Sunday, February 19, 2017

Grafting Projects in Home Orchard. 2.19.17

New Pear Grafts.  2.19.17
Healed plum whip and tongue graft at one year, done in 2015
It seems seems early, but with buds already swelling, I wanted to get some grafting in.  I think I've done it this early in the past, mid to late February.  Most of the scions are refrigerated in plastic bags, and will keep for several more months if needed.  It's OK if the understock tree is already growing, and for some, that is an advantage.

My grafting goals this year:

Preserve a few varieties from my old trees in Vancouver, so I have them in my new trees in Battleground.

Make something more useful out some of the scrubby Hawthorn trees, by converting them into Chinese Haw trees.  This is an experiment.

Add pollen sources to grow internally on some trees.  I've noticed that the tiny pollinating insects tend to go from flower to flower within a tree.  By having pollen sources in the same tree, maybe there will be better fruit set.

 • As usual, I want to add some novel varieties.  Those will be added as I receive scion, especially the apples from Fedco and possibly some from Home Orchard Society.

•  Seedling fruits may start to bear sooner if grafted onto a mature, bearing fruit tree.  That gives a chance to evaluate the seedling variety several years sooner than letting it mature on its own roots.

• By creating multigraft trees, I have more varieties in less space than I would if they were all on their own rootstocks.  You get pollenizing  varieties for better fruit set, and potentially widely spaced ripening times so that instead of bushels of one apple type all at once, you can pick various types from July to November.

• Taking scion from your own trees, they are free.  Buying scion is usually much, much cheaper than buying trees.  Scion from scion exchanges is also free.

Healed apple whip and tongue graft at 6 months, done in 2014.
Grafts so far.  All of them are whip and tongue.

1.  This week, I grafted pear varieties, I think Anjou and Bartlett, from the old multigraft.  Whatever they are, they are good pears, delicious, proven in this area.  I added both to both of the new pears in my Battleground yard, Rescue and Orcas.

2.  I have a tiny Honeycrisp apple on M27, which is way to dwarfing for that variety.  After maybe 10 years it is still only 2 feet tall and gets one or two apples a year.  I took scion from that "tree" and grafted onto a more vigorous Winecrisp apple tree, one year old on a more vigorous semidwarf rootstock.

3.  I grafted two variegated burgundy on green plum seedlings, from plums that I bought in 2015, onto 2 of the younger plum trees - Toka (onto a rootstock sucker) and Ember.  I grafted one onto the Sweet Treat Pluerry.  I also grafted an American plum seedling onto Ember plum, to see if that would pollenize that tree.   I also grafted some variegated plum seedling onto a higher branch on Methley plum tree.

4.  I grafted several Chinese Haw scions onto suckers or younger trees in the Douglas Hawthorn woodlot.  I hope they take and make those into something productive, and maybe also not grow so top heavy and fall over like the original trees have been doing.  Both are in the Hawthorn genus, Crataegus, so I imagine they will take.

5.  To the Maxie hybrid Asian-American pear, I added Hamese and Hosui.  Last year I added Rescue and unknown Asian Pear from the Battleground yard.   I may convert that Rescue branch into something else, such as Shinseiki or Nijiseiki.  I don't need a bushel of one variety of Asian pear to ripen all at once, and it's nice to have multiple types ripening at potentially different times.

5.  Pending:  3 apple varieties from Fedco, and if I am luck some persimmons from Home Orchard Society.  I have more apple varieties now than I need, so for the most part I'm not planning to add more.  If I'm up to it, I  might make more use of some of the Hawthorne seedlings / suckers as experiments.  Hawthorn appears to be closely-enough related to pears that some pears can be grafted onto some hawthorn rootstock.  Some do better than others.


  1. Wow, nice work, great plum graft work from 2015. I've yet to do a successful one on plums. I'm researched my root-stock compatibility and its not that clear which ones goes on which so I've to try the whip and tongue. I see why yours so nice because you got enough material to work on. I can only do with what little diameter that I have to cut the joint. When I cut the root-stock part I almost cut my finger off. This ye I got more wild stock to work with maybe it will be easier. Persian Green Myrobalan to Myrobalan 29c, I hope this one is a better take. Let me know how well those suckers will take the graft because I've try it this yr also.

    1. Plums graft well for me. I wish I knew what to say to help you with yours. Please DON'T cut your finger off :-) I usually use pencil-size in diameter for plum, apple, pear, and about everything else. Length-wise, once I have it put together, I cut back to 2 or 3 buds. I feel like it can't support more than that.

  2. I can see why commercially everything is bench graft. My back hurt from bending ever each way. Its worse then any yoga class I ever been to. If I have a table and chair so I can sit down and do that whip and tongue, I think I can do a better job and not likely to get injure. About your super dwarf Honeycrisp, that's a reason I won't go with dwarf size trees, they are even weaker and susceptible to deceases. Honeycrisp is low yield compare to the other varieties with a dwarf size, its hard to get fruit out of it.

    1. I can imagine how sore your back was!
      You're right about the superdwarf rootstocks being too effective at dwarfing. I also had Karmijn on the same root-stock, and that was a failure due to poor growth and because all of the apples were split and deformed. I assume they were unable to get the nutrition they needed. Liberty on the same rootstock has been productive but the apples are small. I kept that one, planning to thin them better next year.

  3. Is there a certain time that is best to collect scions for grafting? I want to cut some from my fig tree to save but not sure when the best time to do it is.

    1. Dareios, it depends a little on what you are planning to do. For most grafting, I try to collect them when they are in deep dormancy, in mid winter. The scions should not be growing at all. It's OK if the rootstock is growing, and some plants actually do better if you graft a dormant scion onto a growing rootstock, because that leads to sap flow and healing the connection before there is growth. I store the dormant scion in the fridge, in a heavy gauge plastic bag, such as freezer ziploc bag.

      If you are starting new fig trees, you don't need to graft at all, starting from dormant cuttings usually works fast and easier than grafting. There are lots of websites on that. I have grafted figs - the wood is more fragile and I get less takes, than with apple or pear. But if you are changing a tree to a new variety, or making a multigraft, it can be done. I hope that info is helpful for you.