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Rootstocks - Unsung Heros

The art of grafting is nothing new. Evidence of the Chinese using grafting techniques has been discovered dating back to as early as 1560 BC. The joining of two pieces of living tissue, or grafting, is used with fruit and ornamental trees, berries, vegetables and many other plant varieties. The purpose of grafting is to combine qualities of the scion with that of the rootstock. More obvious is the selected qualities of the scion, like fruit taste or appearance. But what about the hardworking rootstock?

Rootstocks Can Control the Size of the Tree

The rootstock can help control the mature size of a tree. Standard size, semi-dwarf or dwarf are available in most fruit tree varieties. You should also control the size of the tree by pruning, but the rootstock will help as well. If you are limited in space or need to grow in a container, dwarf trees are great choices. If you have the room but don’t want to break your neck with tall ladders, a semi-dwarf is a good size tree. chart of rootstock qualities

Rootstocks Can Resist Biotic Stress

Not only can rootstocks determine the mature size of a tree, they can also add disease resistance. For example, the apple rootstock Geneva 935 is used for its superior resistance to fire blight and crown rot. You will still need to watch over and treat your trees for diseases and insects, but the rootstock can impart some resistance.

Rootstocks Can Resist Abiotic Stress

Abiotic stressors, such as heavy soils, wet or dry soils, and salinity can be resisted by certain rootstocks. Check out Dave Wilson Nursery for more information on various the rootstocks they use and the qualities of each. Next time you enjoy a piece of fruit from your grafted fruit or nut tree, give a little thanks to that hardworking rootstock!

Resources

Dave Wilson Nursery Rootstocks Principles of Grafting and Budding History of Grafting Stone Fruit Propagation by Grafting & Budding

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