Growers Hung Out to Dry After Tree-Planting Program Cut

Millson Forestry Service is scrambling to find a buyer for 260,000 red and white pine seedlings now that the province has cancelled funding for Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Program.

Those seedlings were destined for that tree program.

Millson finds itself in the same boat as other greenhouse operators across the province who were in the midst of growing hundreds of thousands of seedlings for this program, and have now been told they are no longer needed.

“To have seedlings in the system so you have trees to plant, they are started two to three years ahead of time,” Millson explained. “So, in our greenhouses, we have trees that we started this winter and they would be scheduled to plant in three years for the program. But now that it’s cancelled, there’s no need for them.”

Millson said they are potentially facing a loss.

“There were another 200,000 seedlings that I was scheduled to seed in May that I have the materials for which have been cancelled as well. So there are material costs. Some of them have labour costs associated with them. Some of them I have been growing since February. There are heating costs associated with that and I need to know if there is somebody who is going to be able to buy the trees and use them or if I have to cut my losses now and get rid of them,” said Millson.

“There are a few of us sitting with trees and I’m not sure what’s going to happen to them. It’s a shame because that’s a lot of trees. Work has gone into them and it would be nice to see them planted as opposed to plowed under or tossed out.”

Forestry companies in the area are not likely to be in the market for red and white pine seedlings as they are not suited to the clay-like soil conditions and climate of Northern Ontario.