China's Conversion of Cropland to Forests Program (CCFP) is the world's largest afforestation-based Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) program, having retired and afforested over 24 million ha involving 32 million rural households. Prior research has primarily focused on the CCFP's rural welfare impacts, with few studies on program-induced environmental improvements, particularly at the household level. In this study, data from a 2010 survey covering 2808 rural households from across China was analyzed using an interval regression model to explain household-reported survival rates of trees planted on program-enrolled cropland. In addition to household-level factors, we explore the influence of local conditions and institutional configurations by exploiting the wide diversity of contexts covered by the data set. We find that households with more available labor and more forestry experience manage trees better, but that higher opportunity costs for both land and labor have the opposite effect. We also find that the local implementation regime- e.g., the degree of prior consultation with participants and regular monitoring - has a strong positive effect on reported survivorship. We suggest that the level of subsidy support to participating households will be key to survivorship of trees in planted CCFP forests for some time to come.