The practice of growing grafted or budded trees in the ground for one or two years then lifting them for sale goes back centuries, well before modern pots and potting mixes were developed.
The practice has a number of shortcomings. A substantial proportion of the root system is left behind and the bits that do remain on the tree usually have damaged ends.
If you do plant such a tree make sure to trim cut and broken roots cleanly.
Field production can also lead to the build up of pests and diseases including Woolly Aphid and Club Root. Crop rotation must be practised and chemicals used to attempt to control or minimise problems. Weather can dramatically affect production through water-logging or drought stress.
The biggest drawback is slower establishment after re-planting. Trees with an intact root system will undoubtedly recover and establish more quickly.
Pot production avoids these problems by making possible controlled root conditions in sterile media, efficient water use, less land requirement and the opportunity to minimise chemical controls. Pots are re-used, after washing, and spent potting media is mixed, in our case, with farm manure and green matter to produce a great topdressing for our pastures.
Trees grown in root training pots arrive with a superior root system undamaged by being dug out of the ground. Trees therefore have a complete root system ready to establish quickly and without damaged parts that might allow disease entry.
Trees not sold by mail order as whips (one yr old trees) are grown on in larger pots (pictured) for sale through the nursery trade and direct from our farm.
Straight roots, no girdling, no broken roots – you can’t get that in a round pot or a bare-rooted tree!