How long before planting Bare Root Tree?

OmniMay 21, 2012

Hello everyone. Last week I ordered a bare root July Elberta Peach tree from Stark Bros. I was checking the tracking info and it said that it will arrive at my house on Tuesday. However, I won't have time until Friday to plant it. Will this be bad for the tree? I know the directions are to plant as soon as you receive the tree, but would I be able to leave the tree in the box until Friday before opening it? Or should I open it, moisten it with some more water, and then leave it in a dark and cool area until planting?

Thank you!

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alan haigh

The tree, if it's well packed, should be just fine for longer than this. Store in cool shade. No need to repack.

Unfortunately this is much too late in your zone to be putting in bare roots and you probably won't get a lot of growth this year. However it will do much better next.

Next time order early and ask for late march delivery.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 5:35AM
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Thank you for your help! Will it grow enough to bear fruit next year? Or is it likely that this tree might die?

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 10:15AM
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alan haigh

You can't really expect fruit second year in best of circumstances from a small bare root tree- so no, it will probably be 3 years down the road if you take good care of it and it's in a good spot.

It should live just fine. I have in the past healed in BR's and planted them quite late and they gather enough energy to survive winter without much growth but grow much better the next season then would a new tree. I've never planted a tree out of cold storage this late, however. Hopefully it will begin leafing out promptly.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 10:42AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

"Will it grow enough to bear fruit next year?"

It really depends on where you are located. If you are located in a place with fairly long summers (as I am) then you should expect some fruit from your peach tree next year.

If you are in zone 6 in the north near the Great lakes near the northern coasts then your season will be shorter and you may not get enough growth to harvest anything next year.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 10:33PM
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alan haigh

Olpea, do you really think she can expect fruit next year from a tree coming out of cold storage and planted late May, even in the mid-west? That would assure very sparse growth this season from my experience. Your autumn doesn't continue that far beyond mine.

I expect you've never planted a tree that late, but cold storage trees often take a couple weeks even to begin growth.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 7:40AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

"I expect you've never planted a tree that late, but cold storage trees often take a couple weeks even to begin growth."

Last year Raintree offered a very late special to get rid of their inventory. I ordered a Baby Crawford peach and a Hardired nect. I can't remember when I actually received them, but looked on my paperwork and the Raintree papers show the order was processed on 5-27, so they would have went into the ground after that.

The trees grew quite a bit last summer, but not as much as normal. This spring there were quite a few blooms on both trees. I'm certain they would have fruited, but I dug both of them up this spring and moved them. I didn't try to get much root when I dug them out, so they aborted all the flowers.

I think there would be more problems with something like apples or Euro plums, but as you know peach trees tolerate heat very well, and so don't seem to mind as much being planted late.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 8:53AM
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alan haigh

My late planted peach trees are bare roots that have already leafed out, but as a dry farmer I always want to get things in the ground as early as possible. These late planted peaches never give me much growth first season and I've done this many trees many seasons.

Were your trees already leafing out when you received them? That can be helpful, actually, if it's in earliest stages, because out of refrigeration trees can take a while to get started. If the trees are too far you miss the first surge of root growth which is what runts them out, I think. You have demanding large leaves then that suffer from destroying the fine roots.

Trees I get form West Coast nurseries are often starting to leaf out when I receive them, but not far enough to cause runting because root surge has just gotten into gear and not much energy has been expended.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 11:10AM
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I planted one of the Raintree refrigerated trees the 2nd week in May, and it was leafing out in a week.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 12:56PM
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Since the tree was pulled out of it's source of water and nourishment, the clock has been ticking away as it is drying out and has a limited survival opportunity. If you were to let the remaining roots promptly plunge into a pool of nutritious water and soak for a day or two to recharge, the plant would have a full tank of fuel before starting the next challenge. No longer having a complete set of roots, the tree will not be able to supply all the intact branches with their usual provision of fluid. Pruning away about a third or so of the upper branch structure has value.A longtime fruit pro told me, that for a bare root peach tree, to remove all branches until you are left with a 3 foot tall 'whip'. As the roots grow and new shoots develop, remove all new shoots except for 3 or 4 near the top that are growing in different directions. These will become the eventual large scaffold branches that all peach branches will grow out from. I spike the pool water with Super Thrive, but other water-soluble fertilizer can help also. I keep the pool fluid for the tree to get more doses slowly poured on it every now and then after being planted.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 2:41PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


The peach trees from Raintree last year were fully dormant upon arrival. I specifically remember these trees because I planted them so late.

Like I said, they didn't grow as much as normal, but still put on a fair amount of wood. Peaches don't set terminal buds here till about the end of Sept., or even into Oct., so even the late planted peach and nect. had a pretty long growing season.


I almost chuckle when I think about your post. I do the exact opposite of almost everything you've written in your post.

- I don't soak trees before planting.
- I don't prune side branches (because they won't grow back on young peach trees).
- I don't start my scaffolds near the top of a 3' whip. Rather I cut the trees back to 2 or 2.5 feet and start the scaffolds evenly up the trunk.
- I don't use Super Thrive or other water-soluble fertilizers.

Suppose it just goes to show there is no one way to grow fruit trees.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 11:29PM
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alan haigh

Olpea, actually the only trees I've ever received in May were cherry trees from the west coast and they didn't get much growth at all first year. My experience with peaches was always with trees I received early enough but planted late after healing in, which apparently yields a different result. Peaches keep growing pretty late here as well and don't rely on the spring surge to get most of their growth in. You right, me wrong.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 5:47AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I have a similar experience on peaches and cherries. I ordered some very late cherries coming this week because I forgot I had a free spot until now and decided I would get it while I remembered, but I don't expect much growth at all this year. Apples and pears planted late are like cherries, not much growth. Those guys I try to get in in March if I can. Peaches and plums usually do a lot better when late planted, assuming they are in a happy spot.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 10:19PM
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I placed a fruit tree order from a nursery and my only request was that it ship on a Monday.Well it shipped on Monday and there is no way theses trees can be planted in N.H in January.I was going to plant them in 5 gallon buckets in the garage.Any help on this would be greatly appreciated! Thanks Joe

    Bookmark   January 10, 2013 at 8:33AM
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