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 Anyone tried a Belgian apple fence? 
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:49 pm
Posts: 220
Location: Rochester, WA
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Ok I grafted my 10 apple rootstocks last weekend. I have them wrapped in wet newspaper and pland to keep them moist for about 4 weeks till I plant. I am not confident of my grafting skills so I plan to plant them in a garden plot first to see if I get any to make it before putting them in the final strip where the belgian fence will be. Most of the scionwood I had seemed undersized and I had trouble with the Omega grafter and the 'whip and tongue' grafting. I probably should have cleft grafted. Oh well, I am learning.

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Zone 6 or 7 - Greg in Rochester, WA.


Wed Mar 28, 2007 9:48 am
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
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Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
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Greg, this worries me:

gkowen wrote:
I have them wrapped in wet newspaper and pland to keep them moist for about 4 weeks till I plant.


I’d suspect that if you have a loss it may well be from delaying the growth on these new grafts. I'd plant them immediately (in soil), where you want them to eventually be. The sooner they begin to grow, the better the conditions for meshing their cambial cells and naturally sealing the grafts. If planted in place and some don't survive, remove and replace them. Or, let the rootstock buds sprout, grow strong & tall, develop a root system, then graft onto them next spring (or bud if they're strong enough this August).

An Omega? My concern with that machine is just as you mention; a poor connection between missized rootstock & scion. If the scion shifts away from the edge, it's all over :? And from what I've seen ... it's a very shallow connection... That's where hand-grafting a whip & tongue is so much better; you match the length of your cuts to what will best accommodate the mismatched pieces, then use the tongue to stabilize the scion position at the edge of the rootstock. I've seen the "Omega" in action, and I realize it has several different splice heads - but I'll take my knife for short runs and odd sizes every time.

Cleft grafting a rootstock entails that 'microsurgery' I've joked about. You're placing some mighty tiny pieces of scion into a very small 'cleft.' And that cleft leaves a mighty ugly wound; but honestly, that's one of the most difficult decisions we make when bench grafting... But as I first said, I'd get those little trees planted ASAP - as far as I can tell, there's no better reason not to..?

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Wed Mar 28, 2007 1:11 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:49 pm
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Location: Rochester, WA
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The only reason I haven't is I read on a website that they graft commercially and they get better success just grafting the tree and waiting a month to plant. During the month they do not move it at all, only add water. The idea I got was that the wind or anything that might move the tree could cause the graft to fail. They also protect it from colder weather this way.

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Zone 6 or 7 - Greg in Rochester, WA.


Wed Mar 28, 2007 3:02 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
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Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
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Greg, you've likely seen this aftercare advice before: viewtopic.php?t=273 ... but there it is anyway.

Honestly, I don't know of any commercial growers who’d propagate by bench grafting; around here they bud exclusively. Perhaps with roses, or softwood plants, but apple trees ... they'd go broke bench grafting! They even bud their multi-grafted trees…

Once your grafts are wrapped, you should be able to shake them (but don't) pretty good and not have any shifting occur. My daughter wrapped my grafts at the Exchange this year, with a week or two of heavy practice. We'd give em all (fresh apple grafts on varying sized 'rootstock') a good shake, then carefully un-band them; there was never any misalignment...

And we'll not see any weather cold enough to damage apple grafts now. I'd treat them as you would any mail order tree fresh out of dormancy; heel them in until your hole's are dug, and plant them where you want them to grow. If they don't callous and 'take,' it won't be from motion or cold.

While on the subject ... there is a graft one of our HOS bench grafters uses alot. It's a nice alternative (now I tell you!) between (but don't touch those trees!!) ..the off-sized whip & tongue and the brutal cleft. Here's what it might look like when calloused over: http://web.ukonline.co.uk/suttonelms/laxton.jpg as opposed to a ‘cleaner’ whip & tongue graft: http://www.oznet.k-state.edu/hfrr/HortImage/graft.gif

When the rootstock's two or three times the diameter of the scion, we'll (I've done it too) lop it off wherever best, then make a slanting cut on the scion. Then make a corresponding cut on the 'edge' of the stock, exactly the same width as the scion. You can actually match all the cambium if you're good. Then make a small tongue on each that, after they're slid together, will maintain this 'perfect' match. I'm too lazy to actually hunt down its name... but it's a kind of side graft, with a large 'level' area of the rootstock still exposed, and the scion taking up its own width along the opposite edge. You'd wrap & seal as needed, then treat it like a tree!

