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Author Topic: Planting 2yo bare root oak seedlings - Is this normal?  (Read 393 times)

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Offline Treeflea24

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Planting 2yo bare root oak seedlings - Is this normal?
« on: March 31, 2020, 01:12:19 PM »
I recently bought 100 two-year-old (listed as 2-0) swamp white oak bare root seedlings.
The 2 year olds cost only a few cents more than one-year-olds, and I figured that $10 was a pretty good deal to save a year's time in growing, and might increase survival.
I'd planned to plant these with a trenching shovel, using it as one would a dibble. The spade on the shovel is ~5" wide, and ~12" long. Ive used it before on other bare root seedlings without any trouble.

When these trees arrived the majority of them had roots that were ~ 9-12" long from the collar, but in most cases (80-90%) this main root structure was not even close to being vertical. I'd describe the shape as an "S-curve" or "drain trap", although not as extreme as those shapes - the root never quite went inverted. It looks to me like these trees were transplanted at some point, and the root was planted horizontally at that time. The above ground portion grew vertically, and the new root growth was vertical, but the original root structure connecting them was nearly horizontal.

I wasnt able to plant these trees with the simple stab-pry-plant-stab-pry-stomp method that I have in the past because the root ran 7-8" sideways from the tree location. Instead I had to dig a short trench, plant and refill the hole, or in cases where the soil was soft enough I basically made two or three adjacent dibble openings and planted the horizontal root in the lengthened opening.

My questions:
1. Is this normal? If I order 2yo seedlings in the future should I expect the same? Is this some kind of pitfall that everyone already knew about and I found out the hard way?
2. Should I be concerned at all about the future health of these trees because of this horizontal tap root situation?
3. Does my theory that these trees were mechanically transplanted and rooted horizontally sound right? Or could there be something else that caused this?

Thanks for any input.

Offline dchiapin

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Re: Planting 2yo bare root oak seedlings - Is this normal?
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2020, 04:09:32 PM »
most bare root growers undercut the seedlings a couple of times during their growing period to root prune them. It is quit possible the ground they where growing in may have had some compacted soil under the loose soil they where growing in.
Sometimes we get these like you described so we just bend the horizontal roots downward. They will do just fine.

Offline Klunker

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Re: Planting 2yo bare root oak seedlings - Is this normal?
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2020, 12:03:54 AM »
I've planted a bunch of White Oak seedlings, 2 year olds same as yours.
Yes tthe root was approx the same. When I planted them I did the best I could trying to make sure the root was pointing down and spread the lateral roots out as best I could.
I have never had any issue planting Oaks. They always seem to do good. Beech is another issue all together.
If your area is anything like mine you better have a plan on keeping the deer off them.

Online SwampDonkey

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Re: Planting 2yo bare root oak seedlings - Is this normal?
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2020, 05:31:30 AM »
J rooting will cause a number of concerns when planting out in the field, so same should apply in the nursery in my opinion. Poorly developed roots are subject to poor growth, windthrow, trunk breakage at ground level and the premature failure of plantings.
Move'n on.

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Planting 2yo bare root oak seedlings - Is this normal?
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2020, 03:51:06 PM »
Yes, the roots and especially the tap root should be moist and pointed down for the best quality survival.

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