Advice needed rejuvenate, graft, apple tree

sciotoFebruary 22, 2013

Hello I think this is my first time posting on this forum on GW.

I have a old apple tree of unknown variety I would like to rejuvenate.,and change variety. I think it was planted in the 60s. I never had time to prune and take care of it. 2 years ago I tried to thin out the middle and get it back into some type of form. But not very successfully.

I work in construction, and with the economy the way it is, I seem to now have time to mess around the house and yard.

My thought is to bark graft several variates to this tree.
I have watched many youtbe video the last couple days and read a couple old books I have on the subject.
But I still have several questions.

1. Is it better to lop of a large diameter limb and and bark graft a couple of scions on to that horizontal limb, or saddle graft to a vertical water sprout on that limb?

2. If I opt to bark graft a couple scions on to this horizontal branch, does it mater were I should try and place them. Like if looking at the cut off portion of the limb, put one at 12 o clock and one at 6 o clock?

3. I need advise on how to prune and manage these new grafts. (any good links or videos?)My tree has very long horizontal branches, and in my head I see this turning in to kinda shaped like a chandelier. Is that what I want?

4.I know of a tree that had wonderful apples this fall. This tree is neglected and has not been sprayed or pruned in years. I doubt if the owner would let me climb up high into to the tree (its over the top of the house) But I think I could take some water sprouts lower. Would these be good to work with?

5. Does anyone have a suggestion on what some good apple variety's would be for central Ohio?
One that peaked my interest is Hawaii, but there are so many. not a fan of Macintosh's tho.
Also would anyone have scions to trade? I have a small trade list on my page, perhaps comfry (blocking 14)

Thanks In adavnce.

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i kind of like the shape the way it is, but of course its just a picture and things dont always look as nice in real life

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 5:59PM
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Jesus, you called that pruned? Waterspouts everywhere!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 7:17PM
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I never called it pruned.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 7:32PM
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If you are collecting scion wood you want to remove 1 year old wood (on the end of branches). Pencil diameter and length. With some buds. You can usually find a collar on a branch further down indicating the start of last year's growth. Cut it flat on the bottom, at a 45 angle half an inch above a bud (indicating the direction of the growth which you can also tell from the buds but in case you can't) and store it sealed in a plastic labeled ziplock bag with water soaked paper towel in the bag to keep things moist stored horizontal in your refrigerator veggie bin until ready to graft. Definitely do not take waterspouts or graft onto them.
Graft onto an apple tree on your property. You can either top graft or graft onto a branch. I would consider buying a cheap apple tree at home depot/lowes/costco, etc and top graft it. Hopefully the rootstock is appropriate for your area.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 7:34PM
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Thanks, I had heard conflicting opinions on waterspouts and grafting.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 7:41PM
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I like to do the bark graft. Overall, the shape looks pretty good to me too, talking about the structure, of course it is too crowded right now, but you'll take care of some of that when you saw off branches where you will do your grafts.

Where do you live? Here near Portland, OR we have an annual scion exchange where you pay $5 or so and then have access to hundreds of varieties of scions plus guest speakers, custom grafting, advice table, apple ID team, etc.

I hear Burnt Ridge nursery will sell scions of most o fthe varieties they sell. It may be getting late in the season to request specifics from someplace that doesn't collect an inventory of scion wood.

You will hear differing opinions about whether to take or graft water sprouts. I think they are excellent donor material. They will have their buds a little further apart and won't have any spurs or fruit buds. You want your new grafts to grow and fill in some of your canopy. The water sprout scions are ready to grow vegetatively.

Others also like to graft to them.

Also, for storing I would wring as much water as you can out of the paper towel. You don't want the wood in a slimy puddle, you just want to make sure that the inside of the bag is high humidity so the scions won't dry out.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 8:55PM
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Thanks for the advice.

I took alot of material out of it a couple year ago, but did not keep up with the waterspouts. Will get to pruning it very soon, has soon as i have a game plan with the top working.

I am putting an order together with Mapplevalley right now. these are the ones I have penciled in. Grimes golden, kids orange red, winter banana, Hawaii, sandow,. Will also try and get some off the tree I found last year.

I am in Columbus Ohio

I can kinda understand not using waterspout has sion wood, (because of hormones??) but do not understand why some advise to not graft on to it. Its no longer a spout once you lop it off and graft a fruit buding scion wood to it. Is it?

thanks again

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 9:24PM
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alan haigh

I've grafted over trees such as the one in the picture scores of times over the last 20 years- a couple hundred trees in all- many over a 100 years old. Because my client base wants their trees looking spiffy through the whole process I never employed cleft grafting for this purpose, which is the industry method of changing over varieties. This is the method I developed (not claiming to be the first, but I had to figure it out myself).

