Impact of Harvesting Practices on the Finished "Package"

Guidelines for Growing, Installing and Maintaining Healthy Trees

Prepared by the Illinois Tree Specification Review Committee
Nursery Propagation, Growing, Harvesting & Handling:

Definition of "The Package"
Low Profile Basket
High Profile Basket
B & B Hand Dug Package

The package is the tree after it has been harvested and properly prepared for shipping. The package includes the rootball as well as the tree. Any excess soil above the structural roots should be removed prior to digging the rootball. The rootball could be dug with a machine-mounted tree spade and placed in a wire basket lined with a burlap sock. Or, the rootball could be dug by hand. Usually, when a rootball is dug by hand, a machine such as a trencher or backhoe is used to do part of the digging. Both methods of digging are referred to as balled and burlapped (B & B).

B & B (Machine Dug Package)

Low Profile Basket
A low profile basket is one in which the top horizontal ring of the basket is 4 to 6 inches below the shoulder of the rootball. The shoulder of the rootball is the round edge at the perimeter of the rootball. If the basket has loops, for the twine to be tied to, the loops should be at least slightly below the shoulder of the rootball.

Advantages to using a low profile basket are as follows: 1) most of the wire is too
deep to interfere with root growth 2) there are no exposed loops to trip on after
the tree is planted 3) the tree can be straightened more easily if necessary and
4) no rootball materials need to be removed through the initial one year
establishment period.

Low profile baskets work best for smaller rootballs. A larger, heavier rootball
may require more support at the top so it does not break apart during shipping.
For larger rootballs, it may be necessary to use high profile baskets.

High Profile Basket
A high profile basket is one in which the top horizontal ring of the basket
is less than 4 to 6 inches below the shoulder of the rootball, or the loops at
the top of the basket extend over the shoulder of the rootball.

For a high profile basket, it is recommended that any wire less than 4 to 6 inches
below the shoulder of the rootball be removed at time of planting. After the wire
is removed, new sisal twine can be used to secure the remaining portion of the
basket to the tree trunk.

B & B (Hand Dug Package)
Hand dug rootballs are often done for larger trees with larger rootballs. After arootball is shaped, sheets of burlap are cut to fit the rootball. The burlap is secured in place with sisal twine and pinning nails. This method of putting twine on a rootball is referred to as drum lacing.

In order to provide additional support for the rootball as the tree is being moved and shipped, field fence or hog wire is sometimes put around the sides of the rootball. (Chicken wire is not recommended as the holes are too small.)

The field fence is crimped with a wire crimper to make it tight. The top of the field fence is then secured to the tree trunk using the same method that would be used to secure the top of a basket to the tree trunk. In order to protect the bottom of the tree trunk from twine rubbing on it, 2 or 3 layers of burlap can be used to make a collar underneath the twine.

After the tree has been shipped and placed in the planting hole, the field fence can easily be removed by cutting it with wire cutters. The extra twine securing the field fence to the trunk can also easily be removed. The package that remains is completely intact and contains no wire.