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Air Layering_Too late?

 
Jason Vath
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Location: Hardiness Zone 6
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Hello all,

I wanted to air layer some apple & pear trees. I was originally under the impression to start this in the summer while the tree is in growth but, have read recently that Spring is the time to start.
I'm in Northwestern PA, ~hardiness zone 5.

Is it ok to start air layering right now ?

Thanks
 
S Usvy
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Location: South NB
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Anyone? I'm replying because I want to know the answer too
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Yes you can air layer now and all the way to the beginning of August.

you will need either willow water or rooting hormone, sphagnum moss and a water proof wrapping material.
(I use Visqueen pieces cut to wrap around the branch and moss twice and long enough to be tied to the branch above and below where I want the roots growing).

For layering this time of year pick a branch that is at least as large in diameter as your thumb, make 4 narrow V slits 3" long in the bark, these need to be deep enough that you almost get to the solid wood but not through it.
Next put rooting hormone into the slits then moisten the sphagnum moss with willow water or room temp non chlorinated water.
Wrap this around the rooting area so it is two to three inches thick (5 to 8 cm) next put on the wrap and tie off with butcher twine (cotton twine) just tight enough to keep water from leaking out.
You will need to check for drying out of the moss, you want it damp all the time. Once you can see roots poking through the moss you are ready to cut the branch free and plant in a 5 gal nursery container or a pail with drain holes or directly in ground.

If all you have is treated, city water, no problem just heat the water and pour into a container that is large enough that you can stir easily so the chlorine will gas off.
You need to prep your water at least two days before you will use it so you can be sure to have all chlorine removed from the water.

Notes:
Willow water can be used in place of rooting hormone if it is fresh.
In this case, soak the moss then lightly mist the cuts with the willow water before you continue as above.
If you have any questions or problems let me know so I can help you.

Spring time layering is usually recommended because roots will form a tad faster.
The only time of year you can't air layer is winter dormancy, this starts 8 weeks before leaf fall.

Air Layer early enough that your new rooting will have time to really establish after being removed from the mother tree and planted.
I have some pear, mulberry and fig trees that I will be layering a few branches on next month (near our peak heat).
Just so you know it is viable to layer in the summer; I've done layering on Fig, Peach, Pear, Apple, Plum and grapes in August and rarely loose a start.

Redhawk
 
Jason Vath
Posts: 146
Location: Hardiness Zone 6
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Ah, glad to hear it's not too late!

I actually went a head and did some trees this morning - before I saw your response. I went off of information I gathered from y0utube videos.
Some of the branches I did were thumb size in diameter, others were about the size of pencils in diameter. From what I heard, pencil size is an acceptable minimum diameter.
I also heard that rooting hormone is not necessary so, I didn't use any.

The method I used was as follows:
made a girdling cut all the way around a new growth branch ~1-2 inches tall. Took a knife and completely scraped off all the cambium as well (Perhaps removing ALL the cambium was a mistake?).
took a potting mix made for seedlings & cuttings - ingredients from memory: (Sphagnum peat moss, dolomite lime, wetting agent, maybe some growth hormone?) placed around cut as you mentioned.
wrapped that w/ plastic wrap secured with duct-tape, then covered with aluminum foil to prevent sunlight penetration.

This is different than what you suggested, do you think what I did will have a chance?
Propagation-Air Layer_Pear-Seckel_2016-06-23.JPG
[Thumbnail for Propagation-Air Layer_Pear-Seckel_2016-06-23.JPG]
 
Bryant RedHawk
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In 43 years of grafting and air layering I have never had success with the girdling technique, that doesn't mean it won't work, just that it doesn't work for me.

Rooting hormone is insurance, I did this professionally so I didn't want nor could I afford to not have success all the time.

Yes you can use small branch diameters, but think of it this way, the larger the branch, the better root system you can develop, the better the root system the better chance of survival the new tree has.
Then you have growth time, the smaller diameters take longer to get big enough to start fruiting.

The Cambium layer is where all growth originates, if you remove that, new roots have to grow so the new tree will live, if the leaves wilt you have a failure.
The slit method keeps the branch's ability to get nutrients from the mother tree while it grows the new roots.
The slit method also allows you to dictate where roots are going to originate and how many main roots you will end up with.
Girdling allows the branch to make those decisions instead of the propagator.

What you did will work, but it is more dependent upon exterior conditions (heat, humidity) the aluminum foil keeps out light, it actually isn't a necessary step.

check your work weekly so the moss doesn't dry out ever, if it does you lost that game most likely since those roots need to stay moist to stay alive.

If you decide to try my method you will have all successes, I spent several years perfecting a method that doesn't fail very often, in fact I have never had a failure with it.
I recommend you check one or two after a couple of weeks, if you don't see little white bumps formed or forming (the start of new roots) then strip it down and use some root hormone and re-wrap with fresh moss that is moist.

