Can I safely transplant a 7ft oak sapling?

chester_grant(6)June 10, 2011

I have a 7ft sapling which is not the tree I thought it was - it is not a Pin Oak.

Without commercial equipment is it possible to transplant this tree - as I understand it I would have to cut the tap-root - in other words will I be able to capture enough root to ensure survival?

My thought was that before transplanting in the fall that I would right now cut a circle around the root say 6 inches from the trunk (for the future root ball) and leave the tree in position until then. Is a 12 inch x 18 inch deep root ball enough?

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hortster(6a, southcentral KS)

I wouldn't do any root pruning now if the tree is in full leaf. The rule of thumb that a local nursery uses here is 10" of root ball diameter for every inch of caliper (taken at 6" above the root flare).
hortster

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 11:20AM
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j0nd03

Oh really? What was the ID on that tree?

Don't do anything to it right now. Wait until after leaf drop and then do your digging while getting as much of the rootball as possible (both vertically and horizontally). On a 7 ft tree I would try around 2'x2' and make sure you water it in whenever it gets dry the first year or two at the new location.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 11:31AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

That 10" per inch guideline would likely result in a less than ANSI standard sized rootball on this tree (too small). I'd go with at least a standard sized ball, if not larger.

Ideally, if root pruning was going to be done, it should have already have been done. Some root pruning now might help, but I have mixed feelings about it (there are positives and negatives).

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 11:46AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

the thought is .. that stressing the heck out of it now .. is not going to help it.. when you stress the heck out of it with actual transplant in fall ...

forget about the tap root issue .... its just another root ...

check out the pic for moving a 7 - 9 foot cherry ... and i have done the same with many oak seedlings ...

do the deed when the leaves fall off the other trees... or when they color ... all trees will be dormant above by then ...

or in spring around 4/1 ... lol.. look at the date on the pic ....

ken

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 12:48PM
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hortster(6a, southcentral KS)

brandon7, you are correct. I should have looked before I leaped. Attached are the ANSI standards. And, I know that at that nursery they used to put a larger rootball on oaks than for other trees and had better transplant success. Also note that collected trees (as this one might be considered) need a larger rootball yet.
hortster

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 2:39PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Use the "Type 1" chart for this tree.
__________________________________

"forget about the tap root issue .... its just another root ..."

In some small sense, there is some truth in that statement, but generally I'd say it's just wrong.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 9:48PM
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lucky_p

I'm with Ken. The taproot is NOT a magical thing.
It's mainly a 'reserve energy storage vessel' of sorts, so, when digging a strongly-taprooted species, it's best to preserve as much as is possible - just so the tree will have more to call upon for re-establishing root system and pushing leaves; but it's not a death warrant to cut it. Cutting the taproot causes no more stress to the tree than cutting any other similar-sized root.

I bare-root and transplant oaks/pecans/hickories similar in size to the cherry that ken showed the photo of, all the time. Yes, I try to get at least 16-20" or more of taproot, but if they come out with only 10-12", it's not the end of the world.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 5:19PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

"Cutting the taproot causes no more stress to the tree than cutting any other similar-sized root."

It's hard to know how to easily address that statement because reality is just more complex than that. First, most oak taproots grow very differently than lateral roots. Taproots are much more short and stubby than similar sized lateral roots. Young naturally-grown oaks may not have any roots as large as their taproot and a large percentage of the root system may radiate from the taproot. The trees depend on the taproot for support and to reach moisture. As the trees grow, the taproots become less dominant but are often retained as a storage organ.

Oaks (most, anyway) can be pretty forgiving of taproot pruning, but that doesn't mean the taproot is unimportant (or of equal importance to similarly sized roots). In fact, if this were the case, the efforts and money going into research on how best to handle taproot development in container grown trees would be of no real meaning. The roots would just be chopped off without much thought when the trees were planted.

Can oaks be successfully transplanted with significant loss of taproot material? Definitely. Does the taproot make most oak species more sensitive to transplant than many other types of trees? Without a doubt. There is no need to be afraid to remove part of the taproot, but simply ignoring it's significance is not likely to lead to better transplanting results.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 6:59PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

"forget about the tap root issue .... its just another root ..."

In some small sense, there is some truth in that statement, but generally I'd say it's just wrong.

=-==>>> what i mean.. he does not have to excavate the entire taproot to 22 feet because it is some magical premium root..

it is simply another root on the tree.. and should be cut to a length consistent with the rest of the severed roots ... its just part of the root mass ... IT IS NOT MAGICAL...

the tap.. simply held the acorn long enough for the sprout to form and grow skyward.. until other roots anchored it to the ground ...

i maintain.. IT IS NOT MAGICAL ... treat it like any other ...

i mean really.. are you suggesting a 30 inch bare root group of roots .. and a 5 foot excavation of the tap??? if it really goes that far .. i presume not ... correct me if i am wrong ...

when forming the ball.. or barerooting.. its just another root ...

ken

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 7:00PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I know we ended up cross-posting Ken. You are right about not excavating a 5' of taproot! Some species are more sensitive to transplant than others, and some oaks have no taproot at all (at least after their seedling stage). With naturally-grown oaks (ones without early taproot modification/removal) and even (maybe to a smaller degree) with established, once-container-grown oaks, I'd just recommend a rootball a little deeper than an normal. In other words, don't go nuts (or acorns), but also don't just completely disregard the taproot.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 7:22PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Pop it out bare-rooted at a suitable time of the year, getting as much root as possible instead of trying to make and move an intact soil ball. The tree wants to keep all its roots, the closer you come to this state the less stunting of the top there will be the following spring.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 7:23PM
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