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Bare root trees question

 
Jesse Newcome
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In the fall I ordered around 30 bare root fruit and nut trees from Arbor Day. I was a noob about the whole thing. They were guaranteed to ship for fall planting, but I didn't think at the time that it meant the possibility of getting them at the very end off official fall, which was pretty much already winter for me. I called them and they explained how it didn't get cold enough there for them to go dormant any sooner and had I read the instructions thoroughly, I would have known to have holes pre-dug and soil covered in the event that their first frost brushed up to close against my first snow. I guess when you order by phone, they explain this better. Maybe I should just learn to read before I do things.

But anyway... I wasn't interested in digging thirty some holes out in the snow, so I left the trees bare root as they came in the bag, outside. I was hoping that they would stay asleep and I could plant them when the snow melted. I poured water over the roots every now and them in hopes that it might help keep them alive. This week, the snow has melted and it hit 40s yesterday and is supposed to get into 50s today. So the question is, if I go out and plant all these today, is there a chance that any of them will survive or will I just be wasting my time?
 
Renate Howard
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Posts: 755
Location: zone 6b
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If you scratch the bark on a few there should be a green layer just under - this indicates the tree is still alive. If some are alive, there's no need to risk injuring more, I'd plant them in a nursery bed for the year and transplant the ones that make it. I've always had bad luck with Arbor Day trees - they're very small and fragile, and in my experience usually don't make it, even when I do everything right.

BTW, there are far more reputable places to buy trees from, in the future. Arbor Day acts like a charity but really they just sell cheap trees, and you get what you pay for. If you go through Musser Forests or Burnt Ridge you can still get inexpensive trees but they're a lot better quality. websites: www.musserforests.com burntridgenursery.com You've got time to ask for the catalogs, Musser Forests has gorgeous full color photos of most of their stock, and Burnt Ridge has a really well-organized catalog (but if you want cheap seedlings call them because they'll often sell you volunteers from their improved stock for a good price - I got some gorgeous red hazelnuts that way!)
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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You didn't mention where you're located, but it sounds to me like "Cold Winter/Short Growing Season" - 'The North'.

When dealing with harsh environments, I find it really pays to buy trees raised near your location, or at least in the same conditions. For cold winter areas, there are 2 tree nurseries that I trust.

One is Lawyer Nursery in Plains, MT - USDA Zone 5
and St. Lawrence Nursery in Potsdam, NY - USDA Zone 3

Lawyers is wholesale, and has great prices, but minimum orders. Some of their trees are from warmer west WA.
St. Lawrence grows 'em all in Zone 3. Great selection of hardy trees.

Both are well respected by their customers.

 
Jesse Newcome
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Thanks, I'll check out some of the mentioned places. And yep, I'm in cold Buffalo. I scratched and they were all green so I popped them in the ground today. We'll see what happens, but there's plenty room for more so it's all good.
 
Cortland Satsuma
Posts: 319
Location: (Zone 7-8/Elv. 350) Powhatan, VA (Sloped Forests & Meadow)
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Hi Jesse,
Best wishes to you on your arbor lot. I do agree with the other poster on their quality. Another local source for cheap seedlings is your local state forestry department. Most states have a program to sell to residents only, who want native trees on their property. Here in VA, if buying a huge quantity, the prices are under a dollar each. Do take into account that seedlings take a long time to grow; be sure you know how long for what you are looking to buy.
 
Renate Howard
pollinator
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Location: zone 6b
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But quality seedlings get established faster because their roots are able to grow into a more natural shape and they suffer less from drought so they often catch up in growth with the larger trees over time and wind up being the healthier ones in the long run, imho. Potted trees are definitely risky - their roots could have been growing in circles in the container and could girdle themselves as the tree grows.
 
Cortland Satsuma
Posts: 319
Location: (Zone 7-8/Elv. 350) Powhatan, VA (Sloped Forests & Meadow)
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@Renate,

Good Point! That is why I do buy seedlings! One can buy bare root from different companies at either differing years growth or by height. One will pay a hefty premium for taller bare root. I have a bought a mix over the past year of sizes; in a years time, some of the tiny seedlings have surpassed those that were older. That being said, If buying any nut trees, I will buy containered trees since waiting up to 20 years for first crop is longer than we care to wait!
 
Dan Grubbs
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Location: northwest Missouri, USA
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I also high recommend your state department of natural resources (or some variation thereof). I live in Missouri which has a reforestation program and the state's nursury offers native trees for residents at a very, very affordable price. I purchased 40 fruit and nut seedlings that were a minimum of 2 1/2 feet tall and the total bill, delivered to my door was $56.00. They all seem to be thriving so far after we planted this spring. But the money saved and buying trees from your state is a bonus.

Good Luck!
 
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