Did you know that fruit trees cannot be reproduced “true” to the original cultivar from seed. Meaning, if you plant an apple seed from a Honey Crisp apple, the tree that grows will not produce Honey Crisp apples. I suppose it makes sense, many apple varieties are a mash-up of different ‘parents’ who in turn could have come from another mash-up. I am not an apple scientist though, but what I do know is the way to produce an “offspring” from the tree you want is by grafting.
Grafting is used for more than producing another tree of the same variety (what I previously called an offspring). There are several different grafting techniques and they can be used to repair injured trees and add more than one fruit variety to a tree. In backyard farming, grafting two to three fruit types (an apricot, peach, plum tree) on one tree is becoming more popular. The practice of grafting several varieties on to one tree saves valuable space that a backyard farmer can use to grow a diverse selection of fruits and vegetables. If your space is unlimited, grafting can be useful for repairing damaged trees or producing an “offspring” on fresh rootstock. If your family farm has an apple tree that is 100 years old, grafting onto new rootstock can preserve that heirloom variety for your grandchildren.
Grafting is not an overly complicated business, but it does require specific steps and technique. Missaukee Conservation District is offering a two part workshop: Fruit tree care & grafting demonstration. Steve Fouch is a retired MSU Extension educator who will be leading this workshop on Saturday, April 8 from 10 am to 2 pm. The workshop is broken into two sessions: 10am to 12pm will be the fruit care presentation–learn how to care and improve your apple, pear, apricot, or plum trees; 12:30 to 2pm will be the grafting demonstration. The first session will be held at Missaukee Conservation District Community Room (at the health department entrance), the second session may require travel off site. Workshop fee is $5 per Missaukee County household; $10 per person for out-of-county attendees. Call, visit our office, or visit our online store under the “Tree Sale” tab to RSVP by April 7.