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Proceedings of the International Plant Propagator's Society

Vol. 39


Carl E. Whitcomb

pp: 170-173

We root cuttings routinely. We plant seeds, they germinate and develop roots. Everyone knows that roots are important, so why all the fuss about roots? It appears there are efficient and inefficient roots. There are aggressive roots that secure and establish the plant quickly and there are the "welfare" roots that wander aimlessly doing just enough to get by.

Conducting research is a bit like being a sleuth, in that you are always probing a looking for clues. There had been clues suggesting a variation in root efficiency, but they could not be confirmed. In the fall of 1985, a total of 720 trees were excavated to try to determine why some had grown well while others grew poorly. All of the trees (180 of each of four species) were the same age, had been grown the same way and on the same soil for two years. The procedure used was to sharpen the teeth and sides of a 24-inch backhoe bucket and dig every tree. Before all the trees were dug it was clear that a wide variation in root systems

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