Buying Quality Nursery Stock

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Kansas Community Garden Conference
July 7, 2014
Dr. Cheryl Boyer

Purchasing quality nursery stock can make a significant different in the rate of growth and productivity of the woody plants in your garden (fruit trees and shrubs). This talk will outline nursery production practices and highlight important aspects of well-trained plants, as well as help you identify plants to avoid.

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Buying Quality Nursery Stock

  1. 1. Buying Quality Nursery Stock Kansas Community Garden Conference July 7, 2014 Dr. Cheryl R. Boyer Ornamental Nursery and Garden Center Specialist
  2. 2. 1. Basics of production • Types, Definitions, Cultivar development, Challenges 2. Quality 3. Buying • Where, Size, Rootstocks 4. Canopy development for fruit trees (pruning) 5. What to avoid, what you can fix 6. Planting & Establishment Outline
  3. 3. Nursery Crop Production
  4. 4. 3 types • Field-grown • Don’t receive all of the roots, but good root pruning practices and final size of plant make a big difference. • Container-grown • Receive 100% of the roots, but there may be structural issues • Bare Root • Mail-order • Missouri Gravel Bed System Basics of Production
  5. 5. Missouri Gravel Bed System
  6. 6. Cultivar Development • Cultivar = cultivated variety, denoted by single quotes • Plants with desirable characteristics are… • Selected through careful breeding • Discovered in the wild or on unusual growth (sport, witch’s broom) • Vegetative propagation • Cuttings • Grafting • Tissue Culture
  7. 7. • CHALLENGES • Difficult to propagate • Poor take on grafts • Poor root development on cuttings, tissue culture • Little reaction to propagation hormones • Not enough plants available to take cuttings • Plant patent protection Why Do Some Cultivars Cost So Much?
  8. 8. Quality
  9. 9. • Fullness • Healthy foliage and stems • Symmetry • Absence of circling roots Quality
  10. 10. • Florida Fancy Characteristics-Shade Trees • One trunk through center to top • Branch diameters < 2/3 of trunk • No flush cuts, or evident injuries; no chlorosis • No disease or insects evident • Full crown, appropriate root ball size • No Circling Roots What is Quality in Ornamental Plants?
  11. 11. Failure to Prune Or Lack of Skill Affects Quality of Nursery Stock
  12. 12. Root Quality • Distribution throughout rootball • Not root bound • Roots to bottom of container • Not rooted out of bottom of container • Healthy • Not planted too deeply • White root tip observed at edge of rootball
  13. 13. Way Deep!! 
  14. 14. Planting too deep reduces vigor and establishment of trees grown in large containers.
  15. 15. Buying
  16. 16. How Do You Select Plants?
  17. 17. Cold Hardiness Zones
  18. 18. What Do You Look For in a Plant at the Store? Buy locally grown! Tree--does it have a dominant leader? No trunk damage No girdling roots Good root system (not recently shifted up) Disease-free Healthy leaf color Filled out Correct label
  19. 19. Rootstocks
  20. 20. …Or Time to Harvest • Trees • Slow • Larger plants, quicker turnaround • Smaller plants, longer wait • Shrubs and Perennials • Fairly quick, no matter the liner size • 1 or 2 years to harvest Growth Rate
  21. 21. • Check the back of the Midwest Home Fruit Production Guide • Stark Brothers (www.starkbros.com) • Local growers such as Horticulture Services, etc. Where?
  22. 22. Canopy Development (Pruning)
  23. 23. What to Avoid What You Can Fix
  24. 24. What You Can Fix • Minor root circling on small plants • Shave/cut the outside inch of circling roots off • Minor pruning issues • Follow instructions in pruning guides • Plants that haven’t filled the container with roots • Let them sit and grow a bit more (with water, of course)
  25. 25. Planting and Establishment
  26. 26. Hole = 2 to 3 times the width of rootball, only as deep as the rootball
  27. 27. Cultivated field grown trees may have too much soil thrown on top around the stem. Effect is planting too deep!
  28. 28. Proper Mulching
  29. 29. Watering Tree Gator 5-Gallon Bucket w/holes
  30. 30. Resources K-State Research & Extension Bookstore www.ksre.ksu.edu/bookstore Click on “Lawn and Garden”, then “Fruits and Vegetables” Midwest Home Fruit Production Guide: Cultural Practices and Pest Management via Ohio State University Extension bit.ly/MwHFPG
  31. 31. Questions? crboyer@ksu.edu Dr. Cheryl R. Boyer Ornamental Crop Production Specialist

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