Starting an Apple Orchard can be very expensive, but there is a way to cut the cost drastically. How, by grafting scions or buds to rootstock and growing your own trees. Now you may think grafting is too difficult to learn, but you’re wrong, Apples are the easiest fruit trees to graft and it’s more difficult to do a bad graft than a good graft.
Here I will lay out the steps I take for growing my own trees from Rootstock. Grafting using scions, and/or buds is easy and the results are seen within a few weeks. I recommend using Scions as this is easier and quicker than bud grafting.
Step 1 – Choosing & Ordering Rootstock
The first step is to determine which type of rootstock you want for your trees. There are several different types which take into consideration; climate, tree size (dwarf to standard), soil type, and disease resistance. To make things easy for you many Orchard websites list their rootstock and give clear characteristics of each. So choosing your rootstock has been made easy for you, here is one example Raintree Nursery
Step 2 – Collecting Scions Or Using Buds
The next step is to find trees with the type of Apple you like and want in your Orchard. Note; When grafting, your Apple Tree will produce a perfect clone of the apple you took the scion or bud off. This is also how you produce different varieties of apples on the same tree.
Scions can be taken in November, December, or even March, just placed them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to start planting in the Spring. Store the Scions in a zip-loc bag with a small moist piece of paper towel, then place them in the fresh food drawer until your ready to plant. If you prefer Bud Grafting then this is done in Mid-Summer, between July 15th and Aug 15th, but you will need to have your rootstock already planted, thus why I prefer using Scions when Grafting. The best Graft for Rootstock is the Whip & Tongue Graft then the Cleft Graft, followed by the Bud Graft.
Step 3 – Preparing Your Rootstock Plot
When growing your own Apple Trees from rootstock you will need to prepare a small area to plant and protect them in. These trees will be in this protected plot for two to three years before planting in the yard or orchard. To protect them from the Deer put a 5ft fence up around the outer perimeter, then just inches away from the new trees place chicken-wire to keep the Rabbits out, and lastly right before winter place white tree trunk tubing around the base of your tree to protect them from the Mice. Tip- To help keep the soil most and rick add a layer of wood chips on the ground and spread some fertilizer.
Step 3 – When To Transplant
When should you transplant your Apple Trees in the yard or orchard, when they reach a height of three to four feet. This may only take two years in the protected plot for some of the trees, but diffidently after their third year in the plot you will want to transplant them.