I have set aside a sunny part of my yard for a stone fruit tree of some sort and had initially set my sights on a Reliance Peach but the multi-variety "fruit salad" trees caught my eye at the local nursery last week and since I only have space for one tree I'd like to hear what everyone's opinion on them is? The nursery worked couldn't comment on the survivability of the grafts beyond the one season that they keep them there and I've read some accounts of more vigourous varieties stealing the bulk of the nutrients from the root stock, thus killing the other grafts and I don't want to end up with a malformed single-variety tree. Can proper selection of grafted varieties and careful pruning make these a success? Is there an online resource that ranks stone fruit variety vigour? Thanks for any input!
PS. the image below is just for fun, those are not the specific varieties available to me locally.
Pruning the more vigourous varieties to even out the canopy is definitely a necessity from what I've read but there are a few accounts of established grafts dying-out despite this. It's possible that it may just have been a weaker graft or bad positioning that left that variety at a distinct advantage or a slight and undetectable injury may have set it down a bad path - who knows.
I'll definitely be looking for a tree that has equally-sized grafts for each variety but I wonder if the position of the graft has much to do with their long-term success? I noticed that some grafts are made directly onto the trunk of the rootstock while others are made onto branches. I suspect that the ideal tree would have all of the grafts made one way or the other.
I think it's a bit too late in the year to be moving grafts around but if I find one with good structure I'll probably try to move the trunk grafts out onto rootstock branches so they all get an equal flow of nutrients.
Phil, the tree of 40 fruits is really spectacular! I've been looking for technical articles on the varieties and the grafting rationales but I think the grafter/artist just keeps sticking them on where ever they seem to make sense. It could be that a graft on a graft on a graft is just as viable as a graft on a rootstock. A 4-in-1 with two additional grafts on each plus two more on each of those grafts would yield 28 varieties on a single tree!