[NAFEX] multiple apple cultivars on one tree?

list at ginda.us list at ginda.us
Thu Apr 17 19:21:30 EDT 2003

I expect you're right.  Nonetheless, I don't regret doing it.  I had 
fun grafting.  I got most of my grafts to "take".  And on the other 
tree, I appear to have 5 healthy apple cultivars on a healthy tree.  
That's five more cultivars than I would have had room to plant on their 
own roots.  I'm not looking for grat production from them, just the 
chance to taste fresh some unusual apples that can't be purchased 
locally.  If I get fruits within a few years, it will definitely have 
been worthwhile.  And the dead crab left behind a place to put an 
eating apple.  (And if that one dies of replant problems, I suppose I 
can always add a lilac or something.)


On Wednesday, April 16, 2003, at 11:42  PM, Lon J. Rombough wrote:

>    It's very likely that one or more of the varieties you grafted on 
> the crab was a symptomless carrier of virus.   There are viruses that 
> have little or no effect on cultivated apples, but will attack a 
> number of species of crab apples, causing the death of the tree.  If 
> you peel the bark off the crab apple, you may find that the wood is 
> pitted, while the wood of the scion is not.
>    I've gotten letters from NAFEX members that were pretty irate about 
> multiple graft trees as a cause of spreading virus, with some who left 
> the group because they didn't want to be part of it, or even because 
> they got virus infected material from someone with a multiple variety 
> tree.  It's much better to graft one variety per dwarf rootstock than 
> a collection on a single large tree.  I have a multiple graft tree for 
> my own enjoyment, but I also have the important varieties on 
> individual stocks if I share scionwood.  And there ARE signs of virus 
> in my big tree - apple mosaic and burr knots - which don't show up on 
> the individual trees.  I destroy all the wood from the big tree.
> -Lon Rombough
> Grapes, writing, consulting, my book, The Grape Grower, at 
> http://www.bunchgrapes.com
> From: list at ginda.us
> Reply-To: North American Fruit Explorers <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2003 22:38:29 -0400
> To: North American Fruit Explorers <nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Subject: Re: [NAFEX] multiple apple cultivars on one tree?
> I grafted a bunch of varieties onto two crab apples.  One of them had
> some leaves that were oddly shaped after that.  It may have had them
> before I grafted for all I know - I hadn't looked at it too closely.  
> But I did worry if I might have given it a virus.  Two years ago we had
> a serious summer drought, and that tree nearly died.  It finished dying
> last year (in more dry weather, although I watered it.)  The other crab
> did fine, and I haven't seen any other dead or dying apples around
> town.  So I think it's likely that something from the multiple grafts
> weakened the crab.   Whether that was a virus, or some kind of
> incompatibility, or just that there were "holes" in its skin where the
> grafts hadn't fully healed, I couldn't say.  I do know that if I'd just
> pruned it and not put on the extra wood, it would have been minor
> pruning.  (That is, I didn't chop off much of the tree to graft it.)
> I was very careful to graft each type of scion onto only one of the two
> crabs, and to wash all my tools carefully between trees.  So a virus
> transmitted to one would likely have missed the other.
> The other crab is looking very happy right now, with 5 different
> cultivars grafted to it.  Interestingly, the crab twigs have tiny
> leaves showing, and the grafted twigs just have swelling buds.  I don't
> know if that's because the crab is naturally earlier or if its because
> of some compatibility thing.  But some of the grafts look like they
> might flwoer this year, which would be very exciting for me.
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