Bare Root to Bare Root- Coming Full Circle

By Bonnie Appleton and Jim Flott
Blacksburg, VA (January 1, 2009)- If the production, harvest, shipping, and planting of trees for landscape use is looked at historically, our industry didn’t start with root balls packaged in burlap, rope, and wire, or in containers of varying sizes, shapes, and colors. It started with bare root fruit trees sold by itinerant salesmen. Today a perceived epidemic of tree decline exists in the United States, with an estimated 80 percent of all landscape tree problems originating below ground and relating to quality and placement of the root system.

Structural root defects and root planting depth issues can occur during all stages of tree production and establishment including nursery propagation and production, landscape specification development and planting, and post-planting and transplanting maintenance. A proposed technique for revealing tree roots prior to finishing the planting or transplanting process, so that root defects can be seen and if possible, corrected, and planting height can be properly adjusted, is bare rooting.
Bare root planting of landscape caliper-sized trees has both advantages and disadvantages compared to planting intact field or container-grown root balls per current industry standards, but bare root planting is the planting technique that was successfully used when the nursery and landscape industry began in the United States.
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Bare Root to Bare Root- Coming Full Circle