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Arboriculture & Urban Forestry Online
Volume 45, Issue 6 — November 2019

Comparing the Missouri Gravel Bed and a Wood Chip Production Method for Tree Growth

Kelby Fite, Liza Holmes, and Elden LeBrun

Abstract: Tree root defects from current nursery production practices influence short- and long-term tree performance and survivability. The Missouri Gravel Bed (MGB) system, a production method using gravel as a substrate, has been used to prevent many of these defects from occurring. MGB production involves planting bare root stock into a bed of gravel with frequent drip irrigation in order to produce a root system with relatively few defects. MGB production methods have also been purported to allow for summer transplanting of many species, as opposed to traditional dormant transplanting.Because gravel has low water- and nutrient-holding capacity, biochar (5% by volume) was incorporated into one plot as a possible means of improving both water- and nutrient-holding capacity over gravel alone. Wood chip mulch was also investigated as a growing substrate in place of the gravel in a growing system. In 2015, three species, Quercus bicolor (swamp white oak), Taxodium distichum (baldcypress), and Tilia cordata (littleleaf linden), were studied in pea gravel (PG), biochar-amended pea gravel (BC), and wood chip mulch bed (MB) growing environments. Very few differences occurred over the growing season with above- or belowground parameters indicating that the minimal-to-no-cost, more readily available substrate of wood chip mulch should be considered in these growing systems.

Keywords: Comparing the Missouri Gravel Bed and a Wood Chip Production Method for Tree Growth

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