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Question for Robert Kourik: Taproots, airpruning & direct seeding

Posts: 125
Location: Gold Coast Hinterland QLD, Australia
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Hi all,
I'd love to hear thoughts and specific experience or knowledge on growing plants and trees with tap roots. Would love it if Robert Kourik is able to provide some feedback too.

My situation is that my wife and I have just purchased a 10 acre property, and so I want to plant HEAPS of plants and trees, but want to get to know the land a bit better before planting long term trees.
I would like to get started on planting trees from seed, so was thinking of using forest tubes with elevated bottoms so that they are air pruned, then can either transplant them to larger pots when they get bigger, or transplant directly into the soil.

I found a few wild lemon trees around our area and had a go at growing some, with a very high viability and success rate. Also have lots of avocado seedlings (sprouting from my worm farm), mango seeds, tagasaste seedlings etc etc. Plan on growing mulberry, carob, Rose Gum, Macadamia, Raspberry, Blueberry, Grapes, asparagus, coffee, Tamarind, bamboo etc etc etc the list goes on.

What I would really like to know is how the tap roots are affecting between using different methods, eg:
1. Direct planting inground
2. Planting in ground, then transplanting elsewhere inground
3. Normal seedlings trays/pots
4. Air pruning pots
5. Any other methods

Is it worth planting in trays/pots and transplanting, or is the potential loss of health and vigour too detrimental?

Thanks everyone, appreciate any feedback and advice.

Posts: 78
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Hi Matt, The only way to get a fully-developed taproot is to plant from seed directly where you want the tree to be. After a year or two you can graft a fruiting cultivar if you wish. Remember, very few trees and most fruit trees don't have taproots. Persimmons are an exception. If planting from a tube, bare root or container the taproot of the persimmon tree usually gets destroyed and doesn't grow back. The tree can still flourish as the lateral roots compensate. If you want to transplant young ornamental trees, long tube containers with air-pruning holes/slots at the bottom are the best. The taproot, if there is one, gets air pruned and more laterals are produced. The greater number of laterals makes for less transplant shock. The tube should be 3-5 times taller than it is wide. Taller is better.
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