What to do this spring about a runted graft from last spring?

Late last spring I omega grafted a Northern Spy Scion onto some G.202 rootstock. It was one of two grafts that actually took. The other was unceremoniously relieved from existence by a rabbit. This one didn’t do diddly until the 2nd week of July, and even then it just didn’t seem very inspired. In the end it only grew about 4".

So, spring is coming and I’m debating what to do with this thing. I don’t think I want to head cut it, do I? I know that would encourage new vegetative growth, but there just isn’t much to last years growth.

Any thoughts on how to proceed?

I have a few B.9s in similar straits. I’m guessing pulse them with some modest balanced fertilizer every few weeks during spring and early summer to encourage some vigor (but not fireblight). And keep the competing weeds down. I doubt pruning would help at this point. Just let the apically dominant tip do its thing. Would be interested to hear what others have to say.

Generally apples get their main growth out of their spring surge, so just do what you’d do for any young tree. Nitrogen is the primary stimulator of growth- make sure there is an adequate amount of that as growth begins. A second app would probably be adequate for max growth, but it depends on the medium its growing in. In a potting mix, I agree with Matt’s suggestion- perhaps fertilizing lightly with every watering.

Better grafting success comes from a more vigorous rootstock. Transplanted trees usually lose much of that surge and need a year to reassume full vigor and then grafting success comes much easier. I think the reason a lot of people get low success grafting to rootstocks is the rootstock itself in in transplant shock at the time of grafting.

Your little tree should plug in this year and show you something. N.Spy can put out some wood.


So these were planted in 1 Gallon bags with store purchased topsoil and a mix of burr mulch and then watered with city water right out the hose for the summer. (maybe they were 3 gallon…I forget)

I’m trying to be a big proponent of just letting the trees do what they will with what they have as I can’t tend to them like a full time orchard keeper may be able to. Pruning, sure, but regular spraying or fertilizing weren’t in my plans. (I am willing to accept a reduced or no crop as a consequence)
This year, this tree comes out of the bag and gets a new permanent home. Since I’m digging the hole anyhow, I can work some nitrogen into the soil to try and give it some pep. I plan to leave the dirt it’s in now around the roots to prevent too much transplant shock for a second year.

I’m wondering if the bag was too restrictive for it. What size pots do the people here use for first year rootstock grafts?


A follow up on this; The scion shot another 8"-ish so far this spring and another two buds shot out:

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