So, this spring I’m doing apricots as part of my dive in to grafting. I want a multi-grafted tree or trees. Originally, I was going to start with one variety and add more later, but then I got more ambitious (cocky? greedy?).
I’ve ordered 4 seedling Manchurian apricots for roots, and I have 1 stick each of Tomcot, Orange Red, and Zard coming as well. My initial thought was to do multiple chip buds on each rootstock and try to get them all to grow. However, I read in several posts here that can result in narrow crotch angles. My new plan is to take 1/2 of each stick and graft it on its own, then use the remaining halves in an interstem manner on the remaining rootstock. That’s 3 single-variety trees and 1 multigraft for those keeping count.
The eventual goal is to train to a 3-4 scaffold open center, and if the multi tree doesn’t work, I’ll (hopefully) have a backup of at least one of the varieties on the remaining trees. Once established, I’ll only be keeping 1 or 2 trees (full sun growing spaces are at a premium).
Right now I’m thinking, from top to bottom:
- Orange Red
My thinking is that it would be better to have the more upright Zard at the bottom to keep the overall tree from shooting upward, and the more vigorous Orange Red at the top to keep overall growth in check. (I’m basing these attributes on catalog descriptions, so you won’t hurt my feelings if you tell me I’m wrong).
Does this sound like a reasonable plan to the more experience apricot-ers and grafters out there? Does it even really matter? Or should I consider a different plan to get the most out of my scionwood?
Also, any general advice on trying to interstem or otherwise multi-graft in a single season would be greatly appreciated.
I’m not a grafter but, I do have a couple 4 way grafted trees. They were a waste of money. Each one a single variety dominated and I had no choice but to make the tree mostly that variety or continue to fight that one variety. I would stick to one per root stock.
I have heard that, and I did take it in to consideration. I have limited space, so my best bet to ensure good pollination is a multi-graft. I keep my pruners sharp and am prepared to do battle if necessary. Hopefully I don’t end up eating crow instead of apricots…
Maybe put two varieties on and go with a open vase. Matching variety on opposite side. That way your tree will be more balanced instead of lopsided like mine is from the dominant branch.
Interstems have lower odds of success and apricots are one of the harder things to graft. With both of those things working against you I would not recommend your plan.
I would instead recommend grafting two varieties to each root. You can do this by bark grafting one to each side of the stock. Look up Konrads bark grafting method to see how you can make the scion ends small enough to get two on one stock. I have done this before and it worked out OK (maybe I even posted a picture here, I recall mentioning it before). Another reason to do two per stock instead of one is some will fail and you will be doubling your number of grafts and thus doubling your odds.
That’s an interesting suggestion, and I believe I’ve seen your previous posts on that grafting technique. My rootstocks are quoted as 3/16" average caliper. Will 2 scions fit on that small of a rootstock using the Konrad’s bark graft? Also, what about apricots makes them difficult? I’ve read I should wait a little later in the season til temps are warm and buds are swelling or leafed out, as with persimmon, but are there any other special considerations?
I could also go with my alternate plan of putting backup chips on the individual grafted trees and use whatever’s left on the 4th rootstock. Then grow out in pots until I get the final tree assembled.
I whittled some away from the inside of the two scions so they would not be bumping in to each other. Note this graft is a bit more tricky and that is a reason to not try it.
Apricots like peaches are highly temperature specific for callousing. You also need as much vigor in the stock as possible given this difficulty, and fresh bareroot stocks will seriously lack vigor. I never had luck grafting peaches or apricots to stocks I had just planted that spring; some bench grafts did work but then many did not grow out (the whole thing died).
Ok, good to know on the vigor. I’m planning on babying them indoors to better control temps, humidity, etc. I guess I’ll weigh my options, not get my hopes up too much, and keep my fingers crossed. Having to buy or trade for scions a second time isn’t so bad of an outcome… Maybe just keep the 4th rootstock in reserve and try and establish my scaffold branches on that one.
I’m in a similar situation and I don’t have a lot of experience either. My plan is to plant any patented varieties (that I can’t graft) in winter, do knee-high cut and grow 4-5 scaffolds until late spring/early summer and try budding different variety on each scaffold (leaving one for fruit from the mother tree). This would let me grow out and establish good scaffolds before bud grafting different varieties. You can also do the same with your rootstock, aka make it establish scaffolds and bud later in summer or next winter. I think @Stan did something similar, if I’m not wrong. I’m curious why you want to start grafting as soon as you plant.
Summer budding requires access to fresh budwood from the same year’s growth. In other words, the varieties you’re going to bud have to grow somewhere within driving distance from your place. Not everybody is lucky to have that.
For Jay (@jcguarneri ) my advice would be to not try to create a perfect multigraft tree at once. First, graft one variety per tree. Since you don’t have established roots, your best approach would be bench grafting. Read about bench grafting and methods to keep the graft union at an elevated temperature for callusing. For apricots, the recommended temperature is 70 F and the callusing period is about 10 days. After you grow these trees for a year, you will have established roots and scaffold structure to graft to. This will be the next stage at creating your multigraft trees.
seriously recommend two trees one hole rather than multigrafting.
That’s some good, sensible advice. I’m studying and practicing the ins and outs of grafting carefully, but my enthusiasm has a tendency to get me ahead of myself…
If I understand correctly, you’re recommending grafting while the rootstock is still dormant and using a heat source such as a hot callous pipe on the graft union? My understanding of that technique is that the roots should be kept cool and everything kept dark, but I’m not sure I have a space where I can keep the roots cool enough and the graft warm enough at the same time. Is it a problem for the roots to also be close to 70?
I had considered that initially, but am now leaning away from it on reports that it doesn’t work quite as well in the sunshine limited East.
In the standard bench grafting approach, the entire tree is held at elevated temperature (e.g., 70 F for apricots) during the callusing period and then moved to a dark cool storage (34-36 F) until the planting time. The use of a hot pipe for the graft union while the roots are kept cool is a more advanced technique used to increase the success rate for harder to graft species.
Ah ok. That sounds very doable. I could probably even stick them in my desk drawer at work, as the office is at a steady 72°. Worked wonders for my fig cuttings!
Thanks for the advice!
Note that you need to keep the roots damp (e.g., buried in moist sawdust or perlite, or covered with a damp towel).
Yes, of course. I may even just put them in the pots that I’ll be growing them out in, if I think the whole deal will fit. I appreciate you taking the time to make sure I had the whole picture!
I think I underestimated the size of desk drawer at your work.
ha ha, true. I hope San Jose <-> Tracy counts as driving distance