Greenhouse Canada

Propagation tray design supports better tree root growth

July 18, 2016  By Vineland Research/Innovation Centre

July 18, 2016, Vineland Station, Ont. – Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (Vineland) is revolutionizing propagation systems for the nursery sector through a tray design supporting superior tree root growth.

There is an increasing demand for container tree seedling production – plug trays – in North America and a greater focus on higher quality root architecture. Many current propagation tray designs lead to root malformation making seedlings less robust after transplantation and increasing tree mortality.

“We’ve been studying this problem since 2014 and have found containers with the largest cell volume and the highest degree of exposure to air resulted in superior results,” said Dr. Darby McGrath, research scientist, Nursery & Landscape, Vineland.


“In collaboration with Kingsville-based A.M.A. Plastics Ltd. (A.M.A.), we’re developing a woody perennial air-pruning propagation tray that maximizes tree growth and limits root defects.”

The new tray is designed for use in conjunction with the Ellepot™ system, a bounded transplantable growing medium which A.M.A. produces for North American growers. 
“We are excited to partner with Vineland on this innovation. The propagation trays fit well with our strategic mandate and will help us increase our competitive edge,” said Rick Bradt, managing director, A.M.A.

The design of the tray, for which a patent protection is pending, allows the substrate to remain essentially free floating, maximizing airflow to the root system and promoting ideal root architecture while improving overall tree performance in later stages of growth.

In spring 2017, the tray will be distributed in Canada and the United States by A.M.A. with other territories to follow.

For more information, please contact Dr. Darby McGrath at 905-562-0320, ext.766, or

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