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Old 18th October 2009, 08:00 AM   #1
Big
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How do I grow from a very old fruit tree?

A friend of mine while hunting came across a very old orchard deep in the bush , some of the trees are pretty knarley but the fruit tasted good, there were Apple, pear & plum trees. How would I take cuttings or seed from these successfully so that I could grow them on my lifestyle block? He thought they could be up to 80 yrs old, so I picking they are not Hybrids. Any help would be great?
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Old 18th October 2009, 08:12 AM   #2
Kate
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Re: How do I grow from a very old fruit tree?

Hi Big and welcome to lsb

There was a recent thread on preserving an old citrus tree which may help.

Cheers
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Old 18th October 2009, 08:37 AM   #3
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Re: How do I grow from a very old fruit tree?

Deciduous pip and stone fruit are much more easily grafted than citrus so the lemon tree advice doesn't apply here.

I've done such grafting as part of a uni course but am far from an expert in it. It would be easy to take cuttings for grafting, at the appropriate time of the year, but growing from seed would be pretty hit and miss, and slow as there would be a 5+ year delay before you got results.
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Old 18th October 2009, 11:16 AM   #4
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Re: How do I grow from a very old fruit tree?

Get some stones off the plum tree late this summer and some cuttings in mid winter of all the trees. There are nurseries willing to graft them for you onto suitable rootstock.

Plums only need 3 to 4 years until they start to fruit so well worth a try growing them from seed. Apples take longer but we've got a number of good apple trees grown from seed from old trees.
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Old 18th October 2009, 12:02 PM   #5
Prim
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Re: How do I grow from a very old fruit tree?

Because they're so old, chances are good that they're not grafted to start with, so if you wanted to just do it (!), you could probably take cuttings and grow them on.

If you specifically wanted them grafted on to rootstock, again, it's not difficult to do (at the appropriate time of year; too late for grafting really as you need your rootstock just about ready to bud up and you also need dormant scion wood. You will be able to bud onto rootstock around Dec/Jan/Feb when the bark (argh! Is that right?) slips) and although I didn't realise it, if there are nurseries willing to bud them for you that would be very tempting as it can be difficult to get rootstock.

If you want them grafted onto rootstock you'll need to consider what rootstock you want - vigorous (ie, a big tree) or dawf (ie, smallest possible tree).

I HTH.

ETA : Oh, I meant to ask, what part of the country are you in? I have a half dozen or so apple rootstock growing which I could bud into for you if you wanted me too. I won't guarantee success but can try.
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Old 18th October 2009, 12:04 PM   #6
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Re: How do I grow from a very old fruit tree?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simkin View Post
Get some stones off the plum tree late this summer and some cuttings in mid winter of all the trees. There are nurseries willing to graft them for you onto suitable rootstock.

Plums only need 3 to 4 years until they start to fruit so well worth a try growing them from seed. Apples take longer but we've got a number of good apple trees grown from seed from old trees.
I would expect a grafted tree to produce fruit at 3-4 years of age but keep in mind that the scion is adult material so will reach reproductive (fruiting) potential earlier than a seedling tree, and a grafted tree has the probable advantage of a rootstock with proven vigour and disease resistance.
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Old 19th October 2009, 11:33 AM   #7
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Re: How do I grow from a very old fruit tree?

WOW! I've never grafted anything but they sound wonderful! Maybe one of the heritage garden places would be interested in growing some cuttings or seeds, they might be able to tell what sort it is once it's taken and producing fruit... ok a few years down the track but these plants, in my opinion, are well worth saving.

This is the sort of thing really interests me a sort of a mystery, in who planted them and where is or was their abode, what did they do? farm? some other type of work way out in the bush? Was there actually some sort of forgotten settlement nearby that was abandoned when the gold ran out or something like that. Coooool!!!! Love books about these things too.

I'd be getting as many cuttings and seeds as I could and plant up to pass on. (obviously not stripping the tree bare of all twigs and branches, that would be daft). Kind of like saving an endangered species. Perpetuate the good old stock that is fast growing rare.
Yay! Go You!

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Old 19th October 2009, 12:22 PM   #8
Big
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Re: How do I grow from a very old fruit tree?

Thank You very much for all the replies , it is all new to me so I want to do it right. I am in Woodville , lower central north island so we are of a cooler climate, God knows what my soil is , how do I get that tested?? I know it is a heavy type clay . I am trying to only use Heritage/Heirloom Varieties of Fruit & Berries as well as in our Vegetable garden. I have even got Brown Leghorn Chooks to keep the Heritage movement going.
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Old 19th October 2009, 12:34 PM   #9
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Re: How do I grow from a very old fruit tree?

