Typical nursery production practices, such as root pruning and transplanting, can alter tree root architecture and contribute to root systems that are too deep. In a study of field-grown liner production, root architecture was examined at each stage of the production process, from first year seedlings or rooted cuttings, through 4 to 5 year old branched liners. Depth and diameter of structural roots were recorded on ten replications each of Acer saccharum, Gleditsia triancanthos, Pyrus calleryana, and apple seedling rootstocks; Platanus ‘Columbia’ clonal rooted cuttings; and apple EMLA 111 clonal rootstock produced by mound propagation. By the time the liners reached marketable size, most natural lateral roots emerging from the primary root were lost. Simultaneously, adventitious roots were produced deeper on the root shank at the pruned end of the primary root. These changes in architecture result in the formation of an ‘adventitious root flare’ that is deeper in the soil than a natural root flare. The depth of this new root flare is dependent upon nursery production practices and may influence the ultimate depth of structural roots in the landscape.

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Author notes

Supported in part by the J. Frank Schmidt Nursery and Family Charitable Foundation and The Horticulture Research Institute, 1000 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005. Abstract.

2Research Assistant.

3Senior Research Scientist. gwatson@mortonarb.org