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Planting grafted apple trees at 2 sites + crab apple grafting

 
Bob Steve
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This will be my first year grafting... Is it possible to plant my rootstocks in buckets, do the graft and then plant them in the woods? Or is it best to plant the rootstocks in the ground and do the grafts right then? I have to drive 2 hours to one site and it may take a bit longer for the ground to finish thawing there. At home I need to plant trees in prepared mounds because of excess water in spring so it'll take a while to prepare each area. Either way, getting them in buckets will give me some extra time but if it's not recommended I won't do it... I need to do about 20 grafts.

Another question I have is about topworking a hardy crab apple tree I found growing in the brush. The problem is that I need to dig it out and replant it first... Is it best to wait until it re-establishes itself after replanting (say for a year) or can I do this type of graft right after replanting?

Final question is about topworking another crab apple tree. This tree doesn't get much sun but it is 20 feet tall and over 30 years old. I think it gets most of it's spring/summer sun at sunrise and then towards sunset. Is there a specific kind or kinds of apple that I could graft to this? One that enjoys shade? It might need to be bark grafted... I'll take a picture of that one.

Thanks.
 
John Wolfram
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I would suggest planting the trees in the woods, waiting a while, and then doing the grafting. Transplanting of trees is best done while the trees are fully dormant, and you want to graft when the trees have woken up and are starting to push out leaves. Also, if you plant the tree before it has been grafted you don't have to worry about hitting and disrupting the weak union between rootstock and scion.
 
Bob Steve
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John Wolfram wrote:waiting a while


A week? Or longer?

 
John Wolfram
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Bob Steve wrote:A week? Or longer?

You don't get to control the amount of time you wait, nature does. Sometimes the weather stays cold and the trees are delayed in pushing out new growth. Some times warm weather comes early and the trees respond.
 
Ann Torrence
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Bob Steve wrote:This will be my first year grafting... Is it possible to plant my rootstocks in buckets, do the graft and then plant them in the woods?

Yes, but if it's your first time and you are using dormant scions that you bought/traded and dormant rootstocks, why not do the graft first, indoors where there's good light and reasonable comfort to see what you are doing? Many grafters will make the bench graft on dormant rootstock, then let the union "heal" in a dark, moist, protected environment for a week or so before planting out. Like wrapping the trees back up in the plastic bag it was shipped in with some wetted down packing material. If you aren't going to be there to monitor the trees where they are going, you could 1) plant in buckets until the graft heals well (several weeks), 2) use really short pieces of scion - I heard one of Jack Spirko's podcasts with the owner of Kuffel Creek in California who uses scions only one bud in length so that there is less chance of mechanical or wind breakage and/or 3) make the grafts at your kitchen table a week before you head off to the property to plant them. Maybe provide the joint with some extra support, wind protection.

There are a lot of ways to skin this cat, all will work. You can optimize your process later once you have some successes.
 
Ann Torrence
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Bob Steve wrote:
Another question I have is about topworking a hardy crab apple tree I found growing in the brush. The problem is that I need to dig it out and replant it first... Is it best to wait until it re-establishes itself after replanting (say for a year) or can I do this type of graft right after replanting?

Either should work. It might be worth moving it but leaving it as a pollinator for your other apples. Crabs tend to bloom longer and overlap the short bloom windows of more demanding varieties. A little extra insurance until you know your chosen 20 have taken and fill each others' pollen needs.
Bob Steve wrote:
Final question is about topworking another crab apple tree. This tree doesn't get much sun but it is 20 feet tall and over 30 years old. I think it gets most of it's spring/summer sun at sunrise and then towards sunset. Is there a specific kind or kinds of apple that I could graft to this? One that enjoys shade? It might need to be bark grafted... I'll take a picture of that one.

I can't think of an apple that "enjoys" shade. But if it produces crabs, it would likely produce more desirable apples. If the tree isn't useful to you now, what's the harm in experimenting with some chip grafting this summer? That doesn't require a drastic revision of the existing tree to try out. Or if you have the space, leave this one for the birds?
 
Bob Steve
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Ann Torrence wrote:
Yes, but if it's your first time and you are using dormant scions that you bought/traded and dormant rootstocks, why not do the graft first, indoors where there's good light and reasonable comfort to see what you are doing?


I don't know... I have two different answers now. I'm looking for the best method aka the one where I'm least likely to lose my trees and waste scion wood because of improper planting etc.

Ann Torrence wrote:
Many grafters will make the bench graft on dormant rootstock, then let the union "heal" in a dark, moist, protected environment for a week or so before planting out. Like wrapping the trees back up in the plastic bag it was shipped in with some wetted down packing material. If you aren't going to be there to monitor the trees where they are going, you could 1) plant in buckets until the graft heals well (several weeks), 2) use really short pieces of scion - I heard one of Jack Spirko's podcasts with the owner of Kuffel Creek in California who uses scions only one bud in length so that there is less chance of mechanical or wind breakage and/or 3) make the grafts at your kitchen table a week before you head off to the property to plant them. Maybe provide the joint with some extra support, wind protection.

There are a lot of ways to skin this cat, all will work. You can optimize your process later once you have some successes.


I'll add these suggestions to the list but I'm hoping more people reply. I didn't know I could graft to dormant rootstock and leave it sit. I saw someone do this on YouTube and many of the commenters laughed him out of town.

Ann Torrence wrote:
Either should work. It might be worth moving it but leaving it as a pollinator for your other apples. Crabs tend to bloom longer and overlap the short bloom windows of more demanding varieties. A little extra insurance until you know your chosen 20 have taken and fill each others' pollen needs.


There are a number of crap apples along the fence on the property line so I'm not worried about the pollinator issue. These trees have probably been growing in the area for hundreds of years. There used to be edible crab apple and a few other crab varieties on this land but they were all cut down. All that remains are these tuff thorny trees which produce marble sized red fruit. I've saved some seed and hope to get some sprouted soon also. This particular tree I'm talking about sits in water in fall, the water freezes until spring and then it sits in water again until summer heat dries out the ground more. But it is always in water or wet soil. It's also growing in heavy clay and shade... So that probably means this is a special tree. I've seen a few methods for cloning crab apple from cuttings so I may try that instead of grafting. Do you think it's best to do clones from where the tree is or will the tree lose it's tuffness if I move it and attempt to clone it from the new location?

Ann Torrence wrote:
I can't think of an apple that "enjoys" shade. But if it produces crabs, it would likely produce more desirable apples. If the tree isn't useful to you now, what's the harm in experimenting with some chip grafting this summer? That doesn't require a drastic revision of the existing tree to try out. Or if you have the space, leave this one for the birds?


Yeah I forgot the quotation marks. I'm not sure if this one produced fruit last year, it seems like they're all on their own time table. I know 2 trees dropped apples but I don't think they all do every year. This is probably because of shade issues (and other issues...) so that's why I'm wondering if there are types of apples which don't need as much sun as others.

 
Ann Torrence
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Bob Steve wrote:I'm looking for the best method aka the one where I'm least likely to lose my trees and waste scion wood because of improper planting etc.

My philosophy is that perfect is the enemy of good. Why not do half and half and see which works better? The absolute worst thing that will happen is the graft will fail and the rootstock will grow up from a bud below and you can try again next year in place on a well-established rootstock.

If you are buying scions right now, they are dormant, cut during winter pruning. I have a whole frig full from our pruning last weekend on hold for a homesteaders meet-up next month. One useful tipis to get your apples out of the frig while storing scions. They emit a gas that can trigger bud break and you do not want that until your grafts are done.
 
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