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Proceedings of the International Plant Propagator's Society

Vol. 50

Avoiding the Staking Dilemma

Carl E. Whitcomb

pp: 513-521

If trees only grew upright when staked and supported, our forests would be a mass of horizontal entanglement and the lumberjack would never have to yell "timber". When a seed germinates, the primary root or radical quickly extends downward to support the developing new plant. The tip of the taproot suppresses secondary root development until its vigor begins to decline as oxygen and conditions for root functions deteriorate with soil depth. The tip of the taproot controls branching below ground much like the terminal bud controls branching above ground. If you want the top of a tree or a side limb to branch, cut off the tip. Roots respond the same way.

The young tree branches, and except for the occasional rabbit or deer damage, the branches remain present and functional until surrounding trees or other vegetation provides sufficient shade to cause their death. By the time the lowest horizontal branches have died by lack of light, generally several years have passed and successive

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