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Why bare root trees can establish more quickly than potted ones

alan haigh
10 years ago

I was transplanting this Illinois Everbearing mulberry today from one part of my property to another. The pictures the site above will show are interesting for at least 2 reasons.

The first one is how such a small tree can have an unbelievably extensive root system. The tree is little more than an inch and a half diameter but the fibrous roots reach further than 6' from the trunk spreading in all directions (when in the ground).

I would say that mulberries have the highest root to top ratio of any species I manage and it suggests to me that it is highly competitive and should be kept some distance from other trees in an orchard.

The other thing it shows is how, if you want a quick to establish orchard, the best thing to do would be to acquire bare root trees of some size and in vigorous growth. Can you imagine the size of the pot that would be required to fit those roots properly- it would have to have a 10' diameter!

Unfortunately there is no commercial source I know of for such trees (unless you happen to live a few miles from me). They need to be carefully dug by hand and take a good deal of patience and time. Peaches in particular respond especially well to transplanting bare root when about 2" caliber trees are moved with lots of root. Fruit can be realized the first season.

The one suggestion I can make is that an impatient wannabe home orchardist find a nearby commercial grower and offer to buy some trees off his land that were planted in the last 2 or 3 years and hand dig them with the right tools. If you catch him after a poor harvest he might be quite willing to let some trees go for hard cash.

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