propagate fruit trees from cuttings?? not grafts

kroach001October 15, 2011

Anyone have any experience with propagating fruit trees from softwood, semi-hardwood or hardwood cuttings? I'm trying to understand the need for grafting if the cutting will root, then why not just let it root and have a new tree? I want full sized trees so I don't need a dwarf rootstock or anything like that. If I made cuttings from a named variety tree and rooted them, assuming I could, they would be that same named variety tree, right? Would they start producing fruit within 2-3 years, or once it reaches 4 feet or so like grafted trees do? It wouldn't be a seedling, so wouldn't go through the whole juvenile stage, right? Anyone who can clear this up, I'd SURE appreciate it!!!

Thanks!!!

Kathy

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gonebananas_gw

Certainly some fruit-tree selections are propagated from cuttings (or airlayers), but these are mostly tropical or subtropical (e.g., loquat, lychee, some citrus) or as rootstock (e.g., some pears).

If you have longer-term access to the mother trees, airlayering may have a better chance of success than cuttings. Still, its fairly easy to try cuttings. A stronger rooting hormore concentration and some way to apply bottom heat are the major costs for the harder-to-root types (I am getting these for use on some harder-to-root grapes).

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 10:24AM
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alan haigh

Some apple trees such as northern spy generate root primordia on wood above ground and can be grown from cuttings, but then you will end up with a very vigorous tree. Most varieties of apples don't easily root out from above ground wood as the English apple root stocks (MM 111, emla 7, etc) all do. The problem with some of the Cornell rootstocks is that they don't easily root when stool cultured.

I have noticed a lot of varieties will root along the trunk where a branch has been cut and covered with plastic during the course of using tangle trap. This would suggest that you might be successful by taping a small bag of soil to a small branch still on a tree where some bark has been removed if you keep the soil moist.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 11:02AM
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marknmt

My neighbor moved here over forty years ago and brought cuttings of an apricot and a prune plum and, according to him, just stuck them in a hole in the ground and kept them watered. The trees both still bear. I like the fruit from them. I have no idea just when he cut the wood or how woody it was (this year's, second year, or older.)

The plum is a nice size, the 'cot quite a bit too big, to my way of thinking.

Mark

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 6:41PM
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melikeeatplants

It's very common for figs and pomegranates to be rooted from cuttings....if you're looking to try those...

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 6:46PM
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kroach001

I have 5 acres I want to plant an orchard on. I'm thinking apple trees (of course I have to choose one of the harder to root), but if anyone happens to know of a more profitable fruit tree for zone 6, I'm all ears. I need to make a living off these in 5 years even if its a meager living. :) Since I want to plant so many, that is the reason I want to propagate them myself.

So lots of good info here so far, but I do want to also clear up:
If I am successful with rooting (how ever done), these new little trees will be the same as the named variety, even if the named variety was created by grafting???
Will the new little trees skip the juvenile stage and produce within a few years?

THANK YOU!!!!!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 7:19PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

yes .. there is no way it can be anything else...

but i am no pro with rooting.. but you are not going to have fruit in 2 to 3 years ... and i would hazard a guess .. of 7 to 10 years ...

have you done any research into what chemical intervention for bugs and disease is needed for salable fruit production??? ... i am guessing 3 to 5 sprays over the whole season ... for prime fruit ... and the cost of that .. might not make a small orchard.. much of a money maker ...

ken

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 7:47PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

kroach just buy apple rootstocks, in bundles of 100 they are pretty cheap. Then you can graft on whatever apples you want. Forget rooting if you want to grow commercial fruit trees, the fruits you get a good price for are reliably propagated by grafting only.

Scott

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 8:41PM
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alan haigh

Marknut, that sounds unbelievable to me. Try sticking some wood in holes and see if they sprout roots. If you could start cots and plums that easily they'd usually be propigated that way- they aren't grown on dwarfing rootstocks much in commercial production so a start from a cutting would be a superior tree produced much more quickly and cheaply than by way of budding.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 9:02PM
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marknmt

I thought the same thing HMan, but related the tale as told to me . There is a certain amount of folklore in this area, and please note that this 'Nut did not claim any veracity for his assertion.

:-)M

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 9:10PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

I'm with HMan on this. For what I've read, rooting hardwood/softwood requires misting systems, optimal temps and certain rooting media (perlite?) and even then, its not perfect... Maybe the guy got lucky? (timing/rain).

I'd go with scott and buy bunches of cheap rootstock. Another option is buying a bunch of various apples and growing out your own seed and getting scion in another year and grafting, but God only knows what kind of growth/performance you will get (it could be a few years before fruit). Apple is very easy to start from seed.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 9:55PM
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lkz5ia

Fruit trees are going to take too long to bear enough. For income in your needed time frame, you'd have to try something like strawberries or canefruit.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 11:25PM
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alan haigh

Marknut, maybe by sticks he meant some very tiny whips he bought from Miller's.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 7:11AM
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marknmt

:-)

Maybe so. I had my doubts at the time, and found by my own experience that pear is hard to root in any event- couldn't do it, in fact.

As for what the original poster should do: forego the attempt at rooting apple cuttings and examine the possibility of intensive plantings as discussed in Frank's thread of last week.

I used to think it would be heaven to take over a little orchard somewhere and spend all my time tending the trees, but I don't think so now. Now I think it would be daunting, but then again, I'm reaching a stage in my life that doesn't include taking on the world and scaling impossible mountains and such!

