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 Already thinking about spring 
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Joined: Sun Sep 12, 2010 12:14 pm
Posts: 9
Location: Berkeley Springs, WV
Post Already thinking about spring
With Christmas over, and New Years not quite here yet, my thoughts are turning to springtime. I have already been receiving some nursery catalogs, and my mind is just racing ahead. So, I have a couple of ideas, but some advice, suggestions, and help would be much appreciated. First, I had a sour cherry tree that the scion part of the tree died, the roots sent up a new trunk, and it seems to be quite healthy. I do want a sour cherry tree, so my question is, do I leave it alone and hope for the best? Will the cherries be of good quality, or not since I don't know what rootstock its on other than the fact it is a known semi-dwarf. Or do I graft a new scion onto the existing roots?

Next question, I have a Pixie Crunch apple tree that I purchased from Henry Fields a couple of years ago. This is a full size tree, not a semi-dwarf and seems to be doing well. I would like to graft several different varieties onto this tree, since I will have a large tree to work with. What kind of graft would you suggest, and is it possible to have an almost unlimited number of grafts on this tree? Does anyone have a favorite place to get scions from? I live in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, zone 6.

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Molly F
Berkeley Springs, WV


Fri Dec 28, 2012 5:29 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1161
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
Post Re: Already thinking about spring
Regarding the sour (or pie) cherry; my experience dormant grafting cherry trees has been dismal, and I’ve attempted quite a few. They’re best Budded mid to late summer - and it’s too bad you weren’t able to give that a go back then. You’d have placed several (to get one) buds fairly low on the new rootstock growth. If they’d have shown viability (not died), this spring you could have cut the stock off above one of them and allowed a grafted bud to become the ‘trunk’ of the new tree. You’d have to have procured the cherry bud-stick variety you wanted, but that’s not too difficult if you have access to any that time of year.

You can also attempt a dormant graft. A ‘whip & tongue’ would be my recommendation, placed as low on the new root stock as possible.

Personally, on a cherry tree that young, I’d replace it… Your time is likely worth more than the cost of a new one, I know mine is.

Regarding the Apple; I applaud you going for a ‘full sized tree,’ with yearly pruning, they’ve the potential to be whatever size you like. Your tree shouldn’t be that “large” at the moment, though more vigorous than a ‘dwarf.’ Whip & Tongue grafts are my favorite. They’re a bit trickier than a more crude ‘Cleft Graft,’ but give a cleaner, smoother connection.

What I’ve done is bought a ‘base tree,’ often times a Yellow Delicious for their excellent pollination, vigor and availability, plant it – and immediately graft 3 or (say) 4 limbs of something I really want, usually several varieties. There is no limit as to how many varieties you can graft to an apple tree… but be careful – it’s addictive :mrgreen:

If you’re not comfortable with a whip & tongue graft, a cleft graft will work fine – especially if the stock at the graft location is twice as ‘thick’ as the scion. Just make your grafts around eight inches out from the ‘trunk,’ further out leaves them vulnerable to damage from storms and pruning. …ideally, you’d ‘bud graft’ these, too… that’s how the nurseries do their ‘cocktail’ or multi-grafted trees. But you’re on the right track.

…as far as scion wood… as an HOS member, there’s only one place I can recommend – our ‘Scion Exchange’ near Portland, Oregon… Otherwise, this is (another) good time for someone else to step in, as I’ve never had to order ‘mail order’ scions…

Good questions, good luck, and welcome to our Forum 8)

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Sat Dec 29, 2012 5:02 pm
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Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 10:57 am
Posts: 1363
Location: Portland, OR
Post Re: Already thinking about spring
The only thing I would say in addition to Viron's always great advice is that it is much easier to whip and tongue graft pie cherries than sweet cherries. FOr sweet cherry, I would only bud. With pie cherry, I would both graft and bud. I would try to graft Montmorency or something in late winter, depending on your local time frame.
Both work for apples.
One advantage of a full size tree in a rural area is that you can prune it so that the deer won't steal your apples.
John S
PDX OR


Mon Dec 31, 2012 7:55 pm
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Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 1:21 pm
Posts: 419
Location: SW Washington
Post Re: Already thinking about spring
For some reason I've had better luck with dormant grafting of cherries and plums than with budding them.

It probably says more about my inability to bud graft well than anything else.


Tue Jan 01, 2013 12:59 am
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Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2012 9:30 am
Posts: 78
Location: Springfield, OH Zone 6a
Post Re: Already thinking about spring
I also have a pixie crunch apple, although mine is on semi-dwarf I believe. It, along with my golden delicious, got ravaged by deer last spring before I fenced in my backyard. So, I'm wondering if your tree has produced any apples yet and how good they were.

Also, I'm in zone 6 as well (sometimes 5 depending on the winter) and it seems the best time to collect scions around here is mid to late February, so everything is deeply dormant, but you won't have to wait very long to graft. As far as where to get scions though? I'd just ask around. There are probably people in your general area that, while they may not be orchardists per se, likely wouldn't mind you pruning up their trees a bit and taking some scions while you're at it.


Tue Jan 01, 2013 12:00 pm
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Joined: Sun Sep 12, 2010 12:14 pm
Posts: 9
Location: Berkeley Springs, WV
Post Re: Already thinking about spring
Thanks for the advice on grafting the cherry tree. I am going to attempt to graft onto the existing rootstock. I have very hard West Virginia clay here, so I think the existing rootstock should have a better chance, as not all trees make it here. Any volunteers to show me how to graft?

As far as the apple tree, I am going to graft some other varieties onto it. Finding people around here with scions to swap with has been challenging, but I did a Google search and found a few places that sell scions. The existing pixie crunch apple tree has not yet produced so I haven't been able to taste it, but from reviews I have read, it is supposed to be very good, I'll have to wait and see.

It was mentioned that having a full sized tree meant it could be pruned so deer don't get any apples...well, uh. I have about 100 trees and bushes. So far the past few years I not been bothered at all by deer. I don't spray or put up any deterrent yet. My neighbor on the other hand, only has a few trees and his trees get ravished all the time. Personally I think he has a sign down there that reads "Deer Welcome Here-All You Can Eat Fruit Tree Buffet". :P I hope they stay away, but I know eventually that won't happen.

Thanks again for the great advice. I have never grafted yet, so wish me luck.

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Molly F
Berkeley Springs, WV


Thu Jan 03, 2013 3:58 am
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Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2012 9:30 am
Posts: 78
Location: Springfield, OH Zone 6a
Post Re: Already thinking about spring
Hey Molly, I've found some great grafting videos on YouTube. There's a guy in the UK named Stephen who has a plethora of grafting, propagating and pruning videos. His videos seem to be some of the more popular ones when you search and he's very knowledgeable.


Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:03 pm
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