[NAFEX] Tree Moving

Del Stubbs northernlights2n at yahoo.com
Tue Apr 19 09:19:41 EDT 2005

Yesterday was the big orchard moving day for my neighbor (I posted about this sometime
back). It went much  better than any of us expected. Many of the 50 standard rooted apple
trees had about 3" trunks, still just dormant. My neighbor found a long time nurseryman
who had built 2 special attachments for his big Bobcat. ( a 'Tree Spade' was not possible
both for exhorbant cost per tree, and because road restrictions don't go off till mid
May). His tree digging attachment is basically a 3' by 3' straight blade that he plunges
down into the soil on one side of the tree, slowly angling and lifting until roots and
tree (up to 6' diameter circle) come out of the ground  basically bareroot with a 5
gallon size dirt ball in the center. The smaller trees we put immediatly into some very
large and heavy plastic bags he acquired - and immediatly taped them shut around the
trunk. The largest trees we lifted onto a tarp covered flatbed, misted the roots, added
wet burlap and wet straw and folded the tarp over the whole lot. 
Drove 2 pickup trucks and tailors 30 miles to the new site. There the nurseryman changed
attachments to one more like a large single blade spade and dug 5' to 6' square holes as
fast as we could plant the trees. 4 people per tree was about right - one youngster to
hold it in upright position, two adults with shovels, and another youngster with a hose,
first to mist the roots, then to water. 
It was a stunning thing after 8 hours work to be standing in a newly planted orchard. 
3 years ago I was given a Trailman crab, about 10' tall, 2+", well branched, but we could
only get a small dirt ball around it (nothing like yesteday). I decided then to prune it
only about 30 percent as an experiment.  The second year after transplanting it was up to
10" tip growth and a fine crop of apples. Not what I had expected. My neighbor will of
course be doing major fruit thinning and even more severe pruning. I'll keep you all
posted on how this turns out.
Couple  interesting notes the old timer made: don't bury any sod near roots as the
decomposing heat is very undesirable to roots, and plant south side to new south side as
it has thicker bark to resist sunscald.  ( On some trees we ignored this - instead
planting longest roots toward the strongest winds.)
 A most satisfying day saving an orchard and a friends dream, Del

Del Stubbs  http://www.pinewoodforge.com   zone 3   N. MN

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