I live in a subtropical dry region . My soil drains well, and I get about 13 inches of rainfall a year. I'm totally new to grafting, but I wanted to try with heat tolerant varieties of stone fruit. I've had trouble finding information on what rootstocks would be best for these conditions. Does anyone have any ideas for the rootstock? If you think it's not likely to work at all, do you have any suggestions for a fruit combination I should try instead? Thanks!
chelsea, I guess you know that most roostocks dwarf the tree? Semi-dwarf and dwarfing roostocks don't live as long as the original tree's own roots. The majority of the rest of the rootstocks are for doing well in clay that doesn't dry out or extreme conditions. or very small back yards. Some rootstocks are shallowly rooted and don't do well in drought conditions. Almost all rootstocks need water twice a week until the tree matures. Some rootstocks force fruiting a couple years earlier, but that doesn't mean you aren't stressing the tree before it has enough of a root system to sustain both fruit and growth as a young tree.
Appletrees can live to be 100 years old on their own roots, and actually have fewer problems. It's better to keep a large tree on it's own roots, pruning the branches to the size you want, for the sake of fruit production, than to limit it with rootstock, unless you've got extreme conditions.
In dry climates well-draining soil is easy to keep irrigation water from evaporating with thick mulch of mowed weeds, grass, straw, alfalfa, whatever you've got in a large circle around the tree, being careful not to put it within 3 inches of the trunk so rodents can't hide under it and chew the trunk. Plus you get all the advantages of soil improvement and weed suppression.
You'll get the best results with irrigation rather than drippers. Irrigate, which sends the water lower than drippers, but let the soil dry out for a few days between waterings so the roots are forced to go deep looking for water. If you give them easy water, they will stay shallow and require it from you, not find ground water or damp soil down below.
It's really sad to see a fruit tree start to fruit less and less at just 15 years, and then die.
But that said, if you want to experiment, here's a list with good descriptions:
If you are going to setup drip irrigation on all the grafted plans. Then you can pretty much plant "everything". If you would rather to conserve the water. I would plant 3 seed per hole and let them grow with only natural rainfall. After 2 years I would graft the " sweeter" named cultivar on the wild seedling that grew. Some earthworks will help a lot. Also with only 13inches of rain. You are going to need 3x the recommended spacing for east coast irritated orchards. You can plant some alot of other plants underneath the fruit trees