[NAFEX] gooseberry on jostaberry

Ribes60 at aol.com Ribes60 at aol.com
Tue Jun 10 08:58:14 EDT 2003

I think that I wrote that article, it was in Pomona and Northland Berry News. 
The grower was (is) Peter Howenstein in Switzerland. I had met Peter through 
the internet and regular correspondence and was intriged by his planting. I 
had thought that grafting gooseberries to Josta would solve a lot of problems, 
such as getting them higher, opening them up (by trellising them) and may 
reduce the problems of mildew. One comment was "wouldn't it be great to have 
Hinnomaki Yellow berries growing at fout feet above ground". The plan was to reverse 
the "dwarf apple concept" and have larger, more upright plants. What often 
happened was that you wound up with the same type plant at a higher level.

There were several problems with the overall plan, gooseberries are very 
difficult to graft and Josta has a great tendency to throw suckers from the base, 
these grow faster and larger than the graft and cutting them off produces even 
more shoots to grow. The grafts were placed at 12 and 18 inches above ground 
level and I also did a number of them at 6 inches to form short trees. Most of 
the grafts lasted about 8 to 10 years some longer and some much shorter. I 
still have a few that are about 15 years old. I have lost some enthusiasm for 
this venture and just prune and train the plants to a trellis now.

I also grafted to Pixwell and Glendale, two easy to propagate rootstocks, 
that are much more upright tall growing gooseberries with a little better 
results. They were easier to graft and the sucker problem was less than with Josta. 
Josta, at that time, was reputed to be immune to mildew, which was another plus 
for it. Josta was not immune and was in fact more susceptible than Pixwell or 
Glendale. I used several grafting techniques including standard whip, saddle 
grafts and reverse saddle grafts. The gooseberry scions were significantly 
smaller than the Josta and the thickness of the cambium were much different, good 
matchups required a lot of attention. Bench grafts were not very productive. 

I have lost track with Peter now, but he had a great planting and sent 
pictures, which I used in a presentation at a NAFEX meeting some years ago at Penn 
State. All in all, I do not think that it solved more problems than it created, 
and I no longer graft gooseberries except to propagate selections that need 
to be increased and maintained. It seemed like a great idea at the time, but in 
retrospect, was a lot of work that did not pan out as I had thought it may.

Ed Mashburn
Northumberland BerryWorks
707 Front Street
Northumberland, PA 17857
(570) 473-9910
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