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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Washington, D.C. » National Arboretum » Floral and Nursery Plants Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #169609


item Fare, Donna

Submitted to: Southern Nursery Association Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/15/2004
Publication Date: 10/4/2005
Citation: Fare, D. 2004. Effect of bare root and B&B harvest on growth and establishment of landscape size trees. Proceedings of the Southern Nursery Association Research Conference. 49:134-136.

Interpretive Summary: Nurserymen typically harvest and ship ornamental shade trees as balled and burlapped plants, which results in shipping of a significant weight of soil, and loss of soil mass from the production nursery. There is also a necessity to make repeated pesticide applications to the root ball of trees produced in areas under quarantine to prevent the spread of pests such as Japanese beetles or fire ants. Some deciduous small trees and shrubs have traditionally been shipped as bare root plants ' having all soil removed from the root systems ' which saves weight and shipping costs, and preserves the soil in the production nursery. A study was carried out to determine the effects of bare root harvest on two popular ornamental shade trees, ornamental pear and red maple. Landscape establishment was evaluated for two years in comparable trees harvested either as traditional ball and burlap, or bare root. Survival was excellent for both pear and maple trees, but bare root harvest led to less height gain and trunk growth of maple. Height growth of pears was not significantly affected, but bare root harvested were slower to leaf out in the season following transplanting. Bare root harvest of trees has the advantage of reduced shipping weight and less need of insecticide treatment, at the potential cost of reduced growth during initial establishment.

Technical Abstract: This study suggests that bare root harvest can be a viable option for ornamental shade trees, but with some caveats. Two-inch caliper Pyrus calleryana Decne. 'Bradford' pear and Acer rubrum L. 'October Glory' maple were harvested dormant as bare root and balled and burlapped plants. Landscape establishment was evaluated for two years. Survival was excellent for both species, but bare root harvest reduced height and caliper growth of maple. Height growth of Bradford was similar with both harvest techniques, but caliper growth was less with fall harvest. Bradford pear was slow to leaf out with some treatments suggesting that bare root harvest may not be an ideal harvest technique. Reduction in growth of trees harvested bare root would have to be accepted by landscapers. This may be a concession considering the cost of pesticide treatments required for trees harvested as balled and burlap.