:-)MarknMT

Here is a link that might be useful: High intensity pear

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 8:40AM
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luke_oh(zone 5 NE Ohio)

Scott, Where do you get your rootstock? Thanks, luke

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 9:09AM
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iammarcus(6)

In addition to figs and some citrus you can start mulberries from cuttings.
Dan

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 10:46PM
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alan haigh

Marcus, have you started mulberries from cutting? Figs anyone can do, I suspect citrus requires misting- how about mulberries. All the named varieties I've ever seen were grafted while figs are always on their own roots suggesting that we are talking about 2 different levels of difficulty.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2011 at 8:00AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I usually get my big batches of rootstock from Williamette Nurseries. Looks like .67 each for MM106 from them now. I have had them do 50 minimum instead of the 100 before, call and ask to see. There are several other good places but I can't remember the names now.

Scott

    Bookmark   October 18, 2011 at 8:29AM
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gonebananas_gw

Some mulberries will and some mulberries won't root readily from cuttings.

A old trick was whip-and-tongue grafting a short piece of an easy-to-root one at the bottom of a longer cutting of a hard-to-root one. They used cotton string to bind so it would rot away before girdling. Sometimes in transplanting after a season of growth they would cut away the bottom root zone after the scion/main-cutting had rooted itself.

One might even graft a short piece of root at the bottom of a cutting. I'm fairly sure I've seen that described too and called "root grafting." This possibly would work with a lot of species.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2011 at 11:57AM
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macmex

Great, interesting thread! For a number of years I lived in a high, cool rainforest, on the Eastern slope of the Sierra Madre Oriental, in Mexico. There, at 7500' altitude, we literally passed days and months in the clouds. I had friends who propagated peach and apples by simply sticking branches in the ground. One fellow I knew cut down a pear tree for firewood. He left the smaller branches laying on the ground for several months. They rooted wherever they touched the earth! Conditions can make quite a difference.

George
Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 10:45AM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

And the right variety?

>>If you could start cots and plums that easily they'd usually be propigated that way- they aren't grown on dwarfing rootstocks much in commercial production so a start from a cutting would be a superior tree produced much more quickly and cheaply than by way of budding.Not necessarily
I had a plum, twice now growing on it's own root from layering but on it's own it just doesn't want to grow, sometimes a vigorous root stock is needed.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 7:33PM
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madferret(UK 8b-9a)

I've propagated a pear rootstock by stooling, but I can claim no real talent at it as it other than scoring the stem and removing some bark it more or less did it on it's own and I'm yet to see wether it'll last till next growing season. Apples, and some Citrus seem almost impossible to me. Although it doesn't stop me trying.

Regards
Nick

    Bookmark   November 11, 2011 at 11:22AM
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iammarcus(6)

Harvestman, sorry to take so long answering. I tried cuttings from 3 different mulberries last year, they rooted but I didn't get back to them soon enough and they died. I had over 150 cuttings I was working on: fig, grape and mulberry. Currently trying Illinois Everbearing.
Dan

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 7:50PM
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applenut_gw

For the ultimate in geekiness for propagating from cuttings, the cutting edge (no pun intended) is tissue culture, growing plants out from meristem cuttings in sterile laboratory conditions. Because you're taking the cutting from the tip of the plant growth, any virus or disease has not had time to travel to that part of the plant yet, and you get a clean start.

It used to be the domain of laboratories only, requiring laminar flow hoods and autoclaves, meaning growers had to send out their mother plants for propagation. But guess the one industry that doesn't want to send out their mother plants? That's right, the pot industry! So industrious (and stoned) minds spurred on the development of plant preservatives that help make up for the non-laboratory conditions and now home tissue culture kits are widely available.

The plantlets are started in a gelatin-type medium with plant food,hormones, and sugars. Since this medium grows bacteria and fungus much better than it does plants, everything still has to be sterile with lots of alcohol and bunsen burners; a pressure cooker sterilizes your tools. A rubbermaid tub serves as your clean hood and baby food jars holds the medium. Since the sugar is feeding the plants, low light is needed as opposed to the high light needed for hydroponics.

It is a way to propagate clean plants quickly, especially on difficult to propagate plants like blueberry and orchids. WSU has been investigating tissue culture of the G series rootstocks since they do not root well in the layer bed. You'd still have to graft to appropriate rootstock, but it would be a way to cheaply clean up viruses in both. Kits run about $250.

Here is a link that might be useful: Home Tissue Culture Group

    Bookmark   November 12, 2011 at 9:36PM
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kansasapple(KS 5/6)

The Irish Seed Savers have an entire orchard dedicated to "self rooters" - its an interest read on their website - I'm attaching the link.

There were several early American apple varieties prized for their self rooting ability. Usually discovered by chance when a pile of prunings would root and produce identical fruit. When early settlers had to establish an orchard to meet requirements for their "claim" - the self-rooting ability made things easy and inexpensive. These trees would later be top-grafted to whatever the settler preferred.

Here is a link that might be useful: Irish Seed Savers Self Rooting Orchard

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 12:25PM
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iammarcus(6)

Thanks Kansas, good to know some apples can be propagated from cuttings.
Dan

    Bookmark   November 15, 2011 at 3:31PM
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