We have about 10 appletrees (about 3 years old), that we'd like to relocate next spring. Curious what the best time of year is to pull them up for transplanting. In spring and then immediately transplant into new site, or this fall/early winter and somehow keep them dormant over winter. Thanks!
How early in spring do you plan on moving? If it's early enough that the trees haven't broken dormancy then it would be simple. Yank em, trim the roots some, and replant them as bare-root trees. Otherwise, I'd wait until you moved, dig them up with a ball of dirt, wrap them in burlap, then try to plant them as quick as possible. Preferably have the sites ready if you're not moving too far away.
They should survive either fine, but obviously digging them up later would be more stressful on the plant. The less time spent out of ground the better.
I guess it's possible you could dig them in fall and overwinter them in a sand bed? I'll let someone else comment on that as I'm not sure. Pretty sure that's what nurseries do though.
If you wait until they're dormant you shouldn't have any troubles with digging them up this winter if you have to. Keep them as bare roots healed into a sand or other light weight growing medium for the winter and plant them out in early spring. Make sure the roots stay moist and get them planted before they break dormancy.
Two times would be 1) After the trees are dormant, but before the ground freezes, and 2) After the ground thaws, but before the trees break dormancy. If you expect the critter pressure to be higher in the trees' new area, I would wait for the late winter thaw. Otherwise, I'd probably plant in the fall so that the tree will be able to grow some roots during the late fall/early winter. Studies have shown that root growth continues when the soil temperatures are above 40 F.
Page 13 Mentions Root Growing Conditions