department. Do you have any information about how to do this?

Answer: The North Carolina Forest Service, which is part of the N.C .Department of Agriculture, grows millions of seedlings for sale to North Carolinians for reforesting timber lands, to improve wildlife habitat, and for the other benefits which trees provide. The N.C. Forest Service has an online store for seedling sales with the inventory updated each Monday. To access the seedling sales visit www.ncforestservice.gov.

Customers can buy as few as 10 seedlings of one species or as many as several thousand seedlings of one species from the N.C. Forest Service.

The Forest Service has a limited number of container trees for sale as well. Shipping of the seedlings will begin in December. Seedlings are shipped via UPS or residents can also pick up orders from a Seedling Distribution Center. There is a Seedling Distribution Center in Lexington that serves the counties of Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Guilford, Randolph, Rockingham, Rowan, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin.

A seedling is a sprouted seed that has been grown out in a transplant bed in a nursery setting. The best time for planting bare-root seedlings is when the tree species is dormant, which is during the months when soil and air temperatures are low. The Forest Service operates seedling nurseries for the legislated purpose to “operate forest tree nurseries and seed orchards,” with products coming from them to be sold to citizens for reforestation and afforestation. The tree species offered are native forest tree seedlings of the highest quality.

Along with the assurance that native species are available that are appropriate for all geographic regions of our state, breeding work is conducted. Advanced selections are made available and are certified through the Tree Improvement Cooperative at N.C. State University, ensuring that healthy trees species are available for residents to purchase at an affordable cost. For more information about caring for and planting forest tree seedlings visit https://research.cnr.ncsu.edu/sites/woodlandstewardseries/wp-content/uploads/sites/15/2015/01/PocketGuidetoSeedlingCareandPlantingStandards.pdf.

Q: What is the date that the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services begins charging for soil testing?

Answer: The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will charge for soil testing from Dec. 1 through March 30. At other times, soil testing is free to N.C. residents. Soil test kits may be picked up at teh Forsyth Extention office,1450 Fairchild Road, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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Mary Jac Brennan is the agent for fruit and vegetable horticulture for small farms and local food for the Forsyth Cooperative Extension. Contact Mary Jac about commercial production, local foods, and sustainable agriculture questions. For information on home and gardening issues, contact the Forsyth Cooperative Extension office at maryjac_brennan@ncsu.edu or call 336-703-2850.

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