In 1907, Alfred Gaskill, New Jersey’s first State Forester, established the New Jersey State Forest Nursery at Bass River Reserve as one of his first directives. By September 1907, the nursery contained 24,300 seedlings of jack pine, western yellow pine, Scotch pine and locust. A new nursery was established in another part of the Bass River Reserve in the spring of 1908. It consisted of thirty-six beds, each 4 by 24 feet, on a tract of loamy sand.
In 1926, the nursery moved seedling operations to two locations, Greenbank State Forest and Washington Crossing State Park. Each nursery produced six million evergreen seedlings annually and was staffed by two nursery superintendents, three permanent nursery helpers, and 30 to 40 laborers. The staff cultivated a total of 32 acres, raising 10 different species.
Tree species raised by the State Nursery in 1926
30% White Pine
20% Red Pine
20% Shortleaf Pine
10% Norway Spruce
7% Scotch Pine
5% Pitch Pine
3% Loblolly Pine
2% Southern White Cedar
1% Other species
In 1981, the nursery was moved again to a property in Jackson. NJ Fish and Game previously used the property as a quail farm where they raised and distributed approximately six million quail. At one time it was the largest quail production farm in the world.
The NJ Forest Nursery- Jackson
The Jackson nursery produces seedlings on ten acres in two fields. Staff also grows seedlings in the nursery’s two greenhouses and a hoop house. To help support production, the site also has an office, seedling grading building with a large seedling storage cooler, shop and other storage buildings. The nursery is situated on an 875 acre site that is shared with the Forest Resource Education Center.
The nursery distributes over 300,000 seedlings annually to landowners in NJ for forestation and conservation projects. All of the seedlings are one or two years old and range in size from 6-24”. The nursery grows 30-40 native species of shrubs, hardwoods and conifers.
The nursery distributes the bare root seedlings from mid-March through April with a 100 seedling minimum for each species.
Trees for 3rd Graders
The nursery sponsors the NJ Third Grade Seedling Program where every third grader in the state is entitled to a free seedling when requested by a teacher or class representative.
Since 1996, the nursery has produced tube seedlings. The nursery grows over 60,000 tube seedlings in the greenhouse annually. The 8” x 1 ¼” tubes are available in 5-8 different species. Most of the tube seedlings are for Arbor Day, Earth Day, school and other educational programs.
Most of the seed used to grow the seedlings at the nursery is collected locally in Central New Jersey. The nursery has “seed orchards” which are genetically improved for four conifer species which include shortleaf pine, loblolly pine, pitch pine and pitch-loblolly hybrid pine.
The nursery cooperates with the USDA Forest Service National Seed Laboratory to bank a genetic germplasm from native New Jersey species of ash and hemlock because of the potential die off of a large percentage of these species due to the emerald ash borer and the hemlock wooly adelgid.
The American Chestnut Foundation has a test plot at the nursery to research blight resistant varieties of the American chestnut.
Visit www.forestnursery.org for more information about the New Jersey State Forest Nursery.
370 East Veterans Hwy
Jackson, New Jersey 08527