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  • To: North American Fruit Explorers <>
  • Subject: Re: [NAFEX] multiple apple cultivars on one tree?
  • Date: Thu, 17 Apr 2003 19:21:30 -0400

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


Reply-To: North American Fruit Explorers <>
Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2003 22:38:29 -0400
To: North American Fruit Explorers <>
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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