Sampling to compare relative root distribution in fruit trees

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Acta Horticulturae



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A sampling method for mapping root distribution was tested in a replicated peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] rootstock trial from the multi-site NC-140 Regional Rootstock Research Project. Sampling was carried out on a subset of five replicate trees of five rootstocks, representing a wide range of tree sizes. Root distribution was determined by collecting nine soil cores in a radial array around a randomly selected quarter section of each tree trunk. Tree roots were separated from the soil, assigned to one of three size classes, dried at 70°C and weighed. Dry weights were analyzed by standard analysis of variance to determine main effects and interactions of rootstock, sampling depth and location. Total root biomass distribution differed among rootstocks, location around the tree and depth in the soil profile. This soil core sampling approach provided an efficient method for comparing distribution of large and fine roots among rootstocks.

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