Apple tree grafting question

dave_63January 8, 2014

Hi all,
I joined up to the forum today so I thought I'd take the opportunity to sort out a problem I'm having with grafting:

I have an unknown apple variety that's been in for about 8 years now. The label identified it as a Peasgood Nonsuch on dwarf rootstock when it was planted but it clearly isn't and the apples aren't particularly good so I decided to try grafting.

I have a Cox's Orange Pippin not doing that well, and I bought a new 2 year old Freyburg recently which needed pruning back when it was planted, so I cut some scion wood off both for grafting onto the unknown apple tree.

As I'm new to grafting I did not want to cut the entire tree down and try the graft from down near the ground so I cut four of the branches off, each about 18" from the trunk. I grafted the Cox's onto 2 of them and the Freyburg onto the other 2 limbs. All grafts have taken well and the Freyburg graft has even fruited.

Although the apples are not near maturity I have noticed that they are not the same as on my 2 year old Freyburg maiden. They are the same shape and colour as the apples that I've grafted the scion wood on to (the ones I don't like).

Is this because I have not taken the graft back to the original rootstock? I was hoping to create a tree with half Cox's and half Freyburg but it looks like I've created something else. I was under the impression that I would get the same variety of apples as I got on the original scion wood source. After reading many articles on grafting I've not seen this discussed at all.

Thanks for your advice guys!

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alan haigh

The apple you grafted to will not have that much influence on the quality of the fruit from the grafted wood except possibly on its vigor in the same manner an interstem would- Interstems are when two different rootstocks are used where the top one is grafted on above the ground and then the scion apple is grafted to that.

The most common interstem combination is 111 with 9 as an interstem, to create a tree with a little less vigor than 7 but a nice root system that anchors well and can find water during drought.

Something may be going on with your tree but I don't think it's what you think it is.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 6:09PM
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There is definitely something odd happening here and I'll post some photos of the different fruits as soon as I can figure out how to upload them.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 10:14PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

You can upload the pictures directly to GardenWeb (the tool is provided just under the words "Post a Follow-Up" just above where you are typing in the text of the post). BUT, there is also a better way (sometimes GardenWeb does weird things to photos AND you can only do one per post if you use their tool).

IMO, the best way is to upload your photo(s) onto an image hosting site such as Photobucket, Flickr, etc. That should be pretty straight forward, and the individual sites will give instructions on how to get your photos uploaded to their site when you sign up.

Once your picture has been uploaded, find the image's location address (URL) by right clicking on the image and copying the image location. Some sites may even provide the appropriate HTML code in a text box below the photo for your convenience. It will be the one that begins with a href=...

Let's say, as an example, that the address of the picture you want to post is

To embed the picture into a post, use the command:
img src="">;

If your picture is too large to fit nicely into the text page, you can add a width attribute. This is a good idea to keep posts from being hard to read.

The command with the width attribute would look something like:
img src=""; width=600>

Note that I had to use special characters to get the commands above to show up here without turning into pictures, but you can use them as shown (with the correct image web address, of course).

    Bookmark   January 8, 2014 at 11:20PM
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Hi all,
Here are the photos of the tree in question... I'll post them in 4 separate messages due to uploading limits here. As you can see there's quite a different fruit produced on the graft. Thanks again for any advice.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 12:22AM
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The tree I cut back to graft on to.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 12:24AM
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The grafted fruit, which is larger than the Freyburg apple in photo 1.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 12:26AM
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A view of the grafts.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 12:27AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

When you graft a scion onto a rootstock or top-work a tree, like you have done, the fruit produced by the scion will be fruit of the scion cultivar (period). The rootstock, or the tree onto which you have grafted, may have some effects on the fruit (e.g. amount of and size of fruit), but not on the type of fruit. I am not specifically familiar with the two cultivars you are working with, so can't tell you how an unripe Freyburg should look. If Harvestman comes back, he can probably answer that MUCH better than me. If not, you may want to post on the Fruit and Orchards Forum.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 1:00PM
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Hi Brandon
The rootstock for the Freyburg is MM106 and all I can tell you about the other tree is it was a dwarf Peasgood Nonsuch.

The first photo posted here is the unripe Freyburg and the 3rd and 4th photos are of the unripe grafted Freyburg. I would have thought they should at least look similar, being from the same tree, but they are not. I guess time will tell.

I did some reading on Freyburg apples yesterday and every description I could find described them as yellow-green, which clearly they are not... so I'm now questioning this too, but that's another subject.

Perhaps I should not have let the scion wood fruit immediately after grafting, and given it 12 months before it fruited onto new growth instead. Maybe that's the answer?

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 8:56PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

According to multiple internet sites, Freyburg has a green skin that turns golden yellow with a small amount of russet when ripe. That doesn't match your first picture at all. Actually, the 3rd and 4th pictures are closer matches (at least for color) to Freyburg than is your first picture. I would bet you a box of donuts that the first picture is not of Freyburg apples at all. Somehow, I think you have your apples mixed up.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2014 at 11:31PM
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Hi Brandon
All the photos posted are of my trees, not from the net. This now raises 2 issues: have I actually been sold a Freyburg, and why is the grafted fruit so different from the Freyburg where the scion wood was taken from. Photos 1 and 3/4 are from the same tree! (photos 3/4 are the grafts).

Here's the label of the tree I bought from a supposedly reputable source:

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 1:58AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Mismarked nursery stock is more common than you might imagine. A lot of times, they just get plants mixed up, but sometimes grafts fail and rootstocks take over. Either way, it doesn't appear to me, based on internet source, that your red apples are Freyburgs.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 3:06PM
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Hi Brandon, yes you're right about the Freyburg which I'll have to replace this year. Annoying but hopefully my other 5 (cider) apple trees I bought are going to produce the correct fruit.

I'll assume that the parent tree has taken over the grafts and produced fruit similar to what I was trying to replace (once again, annoying). Interesting to note that both grafts pictured in photo 4 have the same fruit and so both appear to have "failed".

Perhaps it is because the scion wood was taken from the "Freyburg" tree before it had fruited for the first time?

Possibly if my original Freyburg tree was taken over by the rootstock then maybe it is not a suitable source for taking scion wood from?

It would be interesting to actually know the reason why this has happened and I'm hopeful that the other grafts of the Cox's will be successful.


    Bookmark   January 10, 2014 at 8:58PM
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