I have a grafted apple tree which could benefit from your help. A family member ordered and received a few appletrees 2 - 3 years ago as bareroots, which is fine, and he planted them, which is fine. But, now that I am looking at the trees more closely, I notice that a few of them have two trunks. I know that's no good, and that one of them is a sucker that should be pruned off. But, which is the sucker? I can't think of any reason for the nursery to have sent a fruit tree with two stems, but, my father says the trees came like that. (He did, however, buy them from the scummiest nursery I know of, so any thing is possible.)
I've looked up some photos of aged grafts, but not enough. So, with minimal knowledge about how grafts age, my guess is that the stem on the left (it's the same tree and the same orientation in all the photos) might be the scion wood, and that the other stem might be growing from the rootstock. I'm judging it based on where the scars are, and actually, it looks like a third big stem was cut off a few years ago, too. Got a hypothesis/analysis? Oh, a puzzle!
Did I mention this tree came from the scummiest of scummy nurseries? If you have anything to say about the health of the tree/graft, I'd appreciate any information you've got. Those graft scars look a little funky to me, and I'm not certain how effectively the tree will overcome its issues.
If you got the plant 3years ago. Then it should bear this year, assuming a apple/crabapple tree is nearby. Once it bears you will know which is the rootstock and then cut it back by 1/3 each year. aka it might take 3 years to hack it back down to size.
Location: Western North Carolina
posted 3 years ago
Thank S Bengi for the fast response.
I've considered leaving both and seeing which fruits with the desired apple, but we don't even know what rootstock these are grafted on to -- which means it might be a full sized apple tree, which means it might take another 4 to 7 years to bear fruit. By that time, I think damage would have been done to the keeper trunk (rubbing, moisture retention, and competition for sunlight which would cause it to grow lopsidedly).
At this point, I would keep them both and let the tree figure it out - the 2 trunks are not ideal, but not crippling either. Trees can respond from all kinds of goofy starting conditions and work themselves into manageable growing shapes -- hacking off large chunks of them will normally do more harm.
If one side needs to go later, it can be topwork grafted into a different variety.