Impact of Tree Size and Container Volume at Planting, Mulch,
and Irrigation on Acer rubrum L. Growth and Anchorage
Edward F. Gilman, Jason Miesbauer, Chris Harchick, and Richard C. Beeson
Abstract: Some trees uproot in storms apparently due to root deflections that occur during nursery production. Root deflection in a nursery container may lead to poor anchorage because of insufficient root growth into the landscape soil, and container volume/tree size at planting may influence root deflection. This study was designed to evaluate establishment, root growth, and anchorage six years after planting Acer rubrum L. trees of four different sizes from four corresponding container volumes and maintaining them with two irrigation regimes. Impact of mulch on establishment and root growth was also evaluated. Trees from the largest containers grew slowest in the first three years due primarily to water stress. Trunk tilt during winching tests increased due to greater root deflection, less mass of the root-soil plate, and reduced root growth into the landscape soil with increasing container volume and tree size. In contrast to the poorly anchored larger trees that had most of their large roots retained in the original planted root ball volume, the largest roots on trees from smaller containers grew freely into landscape soil. This resulted in stable trees with many stiff, straight roots pushing down against mineral landscape soil outside the root ball during winching. Trees planted from smaller containers appear to anchor sooner than trees from larger containers and would be more stable in a storm.
Keywords: Bending Stress; Container Production; Root-soil Plate; Straight Roots.