Keith Davey Chinese pistache Right: Fraxinus velutina (Arizona Ash) roots
Photos courtesy of L.E. Cooke

Headquartered in Visalia, CA, L.E. Cooke, previously a garden nursery division, operates on a smaller scale in grafted liner production to nursery trade. The company’s passion lies in growing top notch fruit trees and shrubs for home gardeners ever since its founding in 1944. Propagation trays and containers from Proptek in recent years has helped L.E. Cooke achieve these self-set goals.

“What we have been able to find out is that the entire system works well,” Vice President of L.E. Cooke, Phillip Cox says. “The slot that carries the A pots together is in a 10” x 20” format and sits some of our existing equipment. [The container itself] has windows in the sides that allow roots to grow out and air prune, which forces them to branch another lateral root. It has been beneficial for a lot of reasons along the lines of that.”

L.E. Cooke began using these types of containers and trays a little over six years ago, switching their entire production to focus on these products, Cox says. The products are designed to give commercial nurseries long term financial benefits by having a model that enables greater yields with lower cost inputs. This has been proven especially helpful with tree growth and root sustainability that L.E. Cooke practices.

“We use the shallow container and the shallow tree pot, and we found that that container gives us a good root system on the trees. It allows us to grow a tree that’s just big enough for our customers to transplant,” says Cox.

The multitude of production tweaks made since the adoption this product has been a benefit to the nursery, most notably with watering methods. Cox explains how by using drip irrigation methods, L.E. Cooke has been able to rid of overhead which in turn saves water and uses less fertilizer.

Using Proptek for what is sold, the containers have played a strong role in the company’s bottom line. The product provides a separate flow of income that had not before been realized and aligns perfectly with their brand. This has played a positive role in profitability and led to strong growth overall.

“It’s been beneficial because it allowed for another revenue stream when we haven't had that before,” Cox says. “We toyed with it after building our new greenhouse, growing other items just kind of all worked out together.”

The proven benefits in quality and profit have Cox convinced of an even more positive future for L.E Cooke.