If you don't have, don't want to buy rooting hormone and don't have willow trees to make willow water with, Vitamin B-12 will induce root formation, we use V B-12 to water in newly transplanted trees, it stimulates roots to grow thus preventing shock.

Redhawk
 
Jason Vath
Posts: 146
Location: Hardiness Zone 6
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What you're saying makes logical sense to me. I thought about how leaving some/most cambium intact would be a good thing.
Thanks for replying back again, it's great to hear tips from one who really knows what they're doing.

Just to make sure I understand you, I made a drawing of what I think you mean concerning the cut's. Please critique.

Thanks.
Air Layer_V-cuts.gif
[Thumbnail for Air Layer_V-cuts.gif]
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Yes, that drawing shows one of the best methods, you can also make simple straight lines with your cuts, both work great.

I usually make my cuts with two strokes, both at about 30 degrees so the cut makes a V, this gives the root hormone more space to cling or if your hormone is coming from willow water, it give it more area to penetrate and start the root formation process.
 
Jason Vath
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Ok thanks! Seems way simpler(hopefully better) than the girdling method - wonder why the girdling methods shows up all the time when researching?

I'm going to try your method on a pear tree next, will keep you posted on the results.

Thanks again.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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The girdling method is most often used (by me) for changing the root pattern of Bonsai Trees, where you really want even spacing all around the trunk of the tree.
Even when doing this I do not completely girdle the tree since that makes it a live or die situation and with my Bonsai trees selling for 50 to 500 dollars, I really don't want to loose a few years work.

I have no idea why so many people seem to think this is good method, perhaps they think it will make better roots?

I always put it forth like this: If you want to kill a tree, you girdle it, this stops all nutrient flow in the tree and it will most assuredly die.

What I have always wondered is how many of the people recommending this method actually do air layering or grafting on a regular basis and if they do, what is their success rate?
I've never seen anyone touting girdling for layering mention their own success rate or how many they do in a year. 
I think it is one of those urban legends that people read and say "well, of course" and then they spread it around like they know what they are talking about, but they are actually clueless.
 
Ken W Wilson
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Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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Would this work on an English Walnut?  I lost one I planted this spring. I'd rather have it on it's own roots than buy one on black walnut.

Do you use last year's wood or is it just the diameter that is an issue?

Do you cut them off and plant in the fall or wait until spring?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Ken,

Yes this will work on English Walnut, Try to use one year old growth (it does better than new growth since it already has stronger internal structure).
For all deciduous trees it is best to plant out about 2-3 weeks before spring, this way the new tree wakes up in its forever home soil. At the first sign of leaf out water the tree deeply with a B-12 solution, this will stimulate new root growth.
In the USA they use black walnut for root stock for two reasons, it is easy to get here and it is a tad more resistant to some diseases, I used to have three English walnut trees that were on their own roots because I layered them from a friends walnut grove.
This was in California but I don't see any problems with doing the same anywhere else (I had 6 English walnut trees in New York, they were all non-graft trees and they did great for me.

For English walnut I would try to give the new trunk a full growing season to form the new root ball.
When the roots start to show through the moss ball I would open it and add a layer of new moss so it can get some really good roots growing.
I would then, about the end of the growing season, cut and pot the new tree so I could overwinter it with root protection from freezing.
Then just before spring I would do my final planting, that way you won't loose your new tree because the tender roots froze in the sphagnum moss ball on the parent tree.
 
Ken W Wilson
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Thanks! I'll try some this week. On their own roots the juglone doesn't seem to be a problem.
 
Ken W Wilson
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I guess you meant early in the spring is best. Still not much to lose by trying a couple now, and I might even learn something.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Ken,  yes you can do some now and they will work just fine.
Starting in the spring just gives you more time to let roots form and grow before you have to cut and plant.
Starting now means you have two options for when you release the new tree from the parent:
A). Potting up; The starts you make now will fare best if you can pot them in 5 gal. containers for over wintering (in a place where the soil won't freeze while they are dormant).
B). Direct in ground planting; To plant them in ground this fall, just monitor the root growth, when the leaves are turning it is time to cut and plant the new trees.
Water them in well when planting and then give them a thick mulch layer (don't forget to leave an air space around the new tree trunk, when mulching, so it can breathe over the winter (for a newly developed layer cutting 3-5 inches is good).

Once you have the babies all snuggled in for winter all you need to do is water if the ground dries out enough that the roots could freeze.

Good luck, if you have any questions let me know and I will give you all the help I can.
 
Ken W Wilson
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I checked of my my walnut yesterday. It had what I'm calling root buds, good-sized white bumps. I guess it's working. It's a neat process. I'm not going to have much roots by fall though. I guess when I pot or plant it this fall it will continue to grow roots? Kind of cuttings with a head start.

 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Ken, Yes those are root buds forming, yes they will continue to grow once potted.  To make sure you give them encouragement, use a dilution of Vitamin B-12 or a B-complex tab dissolved in water, that will stimulate the root growth and help with transplant shock.

Redhawk
 
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