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RootSmart reduces production cycle in grapes, researchers find

September 03, 2020

New study results show that the RootSmart propagation tray reduces the number of production days for grape vine propagators in Ontario from as long as 80 days down to 50 days. These findings come from a recent field trial conducted by the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Lincoln, Ontario, which compared the RootSmart propagation tray to two other commonly used propagation trays. The study also found that grapes propagated in the RootSmart tray had fewer root defects.


Previous research from led by Dr. Darby McGrath, research scientist at Vineland, and her team has shown the innovative tray's ability to reduce root defects in trees and promote healthier root systems during propagation to produce healthier trees after years in the field (Read: Propagation trays play a vital role in tree health). These latest results demonstrate that the RootSmart propagation tray can help optimize root systems in other woody perennials and assist with the optimization of labour and production.

"This is an important finding as it means less time handling and caring for material by propagators which can be converted into cost savings," says Dr. Darby McGrath, senior research scientist in environmental horticulture, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre.

Read the full article on Fruit & Vegetable

Learn more about RootSmart and the research conducted by the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre.

Article: "New shorter production cycle propagation trays available"


Read more about RootSmart and custom solutions A.M.A. can offer you by clicking here.

Going wild over native plants

May 19, 2020

A new horticulture trend is been taking root. From home gardeners to growers to municipalities, people are starting to go wild for native plants. And with good reason. Native plants are beautiful, well adapted, cost effective and, perhaps above all, they meet the current demand for more sustainable horticulture solutions.

Propagation trays play vital role in producing healthy trees, study finds

January 07, 2020

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.”

Farmtario: Growing Trees That Last

November 14, 2019

By Lilian Schaer, Farmtario, Volume 2, Issue 23

November 18, 2019  

A partnership between Vineland Research and Innovation Centre and Kingsville-based A.M.A. Horticulture has resulted in a plant propagation system that addresses this costly problem. “Root defects are such a big problem in the landscape industry — growers have to warranty trees, trees are planted by a municipality or subdivision and in less than three years, they have to replace dying trees,” says A.M.A. managing director Rick Bradt. “They’re spending a lot of money for trees to die. If you plant 10,000 trees per year and you have to replace 10 to 20 per cent of them, the financial loss is real.”

New Resource helps growers get started with RootSmart

October 25, 2019

Researchers from Vineland Research & Innovation Centre have put together a new resource to help growers incorporate the RootSmart system into their production practices for tree propagation. Download "Growing in RootSmart" and get growing today. 

With their unique root systems, oak trees can be tough to grow and often develop root defects during the first stages of growth when roots come into contact with the propagation tray's walls. But where there is a horticulture challenge, there is also an opportunity to find solutions. Under the guidance of Professor Mary Jane Clark, horticulture students from Niagara College conducted a research study using the RootSmartTM propagation tray to help grow healthier white oak seedlings. 

Digging up proof: RootSmart field trials show healthier tree establishment

January 08, 2019

We launched RootSmart at the Landscape Ontario Congress in 2018. Now one year later, ongoing field trials at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre continue to show that the propagation tray is having real impact on better root distribution and tree establishment.

Talking Healthy Roots with Ontario Horticulture Students

December 19, 2018

A.M.A. had the opportunity to speak with more than 100 horticulture students from the University of Guelph and Niagara College about our RootSmart tree propagation tray. Students at both institutions have been conducting trials comparing trees grown in the RootSmart tray with trees grown in other propagation trays. The results continue to be overwhelmingly positive. 

Better Roots, Better Trees, Better Profits

May 02, 2018

RootSmart Propagation System featured in the Vineland Research & Innovation Centre's Spring Newsletter

New propagation system is proven to prevent root girdling

January 09, 2018

A proven and innovative tree propagation system is helping growers increase their profitability by producing healthier, more beautiful trees. Launched today at the Landscape Ontario Congress, RootSmartTM is the only evidence-based propagation system on the market that promotes an ideal root structure by preventing root girdling at the propagation stage.

