Journal of Environmental Horticulture, 2014, 32 (2): 103-113.
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Abstract: Bernard Goyette, Marlène Piché, Michael Brownbridge and Darby McGrath. There is a need to develop methods that would allow plant health and survival potential to be quantified in real time, particularly in the different phases of bare-root handling. Such methods would allow the impact of different stresses experienced throughout storage and transport on establishment success and growth of the bare-root plant to be quantitatively defined. This review concentrates on the impact of pre-lifting, pre-transplanting and post-transplanting considerations and identifies tools that can be applied for monitoring plant quality. Root and shoot culturing, lifting and transplanting timing, water stress and storage/transport handling are all significant factors in the post-transplant performance of bare-root material. Different postharvest tools and indicators are also examined for their efficacy and contribution to plant quality. Chlorophyll fluorescence and root respiration are useful as indicators of water stress and dormancy; however, more practical equipment should be developed in both instances for greater adoption of these practices. Hydrophilic gel slurries can be used either during storage and immediately prior to transplant as an additional prevention of desiccation but will not restore vigor to damaged plants. Cold storage at optimum temperature should be adapted to maintain the target relative humidity; otherwise the storage period should not exceed 4 weeks for unprotected bare-root plants. Many improvements have been made in the ability to predict the effects of stresses experienced by bare-root material. However, more equipment, metrics, species and site specific research would enhance monitoring of bare-root quality.