Nursery production can range from plants field grown and harvested
bareroot, balled in burlap or with tree spades, or container grown
in sized ranging from a fraction of a gallon to hundreds of gallons,
or pot-in-pot or various other options.
In my years
of research, teaching, consulting and travel, nursery production
practices are a mix of "the good news and the bad news."
production, the good news is:
Trees and shrubs grown in good soil with good care, typically have
better foliage density and color, far superior stem diameter and
taper from soil line to the top with more dense and natural branching,
and, until harvested, have good root systems. The bad news is:
Harvesting is slow, labor intensive, is practical only when the
plants are dormant, and requires an extensive investment in machinery
and labor. And, worst of all, 95% or more of the plant roots are
left in the field even though the soil balls are huge, heavy and
in containers, the good news is:
Plants are mobile and easily moved. The entire root system is confined
to the volume of the container, and, if done correctly, no roots
are lost at harvest. Root tips are active and quickly extend into
the surrounding soil following planting in the landscape. The
bad news is: Plant roots are damaged and some are killed by
heating of the sidewall of the container even when the air temperatures
are moderate. Plant roots can be damaged and sometimes killed by
winter's cold. Containers blow over. Trees and most large shrubs
are tall and spindly. Branching of trees is poor and sparse. Staking
is often required, both in the nursery and after planting in the
landscape, because trees have poor stem diameter, taper and strength.
Roots in conventional containers are deformed and intertwined, and
often the plants is root bound, Deformed roots will always be in
that condition. Using toxic levels of copper on the inside of the
containers creates far more problems than it solves.
production the good news is:
Plants do not blow over, and the roots are protected from summer's
heat and winter's cold. The bad news is: Roots are still
in conventional containers with all of the spiralling and root deformities,
and the longer the plants re grown, the more severe the problem.
Using copper-treated pots for only a few crop cycles pollutes the
surrounding soil with copper so badly as to make it unsuitable for
other crops in the future. Roots often escape from the inside pot
and find their way to the holes in the socket pot so that harvesting
is difficult if not impossible, and the impact of the root loss
on the plant can be as severe as with B&B. The cost of setting
up such a system is very high, and it only works on soils that drain
well without the additional large expense of sub-drains.
you could marry the good news aspects of both field and container
production. Would you do it?
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