Propagation trays play vital role in producing healthy trees, study finds
January 7, 2020, TORONTO – Growers who are looking
to give trees their best chance need to return to their roots, according to new
findings from Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland). Healthy trees
depend on healthy roots and an ongoing study shows propagation trays can have a
permanent impact on root development and growth.
The five-year study, led by Vineland’s Dr. Darby McGrath,
analyzes the health and growth of trees propagated in five different trays,
including the RootSmartTM system, and planted in the field in 2017. Findings from a
recent dig of the two-year-old trees show root defects occurring in propagation
trays were persistent and resulted in permanent defects including circling
roots and root ball development.
“Our analysis showed that, for better or worse,
propagation trays play a big part in healthy root development,” explained Dr.
McGrath. “In most cases, we found roots had been obstructed and misdirected by
the walls of the tray during propagation, resulting in lasting defects that can
impact tree health and mortality over the long term. However, for growers who
are eager to improve root development, we were thrilled to find trees
propagated using RootSmart consistently produced more optimal root systems.”
For growers who are eager to improve root development, we were thrilled to find trees propagated using RootSmart consistently produced more optimal root systems.
Dr. Darby McGrath, Vineland Research & Innovation Centre
Dr. McGrath’s work builds on a growing body of evidence
that is helping growers understand what an ideal nursery-produced root system
should look like. “Our findings support the research of others in our field,
who suggest that the goal of root management in nursery is to produce straight
roots extending outwards radially from the trunk without misdirection
downwards, upwards or around the container.”
Analysis shows the RootSmart propagation system consistently produces many of these desirable traits.
Black Cherry and Eastern Cottonwood trees had more horizontal structural roots
The horizontal structural roots of Eastern Cottonwood were on average one and a half to two times better radially distributed
Black Cherry and Eastern Cottonwood trees had fewer total root defects detected in the field
Black Cherry and Eastern Cottonwood trees had fewer downward deflected structural roots
Designed by Vineland in partnership with A.M.A. Horticulture Inc., the RootSmart propagation system features a unique wall-less, bottom-less design to help prevent root defects during propagation. After four years of research and development, including ongoing grower input, the RootSmart propagation tray was introduced to the market in 2018.
“We started trialing the RootSmart system in 2018 and
have seen a big difference in root quality and overall tree health,” said Joe
Klassen, Manager of Purple Springs Nursery (PSN),
an innovative, science-based tree grower in British Columbia, Canada, that
focuses on growing trees that thrive in an urban setting. “This propagation
system sets a new high watermark for our industry and Purple Springs is proud
to be an early promoter of this innovation.”
Vineland’s findings underscore the importance of propagation
trays for both propagators and finishing growers, who invest years in producing
trees and stake their business on quality.
“As a finishing grower, you want to make sure the trees
you plant are worth the upfront investment and will last their full life cycle,”
said Rick Bradt, Managing Director of A.M.A. Horticulture Inc. “You can take
all the right steps to manage the stock you receive but you can’t go back and
fix the roots. It’s important to work with your propagator to ensure root
quality from the start, when it really counts.”
“If roots are the foundation of your business, take time
to inspect them,” says Dr. McGrath. “If roots are descending or beginning to
circle, these are telltale signs of deflections. Although different species
have different root topologies, what you want to see in finished propagation
liners is evenly spaced branching roots with tips facing outward.”
Dr. McGrath and her research team have assembled a quick guide to help get started with the RootSmart™ propagation system. To learn more, visit rootsmart.com.
Watch: Propagation trays play vital role in tree health
With a highly-skilled research team, oversight from an
independent Board of Directors, engagement from an international Science
Advisory Council and collaboration with 86 global partners including a
Stakeholder Advisory Council, Vineland’s goal is to enhance Canadian growers’
commercial success through results-oriented innovation. We are an independent,
not-for-profit organization funded in part by the Canadian Agricultural
Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. For the latest on our
research and innovation, visit www.vinelandresearch.com.
A.M.A. Horticulture Inc. is a dynamic, solutions-focused
supplier that has been serving the horticulture industry since 1982. Our team
of industry experts understands emerging trends, opportunities and pain points.
We work alongside our customers to deliver innovative, custom solutions and
cutting-edge products that improve growth and profitability. Visit www.amahort.com to discover how we can
deliver solutions for your success today.