The girdling root plague from rootstock growers

whaas_5a(5A SE WI)July 25, 2014

This post was edited by whaas on Sat, Jul 26, 14 at 10:38

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That is why I hate grafted trees, sprouts from the root growing up and all that stuff. My dad's apple trees are doing that, I want the worst offender gone, there are 2 others that are better behaved. The offender has little apples on it though, so I am letting it be. The other 2 rarely have apples on them, are they pollinators only?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 10:13PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Is it so %*$^@ hard to just pay attention to the root systems and do things correctly?


    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 10:27PM
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No kidding Hairmetal, it's not like it isn't their *job*.

I'd be sorely tempted to tell them to make good on their warranty now, whass.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 10:52PM
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Your time likely has no value to them, but it absolutely does to you! Use the warranty =)

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 8:18AM
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arktrees(6b NW Arkansas)

Crap like this, and a plague of disease problems too. I know times are tough still for the nursery industry, but allot of this kind of crap is just to inflate the bottom line at the buyer's expense. Even the more expensive places to buy from, that claim to be superior is producing CRAP, like that one so many people are sucked into in Oregon (had to throw that part in there just because I hadn't cursed them in a while ;-) ).

Agree with the others, use the warranty. Unless it costs them, they will do nothing to change.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 10:12AM
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tenacre(Z5 SW MI)

> Unless it costs them, they will do nothing to change.

Exactly. If enough people refuse to accept abused trees like these, they will stop abusing the trees.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 10:49AM
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Don't bet on it. My boss once placed a new hire on my crew and it wasn't until he'd been there a couple weeks I found out he was illiterate when I had asked him to tag up some stock and the tags even had pictures on them and he still couldn't match them up.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 2:21PM
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This subject reminds me; every time I read or hear that a corporation's first responsibility is to their shareholders it makes me wanna grab someone by the scruff and speak loudly in their face 'No bozo, their Very First and Foremost Responsibility is to their *Customers* who make it possible for them to be a corporation that can enrich themselves further by selling shares in their company.

Take care of your customers and your shareholders will benefit.

The more I see those poor tree roots the more irked I get. I'm usually pretty meek and mild but this is just so typical of what paying customers are handed and expected to be satisfied with.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 6:39PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

There are a couple reasons they get away with this .

1. Many homeowners don't know better.
2. The trees usually look ok just long enough to pass the guarantee period. Sometimes, a decade or two. Then when it does die, rarely does anyone figure out why.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 6:40PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The universality of deformed roots on container grown nursery stock is one of the main reasons bare-rooting at planting is being advocated.

Since field grown stock often starts in a container you can't get away from it that way.

Already apparently generally careless about root development, the industry additionally appears to think if a plant is to be used as rootstock it can be in effect stored in a band or other small container for sometimes years before being utilized.

Anyway, whatever the details in each individual situation any grower that is actually working on avoiding root deformities during his production cycles should be carried through town on a prince's chair and praised to the skies.

This post was edited by bboy on Sat, Jul 26, 14 at 20:00

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 7:59PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

I take care to, but I only grow for my own use.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 8:22PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Well if you think a more restrained response is in order in your case how about we put you on a plastic bucket and praise you to the neighbor's dog?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 12:07AM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Sure, why not.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 8:09AM
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    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 8:52AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

Good to have another thread on this topic. I think it's something that _should_ be a #1 concern of the industry now, but isn't. Gardening as a hobby is really going to become anachronistic if word gets around that all trees and shrubs start mysteriously dying around the 10 year mark.

Per bboy's comment/advice, I plan to essentially bare root all future container grown stock. I had known about circling roots for many years, and checked for them. But the issue is, as I tried to bring up in another thread, how you define "checking" for them. A quick visual inspection of the surface of the root mass when you remove it from the pot, and a few tugs at any small circling roots, is all I used to think was necessary. But the problem can be buried many inches within. The only way to really find any such knots is complete disassembly, so to speak.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 11:07AM
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I have a similar looking tree. After I removed about 3 inches of soil when I planted this elm in the Spring I found the following. Is this a normal looking root flare or does it look like a defect?


    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 6:11PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

The half moon look is a red flag.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 11:53PM
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I think the problem may be even more insidious than has yet been alluded to. Industry practices aimed at producing plants with deformed roots are not simply oversight on the part of nurseries, but are actually considered best practice.

I have been told by the head grafter at a well-known production house that rootstock should be root-bound at the time of grafting to achieve a high take rate. I think this was just another way of looking at the problem that the understock should go very dry before grafting to prevent sap rise. Another large-scale grafter/grower has given the advice that, when growing plants on, it's important to keep the root system pot-bound and only pot up when absolutely needed, "or else the plant won't grow" I'm not sure what that is about but it sounds like the grower is able to direct growth into the shoots by restraining the root system. These quotes come from managers at large-scale, well-known production houses. The sad fact is that, these practices help them to meet their goals and if they begin providing better care to the root system, their results would fall off from their perspective. With "know-how" like this circulating in the nursery industry, I don't think these practices are going to change any time soon.

Short of propagating your own plants, the only thing to do is to completely bare-root as mentioned above. Problem is, this does occasionally kill the unfortunate plant whose roots are mangled beyond repair. :*(

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 3:06PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

maple_grove, that's why from this point on, I am strongly leaning only towards either very small stock (that is small enough to handle the root surgery, and/or be able to straighten out roots), plants grown in root control pots (even these can be screwed up sometimes, and is a controversial topic even here at GW), or grow them myself from seed. For cultivars I'll stick with the other two options if possible.

As far as growing myself, that might change if I or my neighbor ended up somehow killing my metasequoias after all (see my "herbicide damage" thread).

Even fieldgrown/B&B isn't a guarantee, since the liners used by the nursery are themselves often deformed.

This post was edited by hairmetal4ever on Tue, Jul 29, 14 at 15:15

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 3:12PM
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