A water sprout is nothing but a juvenile tree (sapling) connected to mature wood. You want to use the most vegetative wood possible to reconstruct a tree like this so such wood is perfect.

I graft to a water sprout at the interior of an existing scaffold (as close to trunk as possible or even connected to the trunk just above the scaffold) using a water sprout of the same diameter and a simple splice graft. On a tree like this you may get over 5' of growth the first season if you graft just before or right at first growth. Graft must be positioned to get full sun.

The longer you can let the graft grow upright the faster it will grow but you need to tie it to a more horizontal position before it gets too stiff to bend- some varieties like N. Spy are extremely limber but others, such as Macintosh, are very brittle. I usually use string to pull down new scion branch using the old scaffold as an anchor. I cut away the old scaffold as new one takes over.

If new limb gets too stiff to bend come back to forum and ask how to make a hinge. It is tying it to a more horizontal position that encourages sexual maturity and less vigorous and more fruitful wood.

Use this method and you may get fruit as soon as second year. Tree can be completely rebuilt in 4 or 5. Also the tree never looks like a butchered mess as is the case with cleft grafts.

Since you have a lot of time, maybe you can make your own video of the process of this transformation using the method I recommend.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 6:00AM
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Very interesting harvestman. I never thought of this. I was concerned about the long horizontal scaffolds, and what would happen in a few years during a heavy crop.

I do not have time to properly respond this morning, but will later this afternoon, with a few pictures and Questions. Thanks

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 10:05AM
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Harvestman, Do you have pictures? Thanks

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 10:23AM
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alan haigh

I don't have pictures- as crazy as that is. I'm really pretty technically backwards and it took years of prodding from my son and wife to enter the internet age.

I have changed over entire orchards of wild seedlings for clients that I should have taken a photographic history of to record the process. Same thing with very huge old apple trees that I transformed from being ugly mismanaged things into graceful specimens.Thing is, there's always something more directly practical to do on work days.

However the process is pretty straight forward and as long as you use well lit water sprouts (as said, pencil thick, more or less, is good) and go for not more than 4 total scaffolds on an open center tree you will get there. On a central leader tree another construction method may be called for where upper tiers are formed from a single graft in center of tree.

You can start to harvest more fruit sooner by putting 2 or 3 grafts along the length of the old scaffold and just gradually eliminate pieces farther out on the branch as interior one takes over.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 1:55PM
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Its to bad you do not have pictures, I am sure lots of folks would like to see your method.

After reading your first reply I went out and had a look over the apple tree, and alas I do not have close suckers near the trunk, or on the trunk.

I believe what you just said, about "2 or 3 grafts along the length of the old scaffold" is what I will need to do this year. Along with removing quite a bit of wood.

There are mostly larger suckers I have to work with on the scaffolds.

This tree is going to take some work. to get back into shape. I hope you and this forum can guide me thru it.
I do not mind videoing the process. In fact I just taught myself to upload a video to you tube. Here is my first Youtube video. ( I hope this works)

Not that good of a video, but will give a better indication of what I have to work with.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 2:51PM
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this may work bettter

Here is a link that might be useful: apple tree

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 2:53PM
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alan haigh

Because there is so little sun getting into center of the tree you don't have much fresh annual wood to work with in the interior. You can put cleft grafts on uprights inside and cut enough wood to expose the grafts to light or just remove all the uprights to open up the tree and graft next season.

However there may already be some small enough wood to do some splice grafts as well- even if it is older wood. Smooth 1 year shoots are better to work with but you have to make do with what you have.

If you do a cleft make it as close to the scaffold as possible because it will be very hard to bend the wood you are grafting onto.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 8:24PM
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Do you think side grafting to a scaffold close to the trunk would work, or just prune the uprights this year and wait for new growth next year?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 10:44AM
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alan haigh

I don't know what side grafting is.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 8:01PM
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I was thinking of something like shown here. Not sure if it would work on a older and bigger limb.

If it works, it looks to be a good way to get a branch quickly, just were you need it.

Here is a link that might be useful: side grafting

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 10:01PM
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I've seen that side graft work on a remarkably large apple trunk, but have never tried it myself. (The grafter was parking a scion for later use, and didn't claim that was a good location for it, on the interior of the tree as it was.)

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 6:08PM
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I think I may try it on this tree. Take some scion wood off it, side graft it on a likely scaffold, and then graft new wood on next spring,, if it takes.

Still will add some new wood this spring.

Found this guys video interesting ,,,more so since he just added an update video of its progress. Not that good of quality video,,, but still he updated it.

Here is a link that might be useful: severe pruning

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 7:08PM
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