WW-00532 Reviewed 2009
Leonard B. Hertz Former Extension Horticulturist
A budded apple shoot completely wrapped with rubber budding strips, top right. Nurseries often use this method to produce fruit trees. At bottom left, asphalt grafting compound is applied to a completed whip graft to prevent wood tissues from drying out. This method is used mainly on young apple and pear trees when branches are small. A cleft graft, bottom right, covered with asphalt grafting compound is used for topworking established apples and pear trees.
Table of Contents
The seed from a Haralson apple will produce an apple tree, but it will not produce a Haralson apple tree. Likewise, the seed from a Honeygold apple will not produce a Honeygold apple tree. In other words, fruit trees cannot be reproduced "true" to the original cultivar from seed. They can only be reproduced by grafting. Grafting describes any of a number of techniques in which a section of a stem with leaf buds is inserted into the stock of a tree. Grafting is useful however, for more than reproduction of an original cultivar. It is also used to repair injured fruit trees or for topworking an established tree to one or more different cultivars.
By topworking you can do the following:
- An undesirable cultivar can be changed by grafting a preferred cultivar to the branches.
- Cultivars that lack hardiness or have poor-crotches (narrow angled) can be made more durable by grafting them on hardy, strong-crotched cultivars such as Hibernal, Virginia, or Columbia Crab.
- Pollinator cultivars can be grown much sooner by topworking than by planting young trees.
- New cultivars for trial can be brought into bearing in 2 or 3 years if topworked on stock of bearing age.
- Interesting novelties can be developed by grafting several cultivars on one tree.
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