Why can’t I plant seeds from my apple?

You can plant seeds from your apple, but the resulting fruit from that seedling will not be exactly like the apple parent. Most apple seeds are formed when pollen from one apple cultivar pollinates the flower of another cultivar. This results in the combination of two different genetic parents and results in an offspring (seed) that has a different genetic code. The resulting seed and potential tree will have characteristics of both the pollen parent and the flowering parent. Therefore, …

Why are rootstocks used for apple trees?

Apples do not come true from seed, so when we plant apple seeds, the plants that result are not the cultivar that we obtained the seeds from. If we take six seeds from an apple and plant them, the resulting trees will produce fruit that is different from fruit on the parent tree, and the seedlings will be different from each other. To maintain a cultivar, we have to propagate the tree vegetatively. Since apple cuttings are difficult to root, …

Why do nurseries use budding versus grafting?

Budding is often used because a single scion bud is inserted into the rootstock to produce a new tree. Also, with budding, many trees can be produced from a stick of bud wood that has different sized buds.

In contrast, a piece of scion wood with two buds is used in grafting, and the diameter of the rootstock and the scion piece must match precisely to form a union. Thus, fewer trees can be propagated by grafting as compared to …

What is a dwarfing rootstock?

Apple seeds that are planted do not produce a replica of the type of fruit that was planted; therefore, trees must be propagated by vegetative means such as budding or grafting. Typically, they are grafted onto a rootstock, which is just another apple selected for certain characteristics, such as dwarfing and/or disease resistance. (But not eating quality!) The rootstock provides many benefits to the finished tree. The most important one is ultimate tree size control.

In apples, tree size has …

I grafted 10 apple trees in the spring and only a few of the grafts started growing. Can I reuse the rootstocks? What kind of grafting can I do now?

If your bench grafts do not take but the rootstock is healthy and growing, you certainly can re-graft them in the same season.

► The earliest option is chip budding and is done as early as late spring to early summer.

1.      Remove a “chip” of scion tissue which includes a healthy axillary bud.

2.      Remove a chip of comparable size from a healthy section of rootstock.

3.      Place the previously crafted chip of scion in the place where the …

Are there restrictions to grafting my own apple trees?

Some cultivars of apple are under patent. If the patent is still applicable, then you must contact the nursery (or whoever holds the patent) and pay the royalty for each tree you propagate. Failure to do so could lead to criminal penalties, a monetary judgment (and/or fine), and destruction of the trees you propagated. Apple cultivars that are part of an exclusive club or licensing agreement are also illegal to propagate, and there usually is no avenue for a “non-club …

When should apple trees be budded?

Budding time will depend on where you live and the type of budding technique you use. Traditional timing in the northern hemisphere above 36 degrees latitude, roughly the Virginia-North Carolina border, would be to bud trees in late August to early September, when the bark readily “slips.” Slipping refers to the ability of the bark to be easily and smoothly pulled away from the heartwood of the tree. When this occurs, “T-budding” or “chip budding” can be performed. If you …

How do nurseries grow rootstocks?

Rootstocks are commonly propagated by layering to form large stool beds. The “mother plant” is set out in the field. The plant may either be mounded, or it may be trench layered. In mounding, the plant is cut off close to the ground. As the new shoots emerge from the mother plant, they are partially covered with soil or well-decomposed sawdust. The sawdust is renewed periodically during the growing season to prevent the base of the shoot from exposure to …