I posted this question earlier on a very long misc thread, but got no response. I deleted that post, so as not to spam the forum. I figured opening a dedicated thread on the topic might get more of a response to the question below.
I have a question regarding taking root cuttings or transplanting a root sucker. If you establish a new independent sapling from root growth, will the resultant tree bring forth fruit sooner?
I realize most commercial fruit trees use rootstock that won’t produce a desirable variety of fruit. However, I have some productive long established European plum trees that I believe must have been grown from seed because of their advanced ages. Some of these trees throw root suckers that I’m thinking of harvesting. I realize people would say simply propagate the tree via grafting or air layering, but recent attempts at both haven’t been successful. One plum tree is likely approaching a century old, although I’m not sure of the exact age. My family has owned the property for 60 years and several of these plum trees were already very old when the property was first purchased. These plum trees and a pear are likely at least 80+ years old, and could possibly be 100 as the propperty was homesteaded in the 1918 - 20 era. I realize plum trees aren’t supposed to live that long, but I know for certain several specimens have to be well in excess of sixty years old.
These plum trees are on their last legs and I dearly want to clonally propagate at least one of these heritage varieties that I believe to be a Pershore plum. I did successfully bud graft the Pershore tree onto an Italian plum tree 20+ years ago, but that tree succumbed to disease and was removed.
My recent attempts to propagate this tree via grafting or air layering have all failed. There is almost no first year wood of appropriate size to attempt grafting next year, and what little wood I harvested in Aug for bud grafts did not take for the second year in a row.
This tree still produces a small crop of very large size excellent quality oval yellow plums. Unfortunately,
this tree is in steady decline from its glory days and I’m sure it won’t last much longer. I really would like to clonally propagate this tree. It has sent a few root suckers up this year that I’m intending to try and cut/transplant when the leaves drop in the fall. If this is successful, will the tree propagated from root cuttings still take many years to come to fruition, or will it produce fruit quickly because of the mature age of the parent?
My only experience with this was with a prune plum. A transplanted sucker from a copse that had grown up after a bearing tree was killed (backhoe accident) took nine years to come into bearing, the same as a scion from that copse grafted onto nanking cherry.
I have some plum trees that were present in 1994 when I built my home. I had no idea if they would ever produce but after about 15 years they began to flower, then about three years later there were enough flowers to actually pollinate and fruit. I do not know how they got established but I suspect by seed since there are no mother plants nearby of the same fruit variety. That’s a longtime to wait. Each year your valued tree will have a higher risk of expiring before you can clone it. Since it’s fruit variety you desire to keep, I suggest saving you best dormant one year old wood this winter as scions. Obtain a good quality rootstock and query your Canadian members nearby to see who has had success grafting to see if someone would drop by to help you graft onto a new rootstock. I would not bet on the ones you dig up. But obtain either a good quality peach or Adara plum rootstock and use that to accelerate your fruit production while you still have scions. One of our members Kevin Baron says that peach is the best rootstock for plums. He has a lot of experience so I trust his knowledge.
You can most likely find an experienced member for grafting plums nearby with this map. I used it to locate several members within driving distance and we now help each other do the more challenging tasks
Thank you all for your responses, although the lengthy time to flower/fruit wasn’t what I was hoping to hear. If it takes 15 years for a root sucker to bear fruit, I’ll likely be dead before ever getting to taste any.
I used the most viable 1st year scion wood for budding this summer. There wasn’t much of it available. There was very little first year wood, and what there of it was ravaged by a severe aphid infestation. It likely happened because I went heavy on the nitrogen to promote growth and instead all it did was attract aphids.
I looked again today at my attempts to bud the Pershore plum this summer. I thought none of them took, but it’s possible one was successful. Unfortunately, I thought a tree grown from a sucker would produce quicker, so I grafted on to a sucker I’d potted last year. I thought it was a good candidate for root stock because it came from a very small naturally dwarfed prune type plum tree grown from seed.
I had the impression from your initial statement that you probably have some new wood for scions this winter, since your statement implies it fruited this year. (most plums will fruit on last year’s new wood) Sorry to hear about your aphid experience, the same happened here. On my trees that were affected, I still got some late season growth. Your aphid attack probably did not prevent all new growth, so take a good look at what you have once you have dormant wood. In plums you can often use two year old wood if your root stock is large enough to take the graft.