Here's a link to an extremely useful page:
http://www.nzgardener.co.nz/page.asp?id=33

On the page there's an excellent pdf file on how to graft a fruit tree. (Whic is also in the Homegrown magazine - fruit tree edition)

http://www.smartmailpro.co.nz/Smartm...rees_Aug08.pdf
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Old 19th October 2009, 09:12 PM   #10
Simkin
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Re: How do I grow from a very old fruit tree?

Organix - we have half an orchard full of fruit trees grown from seed and while our soil is good our trees have to compete with high grass (no Roundup to keep them weed free) and only get a few litres of water each per week during summer.

Our approximate time from planting the seed to first fruit:

peach 3 years
plum 4 years
prune 4 years
apple 10 years
pear 12 years
quince 8 years
persimmon > 18 years (hasn't fruited yet, no flowers either)

Cherries have fruited, too, after maybe 6 to 8 years, but only the birds liked the fruit from the cherries grown from seed.
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Old 20th October 2009, 08:36 AM   #11
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Re: How do I grow from a very old fruit tree?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simkin View Post
Organix - we have half an orchard full of fruit trees grown from seed and while our soil is good our trees have to compete with high grass (no Roundup to keep them weed free) and only get a few litres of water each per week during summer.

Our approximate time from planting the seed to first fruit:

peach 3 years
plum 4 years
prune 4 years
apple 10 years
pear 12 years
quince 8 years
persimmon > 18 years (hasn't fruited yet, no flowers either)

Cherries have fruited, too, after maybe 6 to 8 years, but only the birds liked the fruit from the cherries grown from seed.
As your experience indicates, stone fruit are generally more precocious (early fruiting) than pipfruit. This situation is modified by way of rootstocks that increase vigour (and other growth and disease susceptability characteristics) particularly in regard to pipfruit.

Precociousness can also be modified (e.g. increased) by use of hormone application, and by stressors such as intense competition and/or water deprivation which may be contributing factors in your situation.
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Old 21st October 2009, 07:03 AM   #12
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Re: How do I grow from a very old fruit tree?

Welcome to LSB 'Big'.
That is really neat that you and your friend have found these trees and thought something of them to take it a step further. You could try contacting your nearest NZ Tree Crops person and they would be able to give you hands-on instruction of how to graft/bud/take cuttings successfully. Timing is usually everything and it maybe too late, but I am always of the school of thought, 'nothing ventured, nothing gained' and so if your friend was going out there again very soon he/she could grab a few pieces of 'new' (e.g. last seasons growth - it usually is right on the end of the branch and is a healthy fresh colour.... mmm that didn't explain it very well) and then you could try grafting small pieces of that new growth ( a piece with 3 buds on is sufficient and if those buds have already burst into leaf just cut the leaves in half horizontally to help minimise shock). (Sometimes following step by step from a book is rather daunting and ambiguous - if I was closer I would be there like a shot!)Always remember to graft stonefruits onto stonefruits and pips onto pips - I always try to remain as close to possible to the same e.g. apples onto apples. And always remember to label - I use the Ear tag pen and that doesn't seem to fade as quickly as the permanent markers that are in general use. Buy the green stretchy florist tape from the florist for your grafting tape - it is so user friendly and goes such a long way, (Store the unused portion of the roll out of the sunlight ready for next year though.) You do not need to remove it after the graft has 'taken' as the sunlight normally breaks it down.
Regarding taking the pips from the pears and apples and sowing them..... yes it is a long time to wait but there are pluses and minuses. For one, there is no guarantee that you are going to get the same as the parent (which sometimes then becomes like a lottery and you could strike it lucky and produce one like 'Granny Smith' who was another 'chance' seedling. )Secondly, the vigour of the tree will most probably have to be controlled in some way (espaliering or pruning) otherwise you will always have to be up the ladder collecting fruit if the birds have not beaten you. (That is why most apples are grafted onto rootstocks that suit your soil type and to limit the vigour or growth. - some people are also of the thought that this can also limit the nutrition of the apple produced too... so there is heaps to trial and think about).
Regarding the stone fruit...... you can safely plant (straight away after eating - and don't forget to label who-what-wherefrom) peaches and nectarines - you will have fruit on your tree exactly three years after planting that stone and the chance of them being like their parent is over the 90% rate (which of course gives you 10% chance at another lottery of wondering what you are going to get).
With Plums though the percentage that stay true to parent drops right away - perhaps the reverse of the peaches and nectarines ..... but once again you can do the lottery thing and perhaps get a winner like 'Luisa' - so it is always worth the gamble!.
And if all else fails...... fruit tree wood is the very best firewood!

Last edited by bethy; 21st October 2009 at 07:06 AM..
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Old 22nd October 2009, 05:47 AM   #13
Big
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Re: How do I grow from a very old fruit tree?

Thanks Bethy, that is very informative, & you did very well in your explanation, must have taken you ages to type that, mind you I am a one finger typer.
I will keep you informed of my progress
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