Fruit growing problems
A pruning assignment for a customer revealed just how often certain undesired episodes can occur. People may run into trouble with their fruit trees because they don’t produce the fruit that they had hoped for. Take for example apples. Certain varieties are recommended, because they eat well or fruit well or keep well. These trees are cared for and looked after well and yet the flavour and the look of the fruit are not at all what was expected. So what has happened?
In most cases this is the result of bad labelling, before the trees were planted. Labels drop off or are lost during trip from where the trees were grown to where they were sold. This can be very serious. For example, the loss of a fruit tree label could mean that a tree that grows far too strongly is planted in a garden that doesn’t have enough room. Or the tree may simply be a completely different variety with respect to what was originally ordered.
If the tree is on a rootstock not suitable for small spaces, the best solution is to lift the tree when young, during the winter months. That is the right time for moving trees. It can be replanted at a location where enough space is available. On many occasions I have been asked to prune trees that have become giants and are totally out of control.
Grafting over, a possible solution
If the tree is on the right rootstock but produces fruit different to requirements, then a change of variety can be achieved by using the method of grafting over. This means the tree is pruned back hard, and a cutting of the right thickness, called a graft, of the desired variety, is inserted at the right time just below the bark of the tree. This is a specialist operation and is can be successfully performed by people who have the these skills and experience. There are several different methods of grafting. The one shown in the photo below was carried out during the second half of March this year.