Gilman, E.F. and R.C. Beeson, Jr.
Nursery Production Method Affects Root Growth
J. Environ. Hort. 14(2): 88-91
This study compared growth and biomass distribution on two commonly grown trees produced in plastic containers with those in fabric containers and in the field. Shoot:root ratio on field-grown and fabric container-grown laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia Michx.) was higher than on holly Ilex x attenuata Ashe. 'East Palatka'). Ratios were similar for trees grown in plastic containers. Compared to oaks, a larger portion of holly root balls was comprised of small diameter roots. Root spread of field-grown laurel oak was similar to those produced in fabric containers. Trees of both species growing in plastic containers had several times more fine root mass (roots 2 mm or less diameter) within the root ball than those dug from the field or fabric containers. Total root ball root weight in plastic containers was less than in field- and fabric container grown trees. Root weight inside the root balls for field-grown and fabric container-grown tree was similar but field-grown root balls were twice the volume. Only 17% (field) and 26% (fabric containers) of holly root weight within the root ball was from roots 10 mm or less in diameter. However, 48% percent of root weight on trees grown in plastic containers was in this diameter class. Between 68 and 84%, depending on species and production method, of total-tree root weight was inside the root ball. Between 10% and 18.1%, depending on species and production method, of roots 2 mm or less in diameter was inside the root ball.