I came across some appletrees at Canadian Tire that have 4 different kinds of apples grafted together. I was wondering if anyone has seen or has experience with these. I want to dedicate about 1/2 acre to fruit production and think these would really give me more diversity if they actually produce. Ideas?
IMHO, you get better production from single-variety trees - and often get a single variety tree after a few years of having bought a multi-variety tree. One top is happier, and it "wins."
If space is tight, you could look at erecting some support wires and using 4 full-dwarf trees - not very "capital P Permie", I suppose, but probably not less so than a 4-way graft. I guess espaliering might be OK in "zone 1" (or it's automatic "capital P Permie" pitchfork attack for even mentioning the e-word - I don't know...I'm more of a "small-p permanent agriculture" mindset.) I figure if the dwarf trees need support wires, might as well play with making espalier trees. Or you can go for the basic cordon.
Muddling towards a more permanent agriculture. Not after a guru or a religion, just a functional garden.
I think the main concern is balance in the tree -- you will definitely get unbalanced growth rate and size, which means you need to prune just to get back to what the tree is supposed to do naturally...
On the pro side, you get some better pollination, especially for small spaces or near pollen sterile apple varieties. If you want that pro, I would say plant a little crabapple, or graft a crabapple branch in the middle and keep it pruned small..
I would say yes, do it. There are too many interesting and exciting varieties of apples and pears to limit yourself. You might want to do some research on vigor. For example, an eBook at the Home Orchard Society website lists the vigor of many varieties of apples. Maybe if you keep trees with similar vigor together, you'll have better balance among the different varieties.
There was an apple breeder named Albert Etter who was a kind of pioneer in apple breeding and used lots of multiple grafted trees. He homesteaded land in Northern California and planted out tons of apples and used multiple-grafted trees to pack in as much genetic diversity as he could in order to produce unusual new apple varieties.
I've got multi-grafted espaliered and multi-grafted fan-trained trees to get as much seasonal variety and pollination as I can get in my very small suburban property (about 3800 square foot).
I've got four plum varieties on a multigraft fan, a dual espaliered pear, two espaliered single-variety apples and a seedling peach I'll have to prune brutally.
When I first looked into it, I was a bit freaked out at the 'unnaturalness' of it all, but I'm comfortable with it now: if I got all extreme about it, basically everything in my garden is 'unnatural': cultivars selectively bred for centuries, plants cloned through grafting, etc, etc. I like broccoli and Cox's orange applesO0
I have several multigrafted fruit trees (fruit cocktail, pear, apple growing well)..in my experience there is usually a dominate graft that will take over and grow larger, and then the other ones stay smaller or die..so generally it doesn't work out as it is supposed to. On my fruit cocktail I have one very large dominate graft (blossoms froze so not sure what IT produces)..and then the other grafts are either very small near the ground, or dying. On the pear one is dominate but others are growing well, and on the apple they seem to be well balanced.
I bought them for pollination reasons..
Bloom where you are planted.
mulit grafted trees are best kept for scion woodimo. so now you can have all 10 varieties of scion wood on one tree, that said if things get overgrown and left alone for some time. multi grafted trees end up in a huge mess.
The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka
Jordan Lowery wrote:mulit grafted trees are best kept for scion wood imo. so now you can have all 10 varieties of scion wood on one tree, that said if things get overgrown and left alone for some time. multi grafted trees end up in a huge mess.
That's a great point Jordan. That is an area where I have seen this successful: relatively small graft areas on a mature tree that can already support different growth. I don't see a problem with maintaing a mature tree with 10 variety sections on the established branches - that's lovely! Well, I would lose the labels for sure though!
My parents have several multi graft trees. Only two are old enough to produce, though a third looks promising this year. The fruit cocktail died except for peach, which did so poorly my parents yanked it out on my advice. The 4 pear is doing amazing, more pears than we can use, although we did lose one variety early on. The 3 cherry seems to be doing good, and the apple is too young to comment on as yet.
That said my opinion is, if you plan on pruning and don't mind losing 1 of the grafts, it's worth it for the added variety.
I would agree with what most people have already said. One variety tends to dominate. I think these fruit salad trees are more of a marketing novelty than anything. An alternative option is to plant multiple trees in the same hole angling each tree slight outward - \ / . While I have never done this, I have seen established plantings and they looked pretty good. They key is to select trees of similar growth rate and size and to prune all of the trees as though they were all one tree.