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Sod scalper improves tree planting success
HATTIESBURG -- A new machine called a "sod scalper" is available to help landowners significantly increase longleaf pine seedling survival.
The scalper is a modified fire plow that removes the top 2 to 3 inches of sod and casts it aside. Longleaf pine seedlings are planted in the resulting 3-foot wide strip, which is free from competing grasses.
Glenn Hughes, forestry specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said research indicates that scalping was the best site preparation treatment for planting longleaf pine on pastures.
"Longleaf pines have been more difficult to plant than slash or loblolly pines. This is particularly true on improved pastures, where thick grasses result in poor survival rates unless the grass is removed," Hughes said. "Scalping consistently resulted in 85 percent survival rates, which is a very high rate for longleaf pine seedlings."
The sod scalper is available for $5 per acre through the Mississippi Forestry Commission District Office in Wiggins. The fee helps offset maintenance requirements. For more information or to rent the scalper, contact Jim Barnes, area forester in the Wiggins office, at (601) 928-5261.
MSU's Extension Service purchased the scalper through Title III funds provided by the Boards of Supervisors in Forrest, Greene, Harrison and Jones counties. The Bradley/Murphy Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Trust provided additional funding.