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Tree survival skills
Date:5/4/2009

ped trees. "We hypothesized that stresses associated with handling and transporting nursery stock during transplanting could be directly linked to reduced tree growth and survival within the first year of establishment. Identifying the specific stress factors responsible for transplant shock and when they occur is crucial if the process is to be improved", Stewart explained.

To determine the short-term impact of transplanting on health and establishment of woody plants in the landscape, the researchers studied maple trees at three critical stages in the transplanting process (initial harvest, handling, and transport) at three sites in Illinois and Wisconsin. Norway and red maples were subjected to three distinct treatments: root-pruned, handled, and transported. "Our intent was not to look at potential treatment differences between the two maple species, but rather be able to generalize our results to transplanting events of several woody species. We then used this information to identify key stages in the transplanting process that diminish transplanted tree growth and survival", the scientists said. Effects of water stress, root severance, and root-ball disruption on twig elongation and tree survival were measured for each treatment and compared with unaltered control trees.

Harvested root balls can be extremely heavy and are relatively fragile. The researchers observed visible damage of root balls during the study. "Based on the data, it appeared the majority of this damage occurred during the handling process. Results suggest rough handling before and after transport should be minimized in an effort to maximize growth and transplant success", remarked Stewart.

The scientists advise that handling should also be minimized when trees are transplanted in order to reduce stress and establishment time. They recommend careful planning to prevent unnecessary movements of trees at both the nursery loading area and landscape site and warn that
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Contact: Michael W. Neff
mwneff@ashs.org
703-836-4606
American Society for Horticultural Science
Source:Eurekalert

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