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Air layering / apple tree propogation questions

 
Jeremy Hutchins
Posts: 27
Location: Northern Virginia (zone 6b/7a)
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Learned about Air Layering from the Val and Eli's permaculture property (courtesy of Johnny Mars)
at about 14:20. I'm totally amazed at how simple it seems to propagate existing trees. My father has several well-established apple trees (macintosh) and wants to reestablish a few trees when he moves properties. My understanding is that the *best* way to perform that would be to plant apple trees from seed in his new property and then graft the original trees onto the planted rootstock (to preserve the taproot). However, growing rootstock from seed in place at the new property will take some time. I'm thinking that the best way to do it might be to air layer a few trees for the short term and simultaneously plant rootstock to graft to for the long term (hopefully from the air layered trees when the rootstock is big enough). But I had a few questions.

Does the above sound like a reasonable plan?
Has anyone used air layering with fruiting trees and what was your experience (especially in regards to general health of the tree)?
Is air layering a better, worse or just different solution than grafting to potted root stock (which would probably have a taproot, but likely be stunted) or simply buying a potted tree from the local nursery?
If what I understand is correct, will the lack of a taproot on the air layered trees cause (tree) health problems down the line?
Should I plant the rootstock expecting to sacrifice the air layered trees down the line when the rootstock is mature or are the air layered trees worth keeping?
Any other ideas or things I should consider?

Thanks!
 
Ann Torrence
steward
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Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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How old is dad, and are these beloved heirlooms? Might want do both the air layering experiment, which will generate a tree to last well past his great-grandchildren's lifetimes if it works, but also some grafting onto a dwarfing rootstock just to keep the varieties available while you wait for the seedling rootstock (or air-grafted version) to come into production. That way you can collect scionwood off the dwarf version after you leave the property, kind of like making a back-up hard drive if the upgrade goes badly. And dad doesn't have to wait a decade for his favorite fruit.
 
Jordan Lowery
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Location: zone 7
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just buy some rootstock and graft onto that, it will be fast and cheap, you can have a fully producing tree in 3-5 years depending on type and location. rootstock is 2$ each and grafting is a great skill to have.

air layering on an apple tree would work but too much effort because there are easier ways, you can just root sticks if you really wanted to. when doing that you wont get great rootstock. and rootstocks are selected for pest and disease resistant, scion wood (fruiting) trees are not.

i would buy some apple rootstock of your choice in size, take scion wood and graft that onto the rootstock planted in the ground( or in a pot )
 
Jeremy Hutchins
Posts: 27
Location: Northern Virginia (zone 6b/7a)
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Thanks for your responses, Ann and Jordan. Dad is going on 70 now. He *loves* the particular variety that he's growing (Macintosh), but growing up, the trees were never a big priority for the family. Funny now that when the prospect of leaving comes up, one of the first things that came up was that he wanted to have some Macintosh trees where he moves to. And even though he's never really had a garden, he wanted to take seeds from his apples and grow new trees from them. I think I agree with you, Ann - I might be tempted to do a little bit of everything, if even just to see what works out best. Jordan - thanks for the information about the rootstock - I hadn't even considered that you could pick out some that is disease resistant.
 
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