University of Tennessee Tree Research

The National Wild Turkey Federation supported reforestation efforts in Tennessee and assisted the University of Tennessee with ongoing research.

Funds provided by the NWTF are helping increase the survival rate and growth of white oak and water oak seedlings grown at the East Tennessee State Nursery. Many of the seedlings originated from UT-developed orchards.

Seedlings from UT orchards are particularly desirable because they come from “genetic tests where we have thinned the slow growers, non-seed producers and poorly formed trees, leaving the best,” said Scott Schlarbaum, professor and director of UT’s tree improvement program.

By helping fund orchard development and, thereby, better seedlings, the NWTF is contributing in cutting costs for reforestation efforts, as poor seedlings would have resulted in loss of investment.

“We have three orchard centers –– the Margaret Finley Shackelford Orchards, which serve west Tennessee, the Jack Daniel Distillery Orchards to serve middle Tennessee and a more spread-out system of orchards that serve eastern Tennessee,” Schlarbaum said. “The orchards are constructed to provide locally adapted, genetically improved seed for the region in Tennessee that they are located in.”  

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture uses the high-quality seedlings developed by UT for reforestation and wildlife management across the state.

This project in particular contributed to the distribution of 40,400 white oak seedlings and 59,000 water oak seedlings for general reforestation in 2019.

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