I don't have any experience at planting rootlets (field grown).. but have transplanted several wild roots to my place for seed production.
I always dig them, and plant them the same day, keeping them moist in between digging and replanting.
When I made my seed producing bed I put 42 nice old roots in a bed and the next spring all of them except 1 came up.
Again most of those roots were dug and planted back in the same day.
5 of those roots I got from Billy Taylor. I wanted to mix in some Seng from another source, which is supposed to help genetics.
3 of the roots (now these were big old mature roots) that I got from Billy, the top they sent up that first year was a little stunted and had funky leaf development (sort of crinkled looking) but the next spring the tops looked normal and were larger size.
Billy had to store those roots for a little while before he mailed them to me.
I think that when you take a root out of the ground, and store it for any time frame, even in the best of conditions, well it is not like being undisturbed in good ole mother earth... and there will likely be some ill side effects. The bud spur is especially tender and likely to suffer most from the disturbance.
I do hope that a lot of yours that did not come up this year will come up next year and those smaller tops come back normal size next year.
I did see that happen in those few older seed bed roots I got from Billy.
TNHunter: Thank you so very much for a response from experience that directly answers my question. Sounds like the issues mine are having. So it is most likely the time frame they were held until sold and being shipped. At least as far as the stunted ones. I guess I probably lost the ones that aren't up this year. I think I will give it a year and transplant the survivors all into my fenced in area where I wan't seed production, and take the rootlet thing as lesson learned.
Still gonna get an exact count of what did come up tomorrow and see if the seller will make it right. If not that would stink because their seed is awesome and I hate to kick them to the curb for not making the lack of rootlet survival right.
K_duce: I kinda thought it would be odd there would be soil issues since my soil sample tests came back pretty darn good other than almost too much calcium. There's a slew of good companions and even some wild seng that looks normal.