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Sunday, February 26, 2012

You Say Dekopon, I Say Sumo

The Los Angeles Times recently ran an article that highlights some of the business behind plant propagation like we are doing in class.  It makes for some interesting reading and a little time dreaming about what could this taste like to be the focus of so much praise for flavor? 

In other news, Idalia Ramirez, from last year's propagation class, will be on hand to make the grafting cuts we will use today as I found I didn't have the necessary strength in my right arm to do a satisfactory job of it last week. Idalia has taken what she learned in class last year and has gone on to graft many trees and has shown to have a real knack for it.  It should make for an interesting class.

And cold!  


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rootstocks For Plant Propagation Class

A well rooted rootstalk from Raintree Nursery!  Most of the apple rootstock we used in our class came from this  rootstock on which we practiced saddle grafts. Here is more information about rootstocks for your future grafting endeavors. The Raintree Nursery catalog also describes the rootstocks they carry which is a good source of information too.

The lower portion of the a fruit tree is called the rootstock. This is the portion of the tree that a graft has placed a specific variety onto. Different rootstocks provide opportunities for everyone to enjoy the thrill of growing your own fruit. If you have limited growing space you could choose a dwarf rootstock that limits the height of your tree to as little as 5 feet! There are possibilities and sizes to match almost any need. Lastly, pruning has a great impact on size, if you need to maintain a certain height, or depth for an espalier, then you will also need to prune in the summer.

NOTE: Mature tree size is determined by the rootstock in combination with the vigor of the variety. For example, a Northern Spy or Gravenstein apple on a semidwarf rootstock will be larger than a Jonathan or Idared apple on the same rootstock. Research has shown that the growth of a tree composed of two parts is a compromise between the rootstock and the scion.

It is important for the relationship between scion and rootstock to be close. The botanical classification can only serve as a rough guide being founded strictly on reproduction parts of plants. Something greater than kinship is required for a graft to be successful and that depends on similarity of vegetative characteristics. For example, pears (Pyrus communis) will form a lasting union with hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha) and medlar (Mespilus germanica), but the joining of species within a given genus is much more common.

Symptoms of incompatibility are either immediately visible when the graft simply fails to take but just as often are not apparent for many years afterwards. The most common evidence later on is that the composite tree breaks off at the graft. The problem of incompatibility might be exacerbated by multiple grafts.


MM111 (Semidwarf) Produces a tree 70-80% of standard size. Growth tends to be upright with wide crotch angles. Well anchored, resistant to drought and high soil temperatures. Excellent semi dwarf rootstock for heavy soils. Resistant to wooly aphids. Disadvantage is burrknotting. Bears fruit 3 to 4 years and grows to 15 to 18 feet.

M9 (Dwarf) Produces a tree 30-40% of standard size. Resistant to collar rot and rarely produces suckers. Withstands heavy soils and wet conditions. Disadvantage is that roots tend to be brittle, so trees on this rootstock require staking throughout their entire life. Not suited to dry, light soils. Bears fruit 1-2 years and grows to 6-9 feet.

EMLA 27 Can be maintained at only four to six feet in height. It is well suited for growing in a container of a small yard. Trees grafted on EMLA 27 bear early and heavily. They should be staked.

EMLA 7 Produces a semi-dwarf tree 11 to 16 feet tall. Does well in most soils annd produces fruit in about three to four years. Does well in even wet soils, but is inclined to suckering wherever planted.

EMLA 26 Will produce a dwarf tree from 8 to 14 feet. Des well in most soils, producing fruit in about two to three years. Needs staking in windy sites and is relatively sucker free.


Standard Produces a strong well anchored tree. Trees are vigorous and tolerant of drought and wet soils. Bears fruit between 6-12 years and grows to 20-25 feet.

OHxF 333 (Old Home and Farmingdale) Produces a tree 50-70% of standard size. Resistant to fire blight and pear decline. Does not sucker and developes hardy well anchored tree. Tolerates a broad range of soils. Bears fruit between 3-4 years and grows to 12-16 feet.


Lovell Produces a strong well anchored tree with resistance to bacterial canker. Tolerates cold and wet soils. Susceptible to nematodes in sandy soil. Bears fruit 2-3 years and grows to 15-18 feet. This is a seed-grown, standard peach rootstock

Mariana Produces a shallow rooted tree allowing greater tolerance to wet soils. Resistant to oak root fungus, some nematodes and brown line. Slightly dwarfing for plums and apricots. Bears fruit 2-3 years and grows to 15 – 18 feet.

Myrobalan Produces a tree with great anchorage and tolerant of wet soils. Susceptible to oak root fungus and nematodes. Bears fruit in 2-3 years and grows to 12-18 feet.

Nemaguard Produces a vigorous tree in well drained soils. Susceptible to wet feet. Redundant phrase, but needs to be said, nematode resistant. Bears fruit in 2-3 years and grows to 12-18 feet.

Citation Produces a tree 50-65% of standard in peaches and 75% of standard in apricots and plums. Strong well anchored. Resistant to nematodes, tolerant of wet soils, no suckers, and cold tolerant. (zone 4). Bears fruit in 2-3 years and grows to 12-16 feet.

St Julian A A hardy semi-dwarf rootstock used in a wide variety of soils for plums, peaches and apricots..  It can be propagated from hardwood cuttings.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Getting Ready For The California Rare Fruit Grower's Scion Exchange

 This coming weekend we will be guests of the local California Rare Fruit Growers.  From the local (West Los Angeles) chapter's newsletter about the upcoming scion exchange: 

Scion Wood Preparation

Select straight wood from last year’s growth and cut as near to our scion wood exchange date as possible. 
Wood should be ¼” – 3/8” diameter (pencil size) and contain several buds.
Cut to lengths that fit easily into a Ziploc-type bag.  Cut with a slanting cut on the top (distal) end and flat cut on the end that would have been nearest the trunk (medial).
Bundle by variety in a moist paper towel(s) and place in a Ziploc-type bag,  leaving a slight opening in the Ziploc bag for the wood to breathe. Put only one variety in each bag. Make sure that the towel(s) stay damp as long as the wood is stored.
Label the outside of the bag with fruit type and variety, as well as any additional information you feel is pertinent (i.e. minimum chilling hours; needs pollinator; vigor; area where successfully grown, etc). It’s nice to add your name so that those collecting your wood know where the wood came from and can ask you questions about the parent tree.
Keep the scion wood bag in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator until the morning of the exchange.  Be careful not to let the scion wood freeze!
At the exchange, please wait to make your selections until directed by the Chair.

Please limit your selections to two of any variety, until everyone has had an opportunity to collect wood. Then feel free to go back. Please do not collect wood you do not plan to use.

What to do with your collected scion wood after the scion exchange:

Try out the techniques you have learned as soon as possible! If you don’t plan to graft as soon as you get home, remember to add moist paper to the bag and refrigerate until you have the time to graft. Do not freeze!
Be careful with the label. An all too frequent mistake is to put the label in the bag with the wood. Then, when you add moist paper, the label becomes unreadable.
To avoid bringing disease into your garden, immerse your chosen scion wood cuttings in a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water for 10 seconds.

Have fun creating your trees!
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