Successes and failures of a newbie


First off I‘d like to thank all of you for the learning I have done through reading your posts. Here’s a little background on myself. I came into 172 acres of land through an auction in upstate NY, zone 4b. It has been a dream come true to own some significant land. I started like a lot of people buying big box store trees, only to lose them to fire blight, cold etc. The number one greatest move, aside from coming to this forum, was turning to grafting. The control gained through grafting is so important. I , like many, purchased apple trees with varietals I was familiar with, with no knowledge of their disease susceptibility and how important rootstocks are. After dropping some solid cash and basically losing every tree I planted to fire blight or rodent damage, I learned the hard way.

My knowledge gained for newbies:

Pick varietals that thrive in your region, don’t underestimate your rootstocks.
I live in a cold climate and Bud118 is the one that thrives up here. If my grafts die, I know my Bud118 will make it. I let them do their thing and graft to them the following year.

Don’t fight disease susceptibility, choose varietals that work. Unless you plan on spraying all the time, choose varietals that require minimal work to start. My father in law has a tree that gets murdered by CAR every year. I planted one of my grafts nearby, and it thrives, minimal to no CAR. I’m working on him, I think he must have sprayed a store bought tree, lost it, and as a result he’s against spraying. The tree I grafted and planted next to a Cedar tree with no CAR is changing his mind.

If you want success bench grafting, build yourself a heat pipe callus system. Barkslip told me about this. Your success rate will skyrocket. I will never bench graft again without using the heat pipe system.

Protect your young trees. Of course, there’s a million non-desirable plants that grow like crazy that you want to brush hog or remove, that will grow in a way you wish your apple trees would, but every vole, rabbit and deer will focus on your apple and pear trees instead. I’ve seen a lot of methods. Here’s what works for me. 48“ hardware mesh, 1“ or smaller squares. I pound a furring strips into the ground and zip tie the hardware mesh to it. I don’t use herbicides, I just keep things low with the weedwhacker.

Now we’ve discussed grafting and protecting your valuable grafted trees. Tonyomaha gave me some incredible information in regards to fertilization. Urea 46-0-0 is a game changer. I’ve seen shoots on 1-3 year grafted trees of 3‘ and more by July. This is healthy growth. I haven’t seen proof that too quick of growth will result in disease and this is the dampest spring and summer we‘ve had in years. If you’re picking the correct varietals you’re already ahead of the game. I’ve used it on grafted trees, first year in the ground. No burn. Roughly 28 granules per tree soaked in with hose or, 2 tsp per 5 gallon bucket, 1/3 bucket per tree. Apply every 2 weeks. This is very impressive stuff. Just make sure to stop applying in the beginning to mid-July so trees harden off for winter. Get your trees up to size then switch to a more balanced fertilizer for fruit growth.

Losses will occur. You will lose trees. Disease, rodents, drought etc. Just graft ever year, be ready to replace your dead. Don’t give up on those rootstocks that survive even though the graft didn’t take. Care for that tree. That rootstock setting strong roots will be very receptive to next years graft attempts,

Prune. I like pushing growth on my trees because I know come winter I‘m gonna prune them well. Don’t be afraid to prune. By doing so you are creating a great foundation for your tree. If you fertilize and spray as mentioned above, your trees will throw out shoots that will impress you. View your trees as an investment. There’s growth occurring below ground and your pruning will result in a tree that will be a great producer. I view the trees I plant as something my son will ultimately cash in on. I hope to live long enough to see the fruits of my labor. Personally I just enjoy the process.

Last topic I’ll touch is spraying. I’m no expert on it. I focus on tree varietals that don’t require much. I’m a dormant oil, neem, copper, bonide fruit spray kind of grower at the moment. That may change in time, regardless, you have to do some element of spraying, Too many pests and diseases want to get at your apple/pear trees. Just listen to the people on this site who have the knowledge on the topic.

Best of luck, I hope this helps some of you. I‘m no big time orchardist, I’m just passing on my experiences as a beginner.


Solid 3 year growth on this Bosc pear


Beautiful barn, reminds me of my summers days at our farm in Ohio. Acres of corn, cattle, and huge shade trees. Fresh milk, cream and pies!


i like urea also. put some under my trees and bushes in early may and the growth they put on is astounding! so much so i had to stake trees i thought didn’t need it.