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Help save my old apple tree-grafting

Posted by eclecticcottage 6b wny (My Page) on
Sat, Feb 16, 13 at 10:22

On our property, we have an old apple tree. We have no indication of when it was planted, but the trunk is big enough I can't reach my arms around it, and it is at least as tall as my neighbor's house. We have no idea of what kind of apples it produces, but they are pretty good. The tree has become kind of a symbol of the property for us, it's a lovely old tree.

Now, the problem. We live in an old cottage on Lake Ontario, and the tree is by the cliff. Within 5-10 years depending on the weather, there's a good chance erosion will claim the tree. No matter how long it takes, it WILL happen, there's no way to stop it.

I know if I plant the seeds, there's no way to know what kind of apples we will get. I know pretty much nothing about grafting, but I am thinking this is the only way to go.

So...where do I start? How do I pick a root stock, and where do I find them? Is there a good step by step on how to graft? I don't know how many shots I'll have at this if it's a seasonal thing. We lost a good 2-3' this winter and the tree is only maybe 10-15' from the cliff. Even before the erosion makes it back to the trunk, it's going to start to effect the root system.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Help save my old apple tree-grafting

Not long ago there was a thread..

Here is a link that might be useful: Saving an Old Apple Tree

RE: Help save my old apple tree-grafting

Here are some of the links I've saved that I found very helpful.

Konrad also has a beautiful set of photos of his very refined bark grafting. I hope he re-posts them.

If your old tree has watersprouts that grew last year go out and cut a couple off. Cut them into sections about a foot long, wrap in a damp, not soggy, paper towel, and place them in a sealed ziplock bag in the refrigerator. They should make excellent scion material. If you don't have watersprouts (which are new growth shooting right up from the middle of older, established branches) look for the longest pieces of new growth -last year's growth- that you can find. If there's been any pruning on the tree there should be some, but on old and neglected trees they can be very hard to come by. If so, prune a few branches back into established wood to encourage some new growth. Prune back to a bud or a young fork -and nip the young fork too, again back to a bud.

You'll need a place to graft the scions to, but first concern yourself with gathering and storing the scions. Once you have some scions to work with people here will be glad to speak to the questions of rootstock.

This is a very doable, fun project that needn't cost you a lot of money and will put you in the company of some very interesting people, and may well become a lifelong interest. Good luck.


RE: Help save my old apple tree-grafting

Assuming you have scion to spare, you might pass some along to other GW members who might babysit your genetics (on their trees) until you can get rootstock established.

I make a habit of sharing seeds & plants as widely as I can, out of generosity, but also knowing that if tragedy strikes and I loose a variety, I know where I can replace it.

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