Obviously, we're a bit late on that; and maybe this technique should be shown at next years grafting classes as an alternative to the cleft on such 'small' stock. But you've sparked the process with your questions. ...So, I'd put those trees in the ground, and cage them in with chicken wire -- I do! -- 4 steel posts and lots of chicken wire :D

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Wed Mar 28, 2007 4:03 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:49 pm
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Location: Rochester, WA
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Chicken wire? LOL, I don't have deer to worry about. I only have rocks to dig out. I get 2 wheelbarrow loads of rock for each wheelbarrow load of dirt. I dig with a 6 foot crowbar. I really appreciate all the time and effort you put into sharing knowledge on these forums Viron. I am about ready to tackle that gravenstein tree. I have a wedding to photograph this Sunday but I might try to do it before I go. Iam anxious.

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Zone 6 or 7 - Greg in Rochester, WA.


Wed Mar 28, 2007 4:27 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:49 pm
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Location: Rochester, WA
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Ok, so you have convinced me to plant. So I will head home and rototill a new spot near my chain link fence. If you never hear from me again, I need someone to come untangle me from the fence.

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Zone 6 or 7 - Greg in Rochester, WA.


Wed Mar 28, 2007 4:34 pm
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
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Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
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I haven't photographed a wedding in years! ...Probably did at least a dozen... Guess all my friends and family have finally gotten married, or maybe I've discovered another hobby..?

Yes, Chicken wire! ...In both my children's first grade classes I grafted each student an apple tree; even with prior warning, none brought in viable scions... So they each got a Wolf River apple tree! That's been six & eight years ago ... and you should, or maybe you shouldn’t hear just how few survived: Each story begins with: “It grew, but” … "my dad hit it with the mower," "our dog chewed up mine," "my brother ran it over with his dirtbike" ...I've stopped asking... Anyway, fencing in a delicate anything seems a good idea; the only problem is removing the fence to pull grass & weeds.

Rocks... the only thing 'good' about poor clay soil is there's rarely a rock. I grew up in Portland, you had me laughing with your rock-to-wheelbarrow ratio ... I can relate, or at least remember :wink:

It amazes me how many 'hits' this forum gets, and just now I'm bouncing between answering questions over here, and reading about an alternative to iPods elsewhere (the kids are home this week and lobbying hard for iPods). So, I'm as happy to find advice on something I know next-to-nothing about as the next guy! And if I can provide some advice -- all the better :P

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Wed Mar 28, 2007 4:53 pm
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Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2005 3:53 pm
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Location: Seattle, WA
Post Anyone tried a Belgian apple fence
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Hope it's not too late. One piece of advice: Orientation, exposure to the sun, and access for maintenance and harvesting are important considerations.

Although it's certainly possible to plant your Belgian fence against a chain link fence, there might be reasons why you wouldn't want to.

For example, it it's planted in an E-W direction, the exposed side would obviously be facing either N or S. Of the two, N would not be ideal. On the other hand, if it's planted in an N-S direction, the exposed side would obviously be facing either E or W. Of the two, E would not be ideal.

For what it may be worth, mine is an N-S oriented Belgian fence, and I planted mine approx. 4' from the existing chain link fence, so that I could do maintenance and harvesting from both sides. Obviously, if you plant it against a fence, you would have access to it only from one side. The other advantage of N-S orientation with space on both sides is that it's exposed to the sun (on the E and W sides) in both the AM and PM hours, which makes for somewhat balanced growth.

Somethings to think about.


Thu Apr 26, 2007 10:27 am
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Joined: Wed May 23, 2012 3:46 pm
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Post Re: Anyone tried a Belgian apple fence?
How is your Belgian Fence coming along? I have a 12' BF planted east-west on M26 rootstock in Vancouver, WA. The trees are starting their 5th year since I planted them and cut them down to encourage my main branches to grow to form the fence. There are 10 different varieties planted in the fence and all have remained healthy and vigorous with very little intervention (other than pruning). Despite having good blooms for the past two years, fruit production has not been particularly notable on any of the varieties other than Greensleeves. This year I didn't have a particularly good flower bloom, so I'm not expecting much fruit.


Wed May 23, 2012 3:53 pm
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