Written by  Bas van den Ende

Bright future for container-grown fruit trees (part 2)

The benefits of planting container-grown fruit trees may take some time to realise, and far outweigh the negatives.

Ellepot propagation system (continued from last issue)
In the Ellepot propagation system, a Danish invention, trees are grown in propagation plugs that are 120 mm wide and 240 mm deep in a mixture of peat, perlite and steam-treated wood waste, wrapped in paper and placed loosely in special six-cell trays.
Ellepots are manufactured in Tasmania. The tray cells have four open ribs that increase aeration enabling the roots to be air-pruned as they reach the outside. This facilitates the young trees to grow a lot of fine feeder roots.
When the trees are ready to be delivered, they are removed from their trays and singly stacked in their plugs in a bin, much the same as bare-rooted trees. This enables an easy transfer into the orchard in their original plugs.
Benefits to nurseries of Ellepot system
There is no need to move onto new ground, or fumigate if access to new ground is limited.
Trees are easy to work on when grown in Ellepots or black plastic bags and put on racks at waist height, making the whole operation labour-friendly and conforming to OH&S rules.
Trees on racks grown in a shade house are protected from heat and wind.
Tree growth is consistent—no need for growing extra trees to allow for variables in soil, wind, frost and/or animal damage.
Uses about one-third of space compared with the space required to grow the same number of field-grown (liner) trees.
No need for apple rootstock stool beds. Tissue-cultured rootstocks can be used, such as the JM series.
Trees do not need to be dug up, bundled and stored.
Trees can be delivered any time of the year.
To set up a container-grown nursery is expensive, but compares well with a bare-rooted system.
(cont next issue)

See this article in Tree Fruit Oct 2021