There are two main field growing systems used by growers in Oregon, balled and burlapped and bare-root.

Balled and Burlapped (B & B) plants are harvested with an undisturbed soil ball contained around their roots and held in place with a piece of burlap. Generally larger sizes of woody plants, such as trees and shrubs, are grown for harvest in this manor. Some growers also use boxes or wire baskets to contain the root and soil mass.

Freshly dug balled and burlapped conifers.

Bare-root crops are harvested in the fall and early winter when deciduous crops have entered dormancy. During harvest, most of the soil removed from the roots and left behind in the field.

Bundles of deciduous trees mulched with sawdust.

Once dug, usually by machine, plants are graded, bunched and moved into cold storage. Some crops may be hardy enough to remain outside during the winter months in  western Oregon, if roots are properly protected with mulch. Roots need adequate levels of moisture to keep hydrated without causing problems with rot or disease.

Both systems have similar site requirements. Main considerations for any field production system are the topography and the soil type. These two factors influence the whole operation from start to finish. Relatively level land, located away from flooding areas are best suited  for  field crops. Availability of irrigation water is  an important issue for any production nursery- field or container system.


  • Generally less demanding fertilization and water requirements.
  • Less need for winter protection while in ground.
  • Cold storage facilities needed for bare-root storage, extending sales period.
  • Usually requires overall less continual labor then a container nursery.
    • Harvest limited to specific time of year, usually fall and winter.
    • Very labor intensive harvest.
    • B&B much heavier to ship resulting in higher shipping costs.
    • Longer production cycles.
    • Cold storage facilities needed for bare-root-more expense.
    • Requires harvest machinery for most efficiency.