Oak saplings – the perfect rotation crop for Jersey Royals?

A group of farmers on Jersey are looking to make use of their island’s benign climate to help the UK government meet its ambitious targets for planting more trees.

In 2019, the UK government set a target to plant 60 million broadleaf saplings annually for the next 30 years.

However, due to issues with stock, weather, Brexit complications and the financial crisis, all planting targets have so far been missed.

See also: Trees can earn more than wheat under new planting scheme

In response, the island’s Associated Growers group has launched a new initiative, planting 188,000 acorns, of which 150,000 have now germinated – to be known as King Charles III oaks in recognition of this weekend’s coronation.

“Jersey has the land, climate, expertise and motivation to support the UK in getting back on track,” said group spokesman Robin Waymouth.

“The island lends itself as the perfect nursery, to grow millions of native broadleaf tree stocks from seed to sapling on an annual basis.”

Growing young trees for up to four years is also a perfect rotation crop for Jersey Royal potato growers, whose crops are often damaged by the eel worm – a pest that does not attack the roots of young trees, Mr Waymouth added.

“Crop rotation has many benefits including improved soil conditions, less crop damage, and pest and disease control.”

With 150,000 saplings already in production, Jersey’s Associated Growers are looking for support from an “industry giant” who would help fund the project in return for achieving significant carbon offsets, with the saplings donated to trusts, foundations and county councils on the UK mainland.

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