Storage of bare-root trees before planting

wine-maker(6b)March 4, 2013

I just found out that one of the nurseries that I ordered tree stock from is giving me the option of shipping on 3/11 or 4/15. I have time scheduled off of work to plant during the first week of April. So it's looking like I will be taking the 3/11 shipment and storing the trees for a few weeks, about three weeks in all including the shipping time.

The nursery is telling me the trees are shipped with enough moisture so that they can be stored in their original packaging for a "few weeks", or they can be heeled in some moist sand until ready to plant. I wasn't planning on buying any sand (would need enough for 25 trees) so I would prefer to store them as received. I do have a root cellar that I could store them in that probably wouldn't see more that 40 degrees during this time-frame.

What would be your preferred method of storage?
For what it is worth, the trees are coming from Trees of Antiquity, so I would think they would be well packed.

Thanks, jamie

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


40 degrees is great. Stick them in there and you will be fine. That assumes they are at least reasonably packed. But at 40F there shouldn't really be much issue.

Heeled in outside they will be at a higher temperature most of the time. I'd go with the lower temperature any time.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 12:23PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Jamie, for that long a period I would take them out of your cold storage say once a week and give them a soak in a tub, and keep the roots well-wrapped in wet newspaper or the like while in storage. I have stored bare roots in my cool garage for several weeks and had many die; the roots looked all dried out when I unwrapped them to plant. Every vendor wraps trees differently, some will help keep the roots moist a lot more than others.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 3:33PM
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alan haigh

I often just put mine in the shade for 3 weeks covering with a tarp. However, my boxes are crammed tight with trees and there is never any danger of them drying out.

In all the years I've been running my nursery I've never had trees die because I waited too long to plant them and I'm very busy in Spring. The problem with opening up the box is that it is a lot of work to put everything back as it was if the box is crammed full.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 6:19PM
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Thanks for the replies, looks like the trees will be spending some time in the root cellar. j

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 11:08AM
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tedgrowsit(6b PA)

May I add a question to this thread? How late is too late to plant bare root fruit trees? I have a large number of trees to plant this spring and I wonder how late is too late. Thanks, Ted

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 11:28AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I've had some success and no failures that I remember planting in late April and early May. That's pretty late here, 80s for highs, hot, dry, and windy. I believe I painted most of those trees white at planting.

They also do OK even with some buds pushing. Earlier planting of fully dormant stock is preferred.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 11:51AM
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alan haigh

In PA you tend to lose a years growth if you plant much past mid-april.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 11:54AM
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