Why to Graft?

Permaculture is for everyone.

Permaculture is for everyone.

Why to graft fruit trees? A seed from a Granny Smith will grow an apple tree, but not a produce a tree that will produce a true Granny Smith tree. The brilliance of nature insure genetic diversity of apples. Apple trees for the most part must cross pollinate with different cultivars. This causes the child  trees being different form the parent trees.  For a true Granny Smith apple tree reproduction, a scion wood taken from a Granny Smith tree is grafted onto an apple  root stock.  Not just any scion wood can be grafted onto any root stock. Apple must be grafted onto apple root stock.

Grafting describes any of a number of techniques in which a section of a stem with leaf buds is inserted into the stock of a tree. Grafting is useful however, for more than reproduction of an original cultivar. It is also used to repair injured fruit trees or for topworking an established tree to one or more different cultivars. Topworking is the operation of cutting back the branches and top of an established tree and budding or grafting part of another tree on it.

Taken from University of Minnesota Extension

By topworking you can do the following:

  • An undesirable cultivar can be changed by grafting a preferred cultivar to the branches.
  • Cultivars that lack hardiness or have poor crotches (narrow angled) can be made more durable by grafting them on hardy, strong-crotched cultivars such as Hibernal, Virginia, or Columbia Crab.
  • Pollinator cultivars can be grown much sooner by topworking than by planting young trees.
  • New cultivars for trial can be brought into bearing in 2 or 3 years if topworked on stock of bearing age.
  • Interesting novelties can be developed by grafting several cultivars on one tree.

How to collect and store scions

Scions are selected from the previous season’s growth, while they are dormant, but before growth begins in the spring. If the scions are left on the tree until spring, however, there is some danger that the buds will start to grow or be injured during winter. Scions cut in November grow best in Minnesota.

The scions should be tied securely, carefully labeled and placed in moist (not wet) sawdust or moss or wrapped in plastic material. They should be kept in a cool, moist place where they will remain fresh and dormant until spring.

When to graft

It is best to graft in the spring, from the time the buds of understock trees are beginning to open, until blossom time. The usual time is April or early May.

Grafting your own trees helps to save money when establishment of food forests. I have plans to grows hundreds if not thousands of trees on my three acres, and at $20+ dollars per tree I would need lots of money of lots of time to accomplish this. Instead I am purchasing a few cultivars from apples, pears, plums, and peaches and will then obtain scion woods from them. Then graft them onto rootstock saving tons of money. My plan right now is to get those cultivars started, and get my nursery up and going. Loving it right now, but lots of work is in front of me.

Thanks, Chris

Please comment or hhit me up on Twitter @freedomfarmtv

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