Root enhancement process
In container production, trees are shifted multiple times from one container size to a larger one; at each shift, no matter what size, the plant must come from a crop that has followed the R7 process throughout its entire life-cycle. An R7 plant is grown in R7 approved liner container systems only, which include Anderson Band, Ellie Pot and Pioneer Pot. After the liner stage, it is shifted into a R7 approved container as a 1-gallon, 3-gallon or 7-gallon size (Pioneer Pot, Airpot®). It has been grown by trained R7 staff and has followed the R7 root enhancement steps at each shift.
Each tree is inspected for quality and health. The grower will cull any plants that show signs of disease/pest infestation or show any defects according to the Florida Grades & Standards. This inspection primarily focuses on the canopy and trunk structure of the plant, as well as overall plant health.
At the time of each shift, Reason 7 growers have an opportunity to work with the exposed rootball and promote optimum root health. Root shaving - the practice of pruning the outer periphery of a tree’s rootball - is performed each time the tree is transferred to a different container. This is done systematically because root defects can be hidden within the rootball and invisible to the eye.
At the liner stage, the outer periphery of the root ball is removed with hand pruners so that any defective root is cut at a point before the root begins to circle, descend or ascend. At the larger container stages, the outer periphery and bottom of the root ball are shaved with either a machete or a sharp shovel. In addition to removing any potential circling, ascending, descending or matted roots, root shaving will stimulate new root growth.
The root ball is inspected for any root defects that were not corrected by the shaving step. Our trained R7 staff perform both a visual and tactical inspection of the each tree’s root ball. The tactical inspection includes using their fingers to feel for any roots that are diving or returning back into the rootball.
The R7 trained staff will choose the most appropriate tool and method to correct each type of defect identified according to the plant size and type of defect. At this stage, the correction is done manually through teasing and/or selective hand pruning with tools such as hand pruners, machetes and/or sharp shovels.
The first lateral root is identified. The tree is planted at the proper planting depth to ensure this first lateral root is at or near the soil surface. This will allow the root flare to become visible as the tree grows. If the tree is planted too deep, it could cause more root defects and/or plant health issues such as root rot.
The width and depth of the planting hole is important so that when the root ball is placed into the pot, roots are not diverted down, up or around. When back-filling, care is taken to not pack the soil forcefully as this could push the roots down. This is particularly important when the trees are young and the roots are more malleable.
Reason 7 believes that consistent and great outcomes are the result of following superior processes, and staying accountable to them. The Reason 7 process demands that growers train their employees on the process, follow the documented process, and be subject to a routine Reason 7 audits of their crops and processes.