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Tree Planting Statistics for the United States


bare-root seedling



The United States Forest Service prepares a report every 10 years on tree planting, timber stand improvement, and nursery production activities across all ownerships of forest land in the United States. I want to review highlights published in their 2000 summary.

Question: How many acres of trees are planted annually in the United States?

Answer: Tree planting on all ownerships total approximately two and a half million acres annually. This annual planting roughly equals the size of the State of Connecticut. Compare this annual planting to 2.3 million acres of trees planted under the ten year Civilian Conservation Corps tree planting program (mid-1930's to mid-1940's) and to 2.2 million acres under the entire Soil Bank Program (1956 to 1961).

Question: How many trees are grown in U.S. nurseries each year?

Answer: Approximately one and a half billion trees are produced and shipped by forest tree nurseries annually. Forest product nurseries produced 55% of the tree seedlings, private nurseries produced 22%, state nurseries produced 21%, and federal nurseries produced 2% during the 1990s.

Question: When were trees first planted?

Answer: The first records of tree planting in the United States were collected in 1930 and showed an annual planting of 138,970 acres. The most acreage planted in any single year came in 1988 when nearly 3.4 million acres were planted. This was at the peak of the federal Conservation Reserve Program.

Question: Who plants the most acreage in trees each year?

Answer: Forest industry plants 45%, non-industrial private owners plant 42%, the National Forest System plants 6%, other government and industries plant 7%.

Question: What state plants the most trees?

Answer: Alabama reported the largest annual tree planting of any state in the nation with a record of nearly one half million acres in a single year. The top five planting states were Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, and South Carolina. Massachusetts reported the least with only 7,000 acres planted.

Question: What state produces the most nursery seedlings?

Answer: Georgia's tree nurseries produced over 250 million trees each year through the 1990s and grew the most seedlings. Nearly 79% of all tree production in the United States occurs in the South. Western nurseries produce 17% and Northern nurseries produce 4% of total U.S. tree production.

Further Reading:

Tree Planter's Notes and Other Pubs
Published information on tree planting, seedlings, and regeneration. Also includes Tree Planters' Notes, the report this feature is based on.

Facts and Guidelines on Planting Trees
A good tree planting resource from your About Guide to Forestry

Ten Commandments for Tree Planting
Things you should and should not do when planting trees from your About Guide to Forestry.

Tree Planting Questions and Answers
Favorite tree planting links from your About Guide to Forestry.

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