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In recent years increased fertilization provided to tree seedlings in the nursery in the previous autumn has been introduced in order to promote good outplanting performance. In this paper this nutrient loading has been studied in order to determine how the increased seedling nutrient status with unaffected seedling size affects both the growth and the nutrient concentration, content and uptake of two-year-old Norway spruce container seedlings (Picea abies (L.) Karsten) after outplanting. Seedling development was monitored for three years at two contrasting soil fertility levels on a sandy test field in two planting years and on one natural forest outplanting site in central Finland. Nutrient loading was shown to increase shoot and root growth in a poor fertility soil during the first growing season after planting, while, after the first growing season, nutrient loading was not found to affect seedling performance. However, although nutrient loading cannot compensate for the availability of nutrients to the seedlings from the soil, it may provide an additional input for fast plantation establishment on poorer sites during the first crucial growing season after outplanting.