Topworking old Sorbus with Shipova

First of all - thanks for inviting me to the forum, what a treasure chest of information and inspiration!

I’ve just ordered some scionwood for the sorbus-pear hybrid Shipova. My plan is to use it on an older Sorbus Intermedia. The Shipova bears very late (I’ve read everything from 8 to 20 years), and I was hoping both to spur faster fruiting by placing it on an old mother tree, and faster growth by bark grafting on significantly bigger limbs of the mother than I’ve had the courage to do before.

The Sorbus tree is approx 8 meters tall and only have big trunks on the bottom half of the tree. The main trunk has a diameter of around 50 cm. My long term plan is to, trunk by trunk, replace most of the Sorbus limbs of the tree with Shipova.

My concern - of course - is that I’ll harm the Sorbus by making these big cuts. But since it’s a healthy tree, and these beauties grow really old, this tree might have a good 50 years or so to go at least, I figured I might as well give it a go.

So - my question to you - do you have any experience on topworking trunks with bigger diameters? And where might one say the upper limit to trunk size / cut size goes?

Best wishes from Stockholm, Sweden

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Welcome to the forum!
Topworking larger diameter limbs or main stem is certainly possible, I’d put 6 or so scions bark grafted around the circumference. Main issue is that it is unlikely the tree will heal over such a large exposed stub, so I’d recommend working over individual limbs if that’s feasible. To induce spur formation, bending down the resultant shoots may help. Good luck! Shipova gets mixed reviews as far as the fruit quality is concerned, hope it does well for you in your location.

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Thank you so much for your answer Jesse!

Yes - then I’ll stick to the plan of working over the individual limbs. I think the tree is quite climbable, or reachable from a ladder - I could give it a go on a higher elevated limb this spring - if it turns out ok for this years scions then I could work my way down the tree the following seasons.
That way, I’m thinking, I don’t have to worry about damaging any Shipova grafts on the lower levels on the tree if I, the following seasons, remove bigger limbs from above.
And if the project doesn’t work out, my Shipova not being accepted by the Sorbus mama, I’ll just leave it with one or two upper limbs being missing from the tree rather than having damaged the whole Sorbus.
The Shipova is a novelty here in Sweden, just a few trees fruiting in the whole country I think, but from what I’ve read the fruit quality is promising in our climate.

welcome to your new addiction Nils! i have a Shipova on Aronia rootstock i planted 2 years ago. its growing but slowly. i also have 6 different pears grafted to a 2 m tall mountain ash. all are growing very vigorously. if you can get some pear scions id try them too. i also planted a ivans belle moutain ash last year and think i may get berries next summer. hopefully a few pears too. fingers crossed.

Hi Nilzie:

Hope you are doing fine in your part of the world. Just curious to know what other nordic people like you have as a fruit tree collection? Probably apples, pears and plums, right? Anything else easily found in nordic countries or not? I have some Shipova as well: 1 tree is 6 years old, 5 more are 3 years old. I bought last year a sorbus (Evan’s edible) found mainly at Whiffletree (name of a nursery in Ontario, Canada). Their catalogue says nice things about it, so I bought.



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Hey Nils welcome! Hey is that you playing in your avatar? Is that a clarinet? I can’t see well anymore. I used to trade live tapes with many of your fellow countrymen.
On subject, sounds like it will work. I added a Shipova last year. What a beautiful tree. Glad I added it even if I don’t live long enough to see fruit. I enjoy the ornamental beauty of the tree.

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Welcome Sir! I have just joined here and find the membership surprises me everyday. (Beats SOTW by far you will find). Zone 3, yikes, I’m fussing about the warm wind here today.

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Thanks Steve :slight_smile: Interesting, I’ve seen Aronia growing vigorously on Sorbus, Swedish whitebeam, but never heard of using Aronia as the rootstock. I’ll make sure to try pear on this whitebeam too :-), pear scionwood is abundant in my garden. I don’t know what varieties, but there are several older trees that no longer fruit well (I think they’re old and tired - hope that will improve with some pruning over the next years). Good luck with the Ivan’s Belle mountain ash!

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Thanks Shabou. Apples are the main staple here in Sweden. And the further south in Sweden you go, the more pears and plums you’ll taste. For berries, every older garden would have currants, gooseberries and raspberries.

I realized there might be some confusion on the different Shipova varieties, the scionwood I’ll work with is a variety named “Hagebuttenbirne”. What does the leaves of your Shipova look like? And have they fruited yet?

Haha, sharp eyes I would say that you have, since you saw the clarinet. Yep, that’s what I do for a living, the fruit trees is my hobby and passion off the stage. Where did you get your Shipova, are these trees readily available in nursing schools around you?

Mail order from other states that have nurseries that have it. Easy to get, yes.
So what are your influences in music? I would guess you like jazz, but classical, chamber, heck even rock. I like rock and roll, but more refined, progressive, fusion, traditional jazz too, some classical music and opera, but I’m more into instrumental jazz, fusion, and progressive rock, like Soft Machine. In my era, I’m dating myself.
I listen to all kinds of jazz too, but not as much as I used to. I love live music, I play pretty much only live music for myself. It’s a cool time as so many are releasing live music and archival stuff too. I do enjoy small ensembles that seek good music like Ensemble Modern. And I like all the classical rock too, but that is more for social events. By myself some kind of instrumental, soundtrack music I find interesting too.
I don’t play myself, I did play keys when young, more of a fan now.
Sorry getting off topic.


Dance like no one is watching!

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Hi Nilzie: Even the oldest Shipova has not fruited yet. Shipova are supposed to be quite slow bearer. I have no idea what variety of Shipova I got from Whiffletree (nursery). When summer comes I’ll try to take a picture of the leaf. I remember that the are quite beautiful whit their silvery “coating”. Marc

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@Drew51 Soft Machine is pretty awesome!

What all can shipova be grafted onto? I really want to try to grow some.

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I have it fruiting on aronia.

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i think i asked you before but how long did it take to fruit for you? mines about 4ft on 3rd leaf. been a very slow grower. i have it in a raised, mulched bed.

Probably year 4 I got 3 fruit. Maybe it was year 5. I probably grafted 2 feet off the ground and from memory, it’s probably pruned and around 6 feet tall or so.

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