Layering Apple Trees

smithjwApril 25, 2013

Why are apple trees propagated by grafting scions onto rootstock, when the rootstock itself is propagated by layering? Isn't it adding a step to do the grafting? Why not just layer the tree the scions are taken from and plant whole seedlings? Is it really worth it to get the properties the rootstock provides? I'm sure there's a reason it's done this way; just wondering if someone knew why. Thanks!

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

and if no one here has the answer... try the fruit forum


    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 10:33AM
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Some want the dwarfing characteristics or disease resistance given by a different rootstock. Others need roots that are hardy enough to handle extreme cold winters. If you want a regular tree, in a relatively mild climate, air layering would work I think. Never tried it myself though....

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 1:36PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

They type of rootstock is very, very important. It determines or influences:

1. ultimate size of your tree
2. growth rate
3. amount and complexity of maintenance
4. ease of harvest
5. productivity
6. preciosity
7. senescence
8. hardiness
9. adaptation to different soils and soil conditions

  1. drought tolerance
  2. how well the tree will be anchored
  3. whether the tree will need permanent or temporary support (not just how well it's anchored)
  4. fruit size
  5. resistance to certain diseases
  6. resistance to certain pests
  7. rootstock and scion graft compatibility
  8. tendency to sucker
  9. and I'm sure I'm leaving off something.

Also, grafting is faster and more reliable. Some apple cultivars are impossible or very difficult to layer (some are much easier).

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 11:12PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Yep, it's all about what the rootstock can contribute. By the way, interstock selection can be just as important as the rootstock.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 1:13PM
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