Apples - DIY Interstem and Stool Bed

rob_343(6B/7A)March 13, 2014

Without experience, I am going to try to graft my own apple interstems and create a couple of stool beds. I realize that there are easier methods to do this, but I am an admitted 'tinkerer'. In lieu of asking a bunch of questions, I will post what I plan to do with hopes that some of the experts could tell me any errors in my ways.

I like the idea of a very small tree with drought tolerant roots with no need for staking. I narrowed it down to Malling and Bud-- Geneva was left off for patent reasons. I ended up going with Bud 9/Bud 118.

In the coming weeks, I have 3 Bud 118's and 2 Bud 9's coming. Also a Golden Russet scion. All of the below will be in grow bags while I reclaim portions of my yard from bamboo and poor landscaping. Here is what I was going to try:

Plant 2 B118's to be actual roots of a future tree.
Plant 1 B118 as a stool bed.
Plant 1 B9 as a stool bed. 1 B9 left over. Hopefully, removing 12" off the top of the B9 will not kill it.
When leaves start to push, whip graft 12" or so of the B9s onto the B118s.
If the Golden Russet scion is close in size, I may try to graft it onto one of the B118/B9s. It is probably a long shot, but I read about someone doing both grafts at the same time with some success.

Ok, I lied. Here are some questions...

For my extra B118/B9, what is the best way to get my selected apple on top? I don't know if the people who sell scion wood would/could send buds in late summer. Should I just wait until spring '15 and do a whip graft?

If I can get the stool beds producing, what would you recommend for making them into interstem trees later? I saw a person on youtube who would bud graft the top variety onto a shoot from the stool bed while it was still attached (in it's first year). So, in my case, I could try this then whip graft the B9/WhateverApple scion onto the B118 (also in it's first year). I'm not sure if this is a really bad idea or not.

As I understand it, most interstem trees are done with bud grafting over a two year period. I was trying to see if I can do it more quickly. I expect total failure. Anything north of that is gravy.

Thank you for any help.

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I'm interested in watching this thread...I've got an old tree I'm grafting onto...but it has a few little growths that I'm trying to nuture into becoming a stool bed nearby the main trunk...I'm trying to tinker as well! Anyways...would love to see some photos once you start experimenting!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 12:47PM
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I received my rootstocks yesterday and planted them in grow bags. I can tell that they are from the nursery's stool bed this year. They are basically 30" long twigs with a few hair-like roots.

I may have to give them 2 years of growth before trying to harvest any new rootstocks off of them.

Barring the lack of root mass, the caliper and length of the B9s seem long enough for me to try the interstem. I read that the rootstock should be actively growing, but the scion should dormant. So, I was going to try the following:

* Golden Russet scion received yesterday is already in the refrigerator.
* B9 stool bed is still dormant and seems like I can take an 8" scion off the top and keep it alive. I was going to put this in the fridge as well.
* After tonight, the low temperatures are supposed to only hit the 40's and hopefully the B118s will break dormancy soon.
* When the B118s break, graft the dormant B9 onto B118.
* When/if the B9 graft takes (or a 7-10 days after), graft 3-4 buds of the golden russet on.

I am hoping that this hedges my bet a little. That is, maybe the B9 has a better chance of taking because it is done the 'right' way. If the GR doesn't take, at least the first part of the interstem would be complete.

That said, I am extremely worried about the lack of roots on the rootstock. The overall size of my grafted tree will be the same as the current untouched B118. But, the last time it was active it was still connected to the mother tree. I think I will only do this with one and let the other B118 grow for a year before trying the double graft.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 2:30PM
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Don't know if this even fits into your discussion, but I have frequently used OHxF513 as an interstem between seedling callery pear and selected fruiting pear varieties.
I just W&T a piece of the fruiting variety onto an 8-10 inch piece of (dormant-collected)513, then graft the interstem/fruiting variety directly onto the callery understock .
No waiting, and they grow like crazy.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 3:48PM
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Thanks, Lucky. I think I have read some of your posts on interstems. I have searched high and low on the timing and if it can be done on a yearling rootstock. I did put the golden russet and B9 scion in the fridge to keep them dormant. The B118 is outside now. The last of the snow is melting, so hopefully it will start growing soon. I will try both grafts at once.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 11:27AM
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