If you’re a tree farmer, it’s not exactly news — healthy tree roots mean healthy trees. More than any other factor, root health determines speed of growth, time to market and mortality rates after the sale. So it’s only logical that tree farmers across the world are searching for methods to optimize root growth.
Using the ball and burlap method, 50-80% of the root tips are cut off at harvest. The severity of root destruction depends on the species of the tree and the operator of the tree spade. Studies show there is approximately 25% mortality after ball and burlap transplanting. Trees grown using in-ground fabric grow bags retain 80% or more of the root ball at harvest – with no root circling.
Bag-grown trees produce abundant, fibrous roots throughout entire root ball. When transplanted, these fibrous provide more energy in the form of carbohydrates and nutrients. This leads to faster lateral root development and top growth, leaving you with healthy tree roots. Thanks to compact root balls containing little soil, trees grown in fabric bags weigh two thirds less than ball and burlap specimens. Soil loss per tree is considerably less as well.
When roots approach the edge of a fabric bag, the air dries out the root tip causing it to desiccate. This, in turn, causes the roots to branch and become fibrous. The process, known as “air pruning,” promotes fibrous roots throughout the entire root ball. It also prevents undesirable root circling.
Thanks to numerous fibrous roots created during transplant or stepping up, bag-grown trees experience a grow spurt over their first year. After that, the plant grows normally while exhibiting the best survivability compared to other growing practices. With proper care and the right amount of water and nutrients, bag-grown trees have a much better survival rate. This is due to their healthy root systems that have no root circling — the number one problem for plants grown in plastic containers.
Healthy tree roots allow trees to rejuvenate much faster upon transplant. With anchoring roots and top growth quickly established, your customers will see for themselves how healthy and quickly the tree grows.
Fostering healthy trees, in ground or above, also provides extraordinary benefits to nurseries and tree farmers, including:
Whether you’re just getting started or running an established tree farm, fabric grow bags can give you twice as many trees per acre. They deliver more than just healthy tree roots and a fibrous root system. They cut labor costs and greatly reducing tree mortally. By eliminating costly tree spades, fabric bags are poised to revolutionize the industry. It is no surprise that more tree farmers are choosing fabric grow bags every day.
With 2,000 acres of growing area and 26 retail outlets in four states, Moon Valley Nurseries is the largest retail-integrated nursery in the United States. Currently, the company produces approximately 500,000 trees per year. Moon Valley is just the latest stop in Operations Manager, Russ Kelly’s, long and storied career After studying Ornamental Horticulture at Cal Poly in the early 1970’s, Russ began looking for innovative ways of growing trees in Southern California. That’s when he discovered a revolutionary method of tree planting.
A Growing Epiphany
In the early 1980’s, Russ stumbled across grow bags developed by High Caliper Growing. Known as Root Control Bags, Russ found them so advantageous he became the largest user of High Caliper grow bags in California. “I’ve experimented with numerous methods of growing in my 40-plus-year career. Bags are the absolute best,” he commented. Root Control Bags gave Russ the ability to harvest up to 500 trees per day. “Root Control Bags create major savings in the industry’s largest cost center — labor.”
To the Moon and Beyond
In 2013, Russ’s company was acquired by Moon Valley Nurseries, who retained him to build their business. Russ quickly realized that his new, vastly expanded customer base wasn’t ready for High Caliper Growing’s innovative grow bags. Despite their .01% mortality rate and harvest-ability in 108-degree temperatures, the market was not prepared for a paradigm shift. That got Russ thinking. Who exactly was forward-thinking enough to purchase bag-grown trees? That’s when he discovered a niche market — selling indoor trees to high-end properties and venues. That single insight led him to create relationships with some of the world’s most recognizable brands.
How Do You Like Them Apples?
Russ’s customers now include some of the highest-profile brands in the world. Apple is installing bag-grown trees throughout its $5-billion headquarters in Cupertino, California. Apple houses Russ’s trees in custom concrete pots that have leather seating installed on top of them. And Apple stores around the world are catching on, too. From San Francisco to Missouri to Dubai, Apple stores around the globe are buying trees grown in Root Control Bags. For Russ, selling grow bags into this highly specialized market is the culmination of a long and winding career. Reflecting on his experiences, he mused: “I started with a one-acre plot and became the largest user of Root Control Bags in California.”