Scion season is starting, and in the interest of marital harmony I’m looking for ways of scion storage that are not in the fridge. I don’t have a 2nd fridge or anything like that (though I hope to get one for next winter).
I have a “workshop” space that is basically an unheated room in my basement leading the garage. It is usually between 42-48F. Is this too warm for scion storage? I keep my potted fig trees in there without a problem.
I would worry about them budding out prematurely in anything less chilly than a refrigerator. I’ve heard of keeping scion wood under snow but never in a garage where temps may go up during a warm spell.
The cheapest refrigerators without defrost are the best for storing scion wood and can be had for about $100. Tell you wife about some of your friends that can spend that much in a couple nights at the local bar.
You will end up putting the fridge to use to store surplus fruit as well. Next thing, you will need one for fruit and another for scions. They can’t be stored in the same fridge at the same time.
The best temperature would be anywhere between 35 and 40 degrees (1-4 maybe 4.5 celsius). Some people say you can go with up to -2 celsius, roughly 28 degrees (of course wood has to be dormant and not sprouted). Last year I kept my scions in fridge set on 4 degrees (39.2) and all went well, some cherries buds started to swell after about 2months. This year I did the same and checked after 1month (few days ago). To my suprise few japanese plums were already budding out. I checked the temperature and it was set to 5C (41F) so after a heated discussion with my wife we made a 2 month lasting deal and temperature is set for 3C (37.4F). It seems like even 1 degree Celsius makes a difference, at least in my case.
There are many people who keep scionwood outside, they just stick it into sand or even soil under the tree in my zone 6b/7a. This can be done with apples which last longer than stone fruit. There is a disadvantage of this cause your scions might get chewed/eaten by something (fauna here likes apples the most). My neighbor just made a hole in the shade on the northern side of his shed, put a plastic pipe there and keeps scions about 70cm deep (2f4in). He covers it with stone so the rodents don’t get it and that’s it. Different people/different ways of keeping scionwood
I keep everything as close to 32 degrees as I can. Scions will remain useable at that temp for a long time. You can get a used refrigerator either full size or apartment/dorm size for under $100. It doesnt have to be pretty as long as it runs and doesnt smell like something died inside it you will be good to go!
Paul, old timers would resort to many methods, but refrigerators were once a luxury. It is much more convenient to have scionwood arranged in easy to reach bags if you are doing a lot of grafting with a range of varieties than burying them in dirt. It is hard enough keeping track and taking out just what you need for the day even with the convenience of a scion fridge.
I fail to see the advantage of keeping the wood much above freezing- what is that theory based on? With fruit in long term storage I can understand it, but with wood I’d think the closer to freezing the better.
Alan, I do agree with you. I think many sources say 35-40 so you can graft right after taking scionwood out of fridge. I was discussing this with many people before and one of them said he has scionwood stored in 28 degrees. If you think about it trees can handle much lower temperature so scionwood should be the same, if fully dormant.
I also met people (not just one) who say fridge is the worst place for scionwood because of mold issues etc. (I don’t share that opinion, I like my fridge for the reasons you wrote above but oldtimers think otherwise).
They just leave scionwood outside in the ground. If the ground gets frozen they leave it on the snow just like that and move it to fridge later in March or April (talking about zone 6b) or leave it outside the whole time. One guy said he has been leaving scionwood outside in the shade for 40 years and never had a problem. He even said one apple scion that he left in the ground by the northern side of the tree took when he used it next year. Someone else is leaving scionwood in a well and said that works pretty well too.
Some people put scionwood in a weak solution of Potassium permanganate before storing to prevent mold from growing. Others wrap scionwood in newspaper (print has supposedly antifugal effect) and some use a rag which has a bit of vinegar in it. Everyone has different ways in stroring scionwood I guess.
There can actually be quite a variance in my fridge just depending on what shelf or bin you are using. If I want to know what temp I am storing something at I use a small digital thermometer. I leave it in place and check it at different times of the day for three days or so.
I’ve got a remote temperature sensor I put in my fridge. Not only does temp vary with location, mine has about a 5F range as cooling cycles off/on. I want my scions as cold as possible without freezing. There might be issues with freeze drying at temps below 32F. Not sure there would be. If not 28-32F would be ideal.
Alan, this was more than 4 years ago but it was mostly apples.
My neighbor is still storing scions in a plastic pipe about 2.5ft below ground. He digs the hole puts the pipe in and stores any scions he wants (northern side, permanent shade here in zone 7A/B). It’s the same principle as this
I am still putting my scions in fridge with 39F. 39F is way too warm but my family is not a big fan of frozen yogurts, vegetables etc. so I must go with that. I keep them in ziploc bags and inspect it once per month or so, usually just partly wipe off the condensation to prevent mold from forming. I use up all the scionwood by May and it’s still dormant if collected at right time. For stone fruit, I collect at the beginning of December but even mid November is ok, apples and pears December/January. Long time ago I thought the later I collect (to a certain degree) the longer it is going to last. This was completely wrong assumption since the scions I collect in January go out of dormancy much sooner than the one I collect in November or December.
I think plastic bags with very small holes might be great for scions that retain a lot of water (like figs) or are easier to get moldy (like apricots) but maybe not the best for pawpaws, persimmons… If you ever try let me know how it goes. I am too lazy to try new ways, the one I described works great for me And yeah if I had a separate fridge where I could set 33 or 34F the scionwood would probably last a year without any issues but I don’t really want to go that way. For me the scions are like a curse that is lifted after they disappear from fridge if you know what I mean haha (such a waste to throw them away).