Fruit trees are a perennial crop, and the quality, longevity, care, and handling costs of your future garden, as well as the quantity and quality of your final harvest, all depend on the correct choice of planting material. In this article, we will explain how to buying fruit trees seedlings.
WHAT DO I NEED TO DO BEFORE I BUY A FRUIT TREE SEEDLING?
Before you start or resume planting in your garden, we recommend that you do some preparatory work.
Write down in your garden diary which seedlings, varieties, and maturity dates of the crops you need to buy. Their number should be drawn in advance in your diary to plan the planting and prepare the planting pit on the plot.
Determine the height of the groundwater, the depth of the fertile layer, and the substrate, which is especially important if the plot is located in a former quarry and other uncomfortable areas.
Often, the garden is planted with grafted seedlings. And from the depth of the groundwater will depend on what kind of rootstock seedlings are purchased.
SELECTION OF SEEDLINGS WITH ROOTSTOCKS
When choosing seedlings, it is important to pay attention to the rootstock. The “health” of the future garden and the quality of the future harvest depends on the right type of rootstock.
- Dwarf (low-growing) rootstocks are characterized by shallow root systems, exposure to weather disasters, and short life spans.
2.Seeded (high growth) rootstocks that are more durable and resistant to harsh environmental conditions.
If the garden is large enough and located on flat ground with a low (deep) water table, you can purchase seedlings on a vigorous growing seed rootstock. Cultures with such rhizomes have a rod-shaped root system that penetrates 10-13 ft (3-4 m) deep into the soil. The root “anchors” will hold the tree well in the soil under different climatic catastrophes (strong winds, hurricanes, floods, etc.). It should be remembered, however, that on high-growth rootstocks, trees reach heights of 30-50 feet (9-15 m), which makes this culture difficult to take care of.
It is more practical to buy seedlings from dwarf or semi-dwarf rootstocks if the plot is small, located in lowland, with a fertile layer not exceeding 20-24inch (50-60 cm) and groundwater close to the surface (high). To maintain a low stature, trees on dwarf rootstocks as well as tall growth should be pruned.
Experienced gardeners prefer tall-growing rootstocks because they are more resistant to weather and soil disasters and are more durable. In addition, crops can bear fruit on dwarf rootstocks for up to 15-20 years, while sown strong-growing crops can grow to 80-100 years.
HOW DO I DISTINGUISH BETWEEN TYPES OF ROOTSTOCKS WHEN BUYING SEEDLINGS?
When deciding on a certain type of seedling suitable for your garden conditions, first check its root system.
- Dwarf rootstock
All rootstocks of rootstocks branch out from the root neck and are of the same thickness and length. The root system type is taproot with fine suckering roots.
- Strongly rooted (seed) rootstock
The roots of rootstocks are taproots and straight. The thinner lateral roots originate from the central stem. They are almost horizontal compared to the central stem and covered with sparse rootlets.
RULES FOR SELECTING SEEDLINGS
Presence of a label
Seedlings should have a label with the following information:
- The type of crop (apple, pear, quince, etc.)
- The name of the cultivar.
- The name of the cultivar and its zone (local, regional or national); it is better to buy locally released varieties
- Ripening period (early, medium, or late)
- Type of rootstock.
- Age of the seedlings.
The best seedlings for planting are 1-2-year-old seedlings. They adapt to new conditions much faster. 4-5-year-old overdense seedlings get used to the new place after 3-4 years and endure transplanting rather painfully. Compared to 1-2-year-old seedlings, 5-year-old seedlings always delay the formation of the first crop (delicate culture – 2-3 years).
As far as external parameters are concerned, seedlings should have the following standard dimensions.
A 1-year-old seedling: trunk height 28-40inch (0.7-1 m), trunk diameter 0.4-0.5-0.6inch (1-1.2-1.4 cm). The length of the root system is 10-14inch (25-35 cm). The above-ground part of the seedling (scion) has no lateral branches.
2-year-old seedlings: Seedlings are 55-60inch (1.4-1.5m) in height and have a stem diameter of up to 0.8inch (2cm). The length of the root system is 12inch (30 cm). Above-ground parts may have 1-2 lateral branches.
Seedlings of 2-3 years old have a well-defined central conductor (trunk) and 3-5 lateral branches (future skeletal branches). Side shoots (branches) should leave the trunk at an angle of 45 to 90. Branches located at acute angles on mature trees will break later under a load of harvest. In pear trees, the deflection angle can be sharp (a characteristic of this culture), and it increases during crown formation by bending.
The roots should have a healthy appearance, smooth, and free of growth and ulcers. An exception is sea buckthorn and other crops that have nodules of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in their roots.
Healthy roots have a light color when cut and shimmer with moisture. The dark color at the cut – it is possible that the seedlings are frosted. Dry – with a dry root system, seedlings take a long time to root and will probably die. The root system should have water-absorbing roots. Roots and roots should be resilient. Bare, dry roots will not be alive!
External conditions of the seedling
The trunk of the seedling should be straight. The bark is smooth, with no dark spots or blotches. The black spots are the areas of future gum spray (the embryonic state of gum spray, especially in peaches, apricots, and cherries). The live bark is slightly greenish and light when scraped. Wrinkled bark and a brown layer of dry wood underneath are signs that the seedling has been detached from the soil for a long time (the seedling has dried out, lost internal moisture, and may not survive).
It is not recommended to buy seedlings with leaves, especially those that have lost moisture and are sagging. Such seedlings are dug too early, the wood is not mature, and the tree can easily be killed by frost.
Conditions for grafting
If the seedlings are grafted, check the grafting site carefully. Sometimes there is grafting, but it will be accompanied by the growth of thorns or spines on the scion (especially in plums, apricots, peaches, pears). So, graft a big-headed ghost and count on an inexperienced buyer. A true graft has no thorns.
Seedlings of colonized varieties
The annual seedlings of colonized fruit crops differ externally from the usual annual seedlings in that the central conductor (future trunk) is thicker, from 0.6inch (1.5cm) to more. In 2-3-year-old seedlings of colonized crops, the central shoot/stem is almost devoid of lateral branches. In normal seedlings, lateral branches (2-3-5 pieces) have formed at this age.
HOW TO SAVE SEEDLINGS BEFORE SOWING?
Purchased seedlings should be packed immediately so that the graft will not break and the roots will not dry out during transportation. You should bring a damp rag, burlap and a tall bag with you. Wrap the roots of the seedlings in the damp rag, carefully tie them with twine, and place them in the damp rag before placing them in the plastic bag. This way, the seedlings will not lose moisture and will not be damaged during transportation.
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