Rooting for success with RootSmart

October 17, 2017

Vineland 2017-2018 Innovation Report

Rick Bradt, managing director of A.M.A. Plastics (A.M.A.) in Kingsville, ON has seen what air currents can do to an orchard. Trees loaded with a crop standing tall one day and toppled over the next, giving in to gusts that blow through their heavy branches.

Managing Tree Roots in Propagation demo

September 22, 2017

By Dave Harrison for Greenhouse Canada


Vineland Research and Innovation Centre is hosting a demonstration day – Managing Tree Roots in Propagation – on Sept. 27 for its new RootSmartTM tree technology.

Effect of Propagation Tray Design on Early Stage Root Development of Acer rubrum, Quercus rubra, and Populus tremuloides

March 01, 2017

Journal of Environmental Horticulture

This experiment investigated the effect of different plug-tray cell designs on root development of red maple (Acer rubrum), red oak (Quercus rubra), and quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) seedlings. In April of 2015, seeds of each species were sown into three plug trays with different substrate volumes and grown for 17 weeks. Two trays had permeable walls for air-pruning, one with vertical ribs and one without. The third tray had impermeable plastic cell walls. Harvested seedlings were analyzed for root dry weight, length, volume, surface area and number of deflected roots. Root length per volume was highest in the impermeable-walled tray for red maple and quaking aspen. The total numbers of deflected root systems were higher for all species in the impermeable-walled tray. Seedlings grown in the air-pruning trays had smaller proportions of deflected root masses. Greater substrate volume did not influence root deflection development. The air-pruning tray without vertical ribs had the lowest total number of root masses with misdirected roots and lower proportions of root masses with misdirected roots for all species. These results indicate that improved root architecture in root-air pruning tray designs is achievable in tree propagation; however, vertical plastic structures in air-pruning trays can still cause root deflections.

A.M.A. and Vineland develop tree propagation system

November 14, 2016

Horti Daily and Floral Daily

A.M.A. has been working with Vineland Research & Innovation Centre for nearly three years on the development of a tree propagation system for tree producers. 

New propagation trays improve tree health and growth

October 18, 2016

By Kelly Daynard for AgInnovation Ontario

The differences between two young oak trees in a greenhouse at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) are immediately noticeable. Not only is one twice the size of the other, but its root base is much thicker.

Both trees were planted into the same growing medium on the same day last April. The difference is that the smaller one was grown in a traditional black plastic plug tray, common in the nursery industry, while the larger one was grown in a revolutionary new propagation tray designed by Vineland.

Rooting for propagation perfection

October 07, 2016

Vineland 2016-2017 Innovation Report

Darby McGrath knows that all good trees start from the ground up — below ground, actually — and even before they’re planted.


Problem is, the tools available to nurseries don’t always enable trees to take root in the best possible way. If anything, they can set trees up for serious defects right from propagation because of flaws in the containers used in those early stages of growth.

Vineland Research In Canada Partners On Development Of Propagation Trays

September 01, 2016

By Brian Sparks for Greenhouse Grower

The Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in Ontario, Canada, is revolutionizing propagation systems for the nursery sector through a tray design supporting superior tree health and root growth.

A Tray to Grow a Better Tree

September 01, 2016

By Ronda Payne for Orchard and Vine Magazine

From the time it is a seedling, how a tree’s roots form and grow are an important indication of future health and production. Dr. Darby McGrath, research scientist in nursery and landscape plants with the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre wants to create a better propagation tray to allow seedlings the best opportunity possible.

Vineland researchers developing improved propagation trays

July 21, 2016

By Luke Edwards for Niagara This Week

A good start in life can go a long way in ensuring good health in the future. That’s just as true for trees as it is for people. And Vineland Research and Innovation Centre scientist Darby McGrath is leading a team to make sure young trees get off to the very best start in life they can. McGrath and her team are working on new propagation trays that they say improve root structure and overall tree health.

Vineland researchers develop new propagation trays

July 14, 2016

Horti Daily, Floral Daily and Nursery Management


Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) is revolutionizing propagation systems for the nursery sector through a tray design supporting superior tree root growth.

Propagation trays designed to increase tree health and growth

July 07, 2016

A.M.A. and Vineland Research and Innovation Centre are revolutionizing propagation systems for the nursery sector through a tray design supporting superior tree root growth.

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