Replanting and Grafting Apple Trees

Grafted apple trees beginning to push.

Grafted apple trees beginning to push.

It was a misnomer on my part and it took me some years down the road of life to realize differently, but fruit trees do not have an infinite life span.  Disease, rodents, the ravages of nature, all take a tremendous toll on the trees in the orchard.  We plant trees every year.  Some years more trees are planted than others.  Tree planting is an example of  stewardship and a link of the present to the future.  There is no better way to touch the future than to plant a tree today.

The best time to plant trees in our climate zone is early Spring. We aim for early April.   Before planting a good plan is mandatory and our planning encompasses several factors.   Unless we have specific variety replacements for trees already planted, we try to plant in “blocks.”   Much of the success in planting depends on soil  conditions.  If your soil is fertile and well drained, it can support almost any kind of fruit planting.  Our soil is mainly heavy clay and this alone creates issues in the development of the trees.  We dig holes large and deep enough to accommodate the spreading feeder roots of the tree. Cramping the roots will hinder growth and the tree will not be anchored too well.  Set the tree into the hole and fill it with topsoil, lightly tamping it.   Watering is necessary if dry periods or drought exist, but there is nothing more beneficial to newly planted trees than a good soaking rain.
This season we also tried our hand at grafting some trees.  We had several “heirloom” apple trees that are showing the signs of age and we wanted to try to reproduce these varieties.  One variety is a Jonathon that has been in the planting of the original orchard and has the best flavor of any Jonathon that I have ever tasted.  We are happy to report that we are experiencing a 65% success rate.  Not too bad for beginners.  As this is new for us we are experiencing the normal learning curve, but none the less we will continue to experiment.

About Patty Doll

Owner, operator, picker, seller, customer service, and grass mower for Doll's Orchard, LLC.
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