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Root system development and field establishment: effect of seedling quality

Abstract

Root development is critical to successful establishment after seedlings are outplanted on a forest restoration site. There is an array of practices nursery practitioners and foresters use to ensure seedlings develop quality root systems to aid in outplanting success. To this end, a select number of topics are examined on how they effect root system quality and the linkage between these culturing practices (i.e., nursery root culturing practices), good root morphological and physiological quality and successful field establishment. The following discussion first describes why root development is critical for seedlings to avoid planting stress and successfully transition into field establishment. This is followed by reviewing the seasonality of root growth patterns, and how nursery cultural practices that create optimum levels of nutrients and non-structural carbohydrates affect root growth. Bareroot and container-grown stocktypes are discussed in relation to how their ability to grow roots affects seedling establishment. Lastly, nursery practices related to bareroot root culturing and container type selection for container-grown seedlings are examined on how they can affect seedling root form and field establishment. By focussing on these topics, the intent was to gain a renewed perspective on the importance of root system quality to ensure seedling establishment after outplanting on a forest restoration site.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Joanne MacDonald (Natural Resources Canada, Canadian For Serv—Atlantic Forestry Centre) for conducting a thorough review of this manuscript during the final stages of development. We also would like to thank Dennis Schmidling and Kirsten Norris for their assistance with graphic illustrations. The participation of Vladan Ivetić in this manuscript project was supported by the Serbian Ministry of Science and Education (451-03-68/2021-14/200169).

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Both SCG and VI were involved in the conceptualization of the manuscript content, search for relevant publications and synthesis of this information into the concepts presented here within.

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Grossnickle, S.C., Ivetić, V. Root system development and field establishment: effect of seedling quality. New Forests (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11056-022-09916-y

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Keywords

  • Root system quality
  • Seasonal patterns
  • Seedling nutrient and non-structural carbohydrates loading
  • Stocktype performance
  • Nursery root culturing practices
  • Field establishment