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.”