Preservation of Old Varieties
Dormant Season Grafting
To be successful at dormant season grafting you will need high quality scion wood taken during the dormant season and stored at 28 to 30 degrees until grafting in April. High quality scions are often difficult to obtain from older trees which are often not well cared for and have little annual growth from which to harvest scions of one-year wood. Additionally, new growth can be damaged by cold winter weather, further limiting the amount of high quality scions of last year's growth. If you are using the usual whip and tongue grafting method you usually only get a couple of grafts per 6 inches of scion material. Dormant season chip budding will allow you to get 4 or 5 grafts from a 6 inch section of scion material, but you still have the storage problem to cope with.
Growing Season Budding
An alternative to dormant season grafting is to use budding during the growing season. August is the best time of year to bud because the current seasons growth has had a chance to mature to make high quality buds. There are several advantages to chip budding or T-budding in preservation work:
- The gathering of scion wood is done in 70 degree weather vs. 20 degree weather for dormant season scion gathering.
- When you bud in August, even old, neglected trees will have a few good buds on their new growth to use for budding.
- A short section of scion just 6 inches long can easily yield several adequate buds (whereas the same section would only yield a couple of scions for dormant season whip and tongue grafting).
- If you can carry a potted rootstock on which to bud with you right to the tree, you have no transport or or storage time from the point when the bud is taken from the tree to being inserted onto the rootstock.
- The new bud can be attached in less than a minute and is completely covered with polyfilm (chip budding) or a budding rubber (T-budding).
- There is no "after care" to worry about like you have with dormant season grafts that must be maintained at a particular temperature while callousing before being set out in a nursery row.
- If you take a vase with water you can easily take scions in the morning and mate them with the rootstock in the afternoon (be sure to snip the leaves off of each bud before putting them in the vase of water). This allows you to transport them back to the rootstock in a nursery row in your garden for attaching the buds.
Rootstock can be purchased from suppliers at the same time as you are usually order fruit trees. In our climate you would usually plan on having them arrive so that you can plant them during the first couple of weeks of April. They can be planted about a foot from each other in a row in your garden when they will get watered and weeded or they can be planted in plastic pots (three gallon size is best for root development) so they can be taken with you when you are out gathering scions the first couple of weeks of August.
Sources for rootstock for northern climates include Raintree Nursery (http://raintreenursery.com), Cummins Nursery (http://cumminsnursery.com), Fedco (https://www.fedcoseeds.com/trees/?cat=Rootstock Generally you will want dwarfing rootstock because they will come into production more quickly. Cold-hardiness is another desirable characteristic. The New Fruit Grower has a general description of the various rootstock options at: http://www.thenewfruitgrower.com/new_page_3.htm.
Below are some articles on chip budding and T-budding:
Read pages 519-521 in Chapter 13 of Hartmann and Kester's Plant Propagation. This section covers the chip budding technique. Be sure to read the captions of the diagrams and pictures, especially look closely at picture (i) down at the bottom of page 520. Here is the link to Chapter 13:
Also read "Chip Budding" from Cornell University Extension (outstanding photographs of both summer and dormant season chip budding)
I also like "Chip Budding: An Old Grafting Technique for Woody Plants With Rediscovered Advantages for Nebraska" (from U. of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension). On page 3 it has the diagram of chip budding that we use in the class. "Reproducing Fruit Trees by Graftage: Budding and Grafting" has a slightly different chip budding diagram (also on page 3). Google for the title of these.
Preservation of Old Fruit Varieties
Below is a link to the 1912 edition of the Illustrative and Descriptive Catalogue for Vineland Nureries Company of Clarkston, Washington. It is very useful for identifying old fruit verities. You can use the description and also ripening information given on some of the varieties.
One of the Inland Northwest preservation initiatives is the Lost Apple Project of the Whitman Historical Society. Check out the the pictures of the people, places, sales flyers, and newspaper ads related to fruit raising in Whitman county. Here is the link to the Lost Apple Project: