Step 3: Purchasing the Fruit Trees (Part I)

Hi everyone… it’s been hot!  Yesterday, the National Weather Service reported a high of 108°F (a weather station near my home reported 109°F).   It’s beginning to feel like good ole’ Southern Nevada.  The weather is expected to cool down to about 100 this weekend with some gusty winds, only to heat back up again next week to around 105°F.  If you have fruit trees and live here in town, be sure to water your trees, especially when the winds pick up a bit.  This will suck the moisture right out of the soil. So, be good to your fruit trees and give them a nice big sip of water 🙂

Now that the orchard plan is set, it’s that time of year again to start thinking about pre-ordering bare root fruit trees!  Typically, most reputable nurseries who sell bare root fruit trees on-line will begin taking orders starting either late August or early September.  Mind you, bare root fruit tree orders ship out for delivery sometime January through March.

Unless you’re an old pro at buying bare root fruit trees, it’s highly possible that you are asking yourself a couple of very important questions, “Why buy bare root fruit trees instead of fruit trees sold in containers?” and, “Why does it take so long before the fruit trees will ship?”. Both are excellent questions to be asking.

For those of you who are new to buying fruit trees or are just interested in reading my post, I invite you to continue reading.  My hope is that after reading the information below (and reading the next few posts), you will be able to make a decision on whether to buy bare root fruit trees or containerized fruit trees based on your own needs.

First, let me give you a little background on each (as I understand it):

Bare root fruit trees

Generally, bare root fruit trees are about one to three years old. Fruit tree growers wait to prepare and ship their fruit tree stock to nurseries until AFTER the trees are fully dormant. I need to point out that the dormant state I’m referring to is the process that “deciduous” fruit trees go through (trees that lose their leaves for part of the year) and not evergreen fruit trees like citrus trees (trees that keep their leaves all year round).

The onset of dormancy takes place in the fall when the days begin to shorten and the temperatures begin to drop. The fruit tree will respond to these changes by slowing down and then stopping its growth process and dropping its leaves.

Dormancy occurs in the winter months when the fruit tree’s internal processes are in a “state of rest” due to the presence of a hormone that inhibits growth (which prevents the tree from growing).  It’s because of this “state of rest” that trees can be safely handled and removed from their soil beds without damage to the tree or roots – and the reason why the trees can be bundled and shipped to nurseries around December and then onto us consumers between January and March.

Bare root fruit trees must be sold and planted before they come out of dormancy. Upon arrival at the nursery, the trees must be cared for and steps taken to ensure the exposed roots stay moist at all times.  Tree roots allowed to dry out between watering will result in damage or death to the fruit tree.  Most nurseries who sell bare root fruit trees, either bury the roots under mounds of moist soil or package tree roots in plastic bags fill with wet packing material (such as wood shavings, sphagnum moss, newspaper, etc.).  Typically, this technique is used for fruit trees that are shipping to customers.

Containerized fruit trees

As before, the same dormancy process applies here. In addition to shipping bare root fruit trees, growers do ship fruit trees in containers to nurseries. In the case of shipping deciduous fruit trees in winter, it is more likely (and economical) for a grower to ship the trees as bare root.  By doing so, it provides nurseries with the option to “pot up” the trees with soil into plastic or biodegradable containers or to sell the trees as bare root.  Some nurseries prefer to sell containerized fruit trees only.  It allows them to sell their fruit tree stock for an “extended” time and reduces their overhead costs.  Nurseries that do sell bare root fruit trees do so for a short window of time (January/February is typical) then they “pot up” any remaining viable fruit trees to sell with their normal landscape stock.

When buying containerized fruit trees, biodegradable containers (a container you can be planted into the ground with the tree and will break down over time) are typically “safer” for dormant fruit trees if you buy the tree later in the season.  The later in the season the more the likelihood the fruit tree will begin to break dormancy and show signs of growth activity such as swelling buds and leafing out (leaves).  More care will be required to remove a plastic container during the planting process, if a tree does display active growth.

In my next post, I’ll cover the advantages and disadvantages of bare root fruit trees.

Chat with you later.

Many Blessings,

AG_Signature_Color_Transparent

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