The Tree Steward

Glenn McLeod is an expert on seeding trees for reforestation. At our meeting he spoke on three topics: the Northumberland Stewardship Council, Seed Zones/Seed Saving and Tree Growth.

The MNR builds its nurseries on sandy soil to allow for early spring digging for transplanting. The Oakridges Moraine is perfect. In 2014 over 1 million tree seedlings were planted for reforestation and stream management. But after decades of care,
the spring of 2015 saw the closure of the Northumberland Stewardship by the government and four members, including Glenn, started the Northumberland Tree Planters, using the same custom machinery for their new business.

Glenn explained to us the genetics of a tree species varies between individuals. Unlike soybeans or corn, a pine that grows naturally in Temagami has adapted and will grow differently than one from Niagara, even though they are the same species. They have adapted to the differences in photoperiodicity and length of growing seasons. If you grow seeds from Niagara and plant the seedling in Temagami, the inherent qualities and tree growth cycles will not change to fit the new climate and the plant will not prosper. So the nursery must collect seed from the area of Ontario where the seedlings will eventually be planted.

Working with the annual cycle of a tree is important to its success.

In early spring the roots are busy (maple syrup starts running), then the tree breaks its dormancy (good time to transplant), buds break, shoots lengthen, needles lengthen (to mid summer), bud set, stem thickening, root growth (transplant before this stage), then dormancy.

It was a very informative talk and a lively discussion followed.


Photo by Suzi Gabany

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