Packaging nursery crops
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Packaging Nursery Crops. Student Objectives. Describe the three types of packaging of nursery crops. Describe how to ball and burlap (B&B) stock properly. Explain the advantage and disadvantages of B&B, container, and bare root. Describe the types of storage used for nursery stock.

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Packaging Nursery Crops

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Packaging nursery crops

Packaging Nursery Crops

Student objectives

Student Objectives

  • Describe the three types of packaging of nursery crops.

  • Describe how to ball and burlap (B&B) stock properly.

  • Explain the advantage and disadvantages of B&B, container, and bare root.

  • Describe the types of storage used for nursery stock.

Student objectives1

Student Objectives

  • Describe the techniques of defoliation of plants before storage.

  • List and describe the problems that might occur to plants in storage.

  • Describe the process of grading with calipers.


Balled and burlapped

Bare root


Cold storage

Common or air-cooled storage.



Gas Chambers

Mechanical beaters



What are the three types of packaging

What are the three types of packaging?

  • Bare root: involves harvesting trees without taking soil from the field.

  • Balled and burlapped: harvest plants with a soil ball around the roots. Usually covered with burlap.

  • Containerized: grown and then sold while in containers. The containers may be made of peat, clay, or plastic.

How do i b b a plant

How do I B&B a plant?

  • This procedure can be done at any time of the growing season, but is most successful in the spring or fall when plant is dormant.

  • Remember most of the tree’s feeder roots are in the top 12-15 inches of topsoil, and that up to 60% of the feeder roots can extend beyond the tree’s drip line.

  • B&B plants may lose up to 95% of feeder roots during transplanting.

How do i b b a plant1

How do I B&B a plant?

  • The materials needed for B&B are a spade, twine, burlap, nursery pinning nails, a caliper, and a pair of hand pruners or a knife.

  • B&B may also be done with a mechanical digger. It is generally considered more efficient. It is also an expensive piece of equipment, may be limited in where and when it can dig, and may use special baskets and burlap.

Directions for ball and burlapping

Directions for ball and burlapping

  • Determine which plant is to be dug. Is it the right time for this species?

  • Loosely wrap the plant branches with twine to keep them out of the way while digging.

  • Determine the size of the ball. Ball should be 1/4 of the tree height or should be 12 inches wider than the tree caliper.

  • Remove debris from the digging area.

Directions for ball and burlapping1

Directions for ball and burlapping

  • Mark the diameter of the ball with the spade.

  • Use a spade to dig a one foot deep circle trench around the ball. Try to ensure that the root system remains intact.

  • With the spade, begin tapering the ball and digging under the plant.

  • Place a sheet of burlap in the hole and slide it under the root ball.

Directions for ball and burlapping2

Directions for ball and burlapping

  • Secure the burlap with pinning nails and twine.

  • Remove the ball gently from the ground.

  • Transport the ball to a permanent location.

Advantages to b b

Advantages to B&B

  • Can be dug and held for a period of time.

  • Digging and transplanting season can be extended.

  • Better for difficult to transplant species.

  • Larger plants can be harvested.

Disadvantages to b b

Disadvantages to B&B

  • May need specialized equipment.

  • Soil conditions can limit work.

  • Soil balls are heavy and large.

  • Product is hard to move.

  • Shipping is expensive.

  • More skilled labor is needed.

  • Long production cycle; 2-10 years

Moving big trees

Moving big trees

Moving really big trees

Moving really big trees

Packaging nursery crops

  • Moving really, really big trees

Advantages of bare root

Advantages of Bare Root

  • Harvested plants are lightweight.

  • Shipping is more economical.

  • Initially less expensive to produce.

  • Can be dug in dormant seasons.

Disadvantages of bare root

Disadvantages of Bare Root

  • Can only be used with smaller stock.

  • Limited digging/transplanting time.

  • Special storage facilities needed.

  • Only successful with certain plants.

  • Possible decay in storage.

  • Only used with deciduous plants.

Advantages to containers

Advantages to Containers

  • Rapid production cycle.

  • Faster turnover of invested capital.

  • Plants are more uniform.

  • Reduced shipping weight.

  • No need for land rotation.

  • Greater number of plants in a smaller area.

  • Less handling/transplant/root shock damage.

Disadvantages to containers

Disadvantages to Containers

  • Can only be used with smaller stock.

  • Soil dries out quickly.

  • Susceptible to cold/winter damage.

  • Plants can become pot bound.

  • Growing media must be provided.

  • Susceptible to blowing over.

  • More irrigation needed.

Pot in pot system

Pot-in-pot system

  • Greatly reduces water needs

  • Eliminates blow-over

  • Easier to handle

How is nursery stock stored

Common or air-cooled storage:

These are insulated under ground or frame structures where air is pulled through to cool the plants, but the air is not cooled mechanically.

Cold/refrigerated storage:

These are separate buildings or large rooms that are mechanically kept at 27-29 degrees or 32-40 degrees F, depending on the stored materials.

How is nursery stock stored?

Either of these require careful control of humidity.



  • Defoliation: the mechanical, chemical or cultural removal of leaves. It is done before plants are put into storage because if the leaves were to remain on the plant in cold storage the plant would lose too much moisture and would die. The techniques used in defoliation include . . .

Techniques of defoliation

Techniques of defoliation

  • Chemical Sprays: leaf removal occurs in a short time after being sprayed and there is little to no plant damage.

  • Mechanical beaters: a machine that beats the leaves off the plant – leaf removal is very quick, but there is more labor involved, more handling of the stock, and greater chance of plant damage.

Chemical sprays

Chemical Sprays

Two men use chemical sprays to defoliate a cotton plot in Georgia.

Techniques of defoliation1

Techniques of defoliation

  • Gas chambers: special airtight chambers that are filled with ethylene gas, which cause quick leaf drop. This is common for rose bushes.

  • Sweating: a process where plants are loosely bundled, piled in stacks on pallets, and thoroughly watered. Heat builds up causing leaf defoliation. Can cause plant damage if plants get over-heated.

Plant storage guidelines and information

Plant Storage Guidelines and Information

  • In the initial handling after plants have been harvested, they are immediately graded and sorted, and then either stored or merchandised.

  • Before they are bundled, they are labeled and graded by size.

  • When storing, plants are usually stacked on wooden pallets in stalls with their roots to the aisles.

Packaging nursery crops

Baileys Nurseries produces about 7,500,000 bare root trees per year!

Storage problems

Storage Problems

  • Drying of roots: a relative humidity of 80-85 percent, and covering the roots with sphagnum moss, cedar or fir shavings should prevent this.

  • Mold development: store only clean, disease free stock and watch for mold development. Also dust storage area with fungicide or use ultraviolet lights to prevent.



  • Shaped like a pair of tweezers. They are opened and placed so that each “arm” is touching the trunk. A measurement of inches is read off of the caliper.

  • Trees with more than a 4-inch trunk should be measured 12 inches off the ground and trees less than 4 inches should be measured 6 inches off the ground.



  • List the three types of packaging of nursery crops.

  • How does one ball and burlap (B&B) stock properly?

  • Explain the advantage and disadvantages of B&B, container, and bare root.

  • What is Pot-in-Pot production?

  • What are the types of storage used for nursery stock?

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