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How to prune a multi-varitiey grafted pear tree?  RSS feed

 
master steward
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Sometimes I make impulse purchases...like this 5-way multi-grafted pear tree. I finally found a place to plant it, but I have no idea how to go about maintaining it. Up until now, I've pruned all my fruit trees with the Central Leader shape. But, I read that with mutli-grafted trees, you want each variety to take up relatively the same amount of space on the tree. Can that be done with a central leader shape, or should I train it some other way?

Here's some pictures of the tree. It's four Asian pear varieties, and one European Anjou, but I can't remember all the names of the Asian varieties. I'll try to find where I wrote down all the varieties, and list them, too
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Pear tree, facing to the East
106_8012.JPG
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Pear tree, facing to the West
 
Nicole Alderman
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  • Shinko
  • Nijisseiki (20th Centrury)
  • mystery pear
  • Shinseiki
  • Anjou
  • Kosui



  • On Provence Quince rootstock. And, yes, there's 6 branches on that tree. One of them (the one with the white label), has no variety name on it (it just says "4-way pear") so I have NO IDEA what's going to grow off of that branch. All the branches look grafted on, including that one. So, it'll be a mystery pear/quince/who-knows-what!
     
    Posts: 299
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    Your tree is known as a frankentree.

    I have no expertise on advising you on trimming. Seems like what you might need is a big limb, in the future, for each of the varieties. Which in my mind looks ugly. I'm thinking of making a frankentree as a backup for each of my apple varieties. Good luck with the tree.
     
    pollinator
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    Interesting my suggestion would be to try to equalize the growth of each branch otherwise the plant will be at war with it's self :-)
    I am trying to develop such trees my self maybe you could use it as a reservoir of grafting stock to graft onto other trees . Quince is very easy to take hard wood cuttings you could end up with five or more trees :-)
     
    Nicole Alderman
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    John Duda wrote: Your tree is known as a frankentree.



    Yeah, grafted/franken trees really aren't my favorite. I personally prefer natural-looking trees, and don't even like espalier trees. But, we bought my daughter a pear tree for her first birthday, and it needed a pollinator. And, then we were at a local nursery, and they had this tree for $32. My husband loves Asian pears, so I made an impulse buy. I'll probably regret it, but at least I know I have a pollinator for her tree....

    I went out and took some pictures of the mystery limb. Can anyone tell if this limb is grafted or not?
    106_8017.JPG
    [Thumbnail for 106_8017.JPG]
    Is this branch grafted?
     
    Nicole Alderman
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    David Livingston wrote:Interesting my suggestion would be to try to equalize the growth of each branch otherwise the plant will be at war with it's self :-)



    How do I equalize the growth of each branch, when the top branch is a grafted variety? Do I pull that one down, too, and train it as an open-center/vase shape?
     
    Posts: 29
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    Most of my soft fruit trees are these multi grafted type due to limited space - they are cool! I have two with apples, 1 plum, asian pear, cherry, and euro pear.

    However, after a few years of having my own planted and observing my friend's with hundreds in a nursery for sale, I've noticed a few things about the ones I've been around:

    1. Unless you prune them back HARD each year or two, They usually end up with only two or three of the cultivars dominating, with the others either dying off or persisting as small, insignificant branches. Seems to be random which do well, not necessarily a specific cultivar being more or less vigorous than another. Perhaps it has to do with the quality of the graft or it's location along the stem - more auxin going into one branch than the others focusing the growth there.

    2. The interstem (the piece grafted to the rootstock that the scions are then grafted to, if there is one) and/ or the root stock - OFTEN sprouts - I'd be about 90% sure that unlabeled branch is one. If I were you I would either remove it or ASAP graft the least healthy looking cultivar (or your favorite, or another cultivar) if you let it grow and it turns out to be the interstem or root stock, most of the growth will occur in it (perhaps due to it not being inhibited by a poor graft). This ended, for my friend with one planted in the ground for a few years at his nursery, in us having to remove a 4 inch diameter stem (which was roughly half the tree) while the actual grafted cultivars were maybe an inch in diameter. Now it is a huge gaping wound and may be the eventual cause of death of the tree.

    3. They are less vigorous and generally a pain. I have mine as a temporary way to "store" the genetic info of those cultivars in order to later graft individual trees on a larger plot of land. In retrospect, for sake of ease of pruning (I must often break almost every pruning rule I know with these trees) and general lack of headache, I would get individual trees on dwarf or super dwarf root stock if space is an issue. Or typical root stock and just prune hard, it's good biomass generation but more cutting. However it's simpler pruning since you're not trying to figure out how to give each cultivar what it needs - it's like trying to prune 5 trees that are all in each other's way all the time.

    They are still cool though! A much easier edition of this concept, in my opinion, is espalier combo trees with at least a vertical foot between each graft , since each branch/cultivar gets their own space no matter what.

    Good luck!
     
    David Livingston
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    As Robert suggested above are you sure you want this fifth one that could end up taking all the growth and since it's of unknow heritage .... You could end up with ?
    Or you could let it flower first, quince flowers are much later than pear plus pear are white and small ,quince are a delicate rose and spiral like Californian poppys shape at first not sure about Asian pear flowers

    David
     
    Nicole Alderman
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    Considering how rainy and damp it's been here, I'll probably have to wait until it blooms to prune anyway, since I don't want to invite disease/fungus into the tree...and it doesn't look like we'll have any dry weather for the forseeable future. If it doesn't bloom this year, I'll prune the mystery branch way back, along with the other three thick branches. I did place the mystery branch to the north-east, so it'll get the least amount of light. I placed the the two smallest branches to the west and south, so they'll get the most light.

    So the mystery branch isn't grafted--good to know! I don't know if it'll be quince though, or if they grafted another tree onto the quince rootstock and then the multiple varieties on to that tree. It looks like there's a graft at the bottom of the tree. I took some pictures last night, so I'll add them up. One's a bit blurry, so I can go take a better picture if need be.
    106_8020.JPG
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    106_8022.JPG
    [Thumbnail for 106_8022.JPG]
     
    John Duda
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    If you go to Cummins Nursery they have a rootstock called "OHxF 97" they sell that pear rootstock for $3.75 each. So if you buy 4 and graft a stem from each of the 4 varieties it wouldn't cost a fortune. I think the shipping there is about $22 for me at least.

    If you plant the rootstocks and in August or so do a "T bud" you'll wind up with 4 seperate trees, one for each variety. You could buy 5 and do the one you question or just leave it where it is and find out what it is on that tree. But if later you decide to do a fifth rootstock it'd cost you another $22 for shipping. google T bud, you need the tape, about $3 on eBay and a sharp knife.

    You need the space for the trees (?) and the confidence to try the grafting. But then maybe you'd decide that you'd like 4 more of this tree and 2 more of that one and before you know you could have a pear orchard on the cheap. By the way that rootstock gives you a pear tree about 90% of full size, which on a pear is never that big.
     
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    Thanks for asking this question!  I just literally walked inside to this thread after staring at my 4-way grafted asain pear and thinking "how the hell do i prune this thing?"
     
    Nicole Alderman
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    Posts: 310
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    That's definitely a graft at the bottom.
    Since you are already bending branches, I would use that to manage different vigor of varieties. Bend to a lower angle to retard, less to encourage growth.
    That said, you might want to avoid going below horizontal. You are likely to get strong watersprout response close to the trunk otherwise.
     
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