In trees (grown in place from seed) how much does the development of a large taproot depend on environmental conditions vs. genetic potential of the tree?
I know that there are chemical signals sent out by plants under an insect attack that will be detected by nearby plants which then increase what defenses they may have, do you know of anything similar happening during drought stress?
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Very few plants produce a taproot. It's mostly the genetic tendency of the plant. Most of the water and nutrients are near the surface, so for most plants, it doesn't make any sense to create a taproot. In most forests, the nutrients are not deep in the soil. They're not even in the soil. They're in the life above the ground. PLants mostly adapt to the conditions they evolved to grow in, and for very few of them does a tap root make sense.
Furthermore, i've heard Paul Wheaton say in podcast that taproots do not survive transplantation.
Though i've heard many say that most trees don't actually have a taproot as adults, i'm planning for a semi-arid climate in which some trees only survive if they can withstand long hot summers by reaching deep water.
Can someone weigh in on this? All the posts i've found on taproots make little of their importance but when you see the lone trees surviving in Moroccan deserts, their importance appears pretty damn critical to me, at least in some cases.
Can a taproot be cut and will it grow back?
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Most fruit including apples, plums, quince, mulberries, etc. don't have taproots. Some, like pawpaws and madrones, do have taproots. Transplanting a pawpaw or madrone needs to be done with great care. It is much better to move it when it is young. I try to keep the taproot intact before moving it. I have about a 85% success rate with transplanting them. I don't cut the taproot. Deeper roots can tap the minerals deep in the soil. Most fruit trees have a combination of roots that are in the topsoil and some in the deeper soil. Paul and I disagree about this. I have transplanted innumerable mature fruit trees, so I am speaking about what I have felt and seen with my own hands. I think special methods for very arid climates makes a lot of sense. I live in a climate with abundant rainfall, so someone else will have to give you special information about that.