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Bare-rooted seedlings are normally root-pruned prior to transplanting to facilitate the planting process. This study was designed to determine the effect of root-pruning on subsequent survival and growth of transplanted beech under competitive conditions. Two-year-old beech seedlings (Fagus sylvatica L.) were transplanted in a mixture of grasses with below-ground competition for water and nutrients and grown for 2 yrs with no irrigation or fertilization. Before transplanting, the root systems were pruned to 7, 13 and 19 cm; alternatively, coarse roots (>2 mm) or fine roots (<2 mm) were removed and unpruned plants were used as controls. Survival and growth were compared with seedlings grown under standard conditions. Mortality increased in correspondence with severity of pruning. Total plant dry weight (DW) was lower and root:shoot ratio higher in competitive compared with standard conditions. Removal of fine roots depressed plant DW under both standard and competitive conditions, whereas removal of coarse roots did so only under competitive conditions. The results indicate that roots of beech should not be pruned prior to transplanting, regardless of transplanting conditions, and that fine roots are necessary for regrowth in transplanted beech.