Jul 20, 2021

Bare Root Processing

For those who are not familiar with the nursery industry, early spring is when many growers receive liners from the west coast. These trees come in stacked on refrigerated semi-trucks, bundled in groups of 5 or 10. Typically these trucks deliver about 4,000 trees at a time, a number that varies based on the size of the plant material.

There are multiple strategies to handle this incoming plant material. At Goodmark we receive our material in February, allowing us to better utilize labor during the off-season. This saves us from reorganizing crews to process liners during the spring dig. We tag the trees, trim the roots to encourage new growth, then top and trim the branches to spec based on size. It is important to make the process as efficient as possible, using lean-flow concepts. We believe in making the process compact with limited steps between stations and while consistently removing production bottlenecks.

When processing bare root trees in the winter there are some considerations to keep in mind. The early shipped trees need a temperature-controlled building, in which temperatures need to be maintained between 28°F and 36°F to maintain dormancy. The roots also need to be mulched in and never allowed to dry out.

If space or labor in winter is limited, shipping in material during March and April will still work well, but comes with new challenges. The west-coast is in hardiness zone 8b, so their trees will want to break dormancy earlier than in Illinois (5b). This makes the timing of both shipping and planting critical, with careful consideration of both west-coast and Illinois weather. Unseasonably warm weather could quickly become disastrous.

If you ever have questions about how we streamline our bare root process and other strategies we use to make it more efficient, we are always available to answer questions.


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