Northwest Illinois Forestry AssociationWoodland owners sharing ideas on forest productivity

Direct Seeding



Seeding has several advantages. The seed can be broadcast, so the area will have a more natural appearance. More trees per acre can be established with seed, so the site will be captured by tree growth sooner. This minimizes the amount of mowing and herbicide that is needed for maintenance.

Seed Collection and Handling Species like black walnut, white oak, northern red oak, ash, and maple drop their seed in the fall and should be collected immediately after seed drop. Walnuts can be sewn with their husks on. If they are husked, keep the nuts moist or they will loose their viability. Large piles of green walnuts will heat up. Therefore, keep the piles relatively small to help dissipate any heat. Acorns lose their viability if they become dehydrated. Therefore, collect the acorns in bags soon after they fall off the trees. One standard feed bag will hold approximately two bushels. Feed bags will allow the seed to breathe and permit excess moisture to drain out. Immediately after collection, immerse the acorns in water for 24 hours, then place the soaked acorns in a cool, dark place until planting. Immersion re-hydrates the seed for better germination. Ash and maple seed should be air-dried (with no heat) and stored in a cool place until sewn.

Site Preparation

Mow the area to be sewn in August and broadcast-spray Round-UpÂȘ in September to kill any grass. After the grass has died, plow and disk the area to prepare a good seed bed. The field should look ready to plant corn.

Seeding Rates

The following amounts are recommended for green, uncleaned seeds - collected from the ground or directly off the tree.

Species Bushels/Acre

Green or White Ash 1
Northern Red Oak 2
White Oak 2
Black Walnut 10

Seeding Steps

The following steps are suggested:

1. Broadcast the walnut and oak seed over the entire area. Disk the seed into the ground so that the majority is buried 1 inch deep.

2. Broadcast the ash seed and lightly harrow the area. Ash seed should be buried approximately 1/4 inch deep.

3. Roll the entire field with a cultipacker so that all of the seed is firmly packed in.

4. Next spring, before any green growth  appears, broadcast spray the area with Pendulum herbicide.  Apply 2 quarts of Pendulum per acre. The following spring apply 3 quarts of Pendulum plus 2 quarts of Princep-4L per acre. The Princep will help to control the broadleaf weeds.

5. If broadleaf weeds become a problem during the first year, mow the area high, so that you are mowing above seedling height.

Additional Information

Further information can be obtained from your IDNR district forester or from the NRCS Direct Seeding website.


For questions, inquiries, or membership applications:

Mail: NIFA, 2303 West Cording Road, Galena, IL  61036

Email: info@nifatrees.org

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