> In addition to the impatience factor I mentioned in my earlier post, the
> practice of grafting is a market advantage because it homogenizes the
> product (particularly for apples).
This is true. However, it's much more true with some fruits and varieties than
with others. Quite a few are genetically stable and are therefore ready to
grow from seed, much as an open pollinated standard variety is, in row crops.
Many strains of citrus, mangoes, some varieties of avocados, sapotes and
cherimoyas (my experience is mainly with subtropicals) have been consistently
grown from seed successfully. The exceptions will take more work, but that
involves nothing more than seed selection and a little patience. Remember that
all varieties originate from seed (except the unpredictable sport) and that
being variable means that the offspring can be better, worse or just different
(not all people share the same preferences, and not all varieties will be
adaptable to the same conditions, anyway).
> My acreage -- indeed the whole of
> Prince Edward Island -- is covered by scattered apple tree seedlings. In
> the late summer/early fall, I enjoy going on walks and sampling the
> apples. Every one is different (which would make it hard to establish a
> reliable market presence) and many (I'd say most) are not very palatable.
> Trying to establish a whole orchard of more-or-less similar apple trees
> from seed would be a big, very time-consuming job, I'd think.
You are looking at a marketing problem. I am looking at a defect that as far
as I'm concerned, makes all grafted fruit unfit to eat. I literally hate
eating it, and the only time I do so is by mistake. The difference is much more
than qualitative. It's a totally different experience and I want no part of
it. Of course the difference was noted in the late 60īs, so I've had ample
opportunity to build on it.
Why don't you take seed from the best seedlings and maintain a moist seed bed?
It would be interesting to note what percentage of those proved to be of
exceptional quality, and what percentage reverted to something less desirable
(that may never the less be genetically valuable).
> I seem to recall from my years in Riverside that citrus and stone fruits
> grew pretty well there, but we had to head to the hills to find successful
> apple orchards (Riverside didn't have adequate cold dormancy period for
> reliable apple production -- or, maybe it was the smog!!). Was the UCR
> research on apples or pears or on stone-fruit?
I was working with Bob Berg and it was avocados, most (but not all ) of which
were in Tustin. But I've have access to other groves with many seedlings (The
U. of Arizona, The USDA groves in Palm Desert, Brock Ranches between Yuma and
El Centro, and many private groves in CA and Mexico). I do remember some
excellent seedling pears.
> We did a minor amount
> of grafting of plums, apricots and peaches at home in Riverside, but I
> never noticed any difference in flavour between the fruit from the parent
> (seed-grown) tree and that from the grafted stock.
Many or most plums and apricots will also come true to seed. To perceive the
difference you should eat the seedlings before ingesting anything else that
day. And once you eat single a grafted fruit you'll lose your edge and find it
hard to regain it during the course of that day and sometimes even for the next
few days. I'd rather eat non organic seedlings (within reason - if not drowned
in insecticide), than grafted organic fruit. (Obviously organic seedlings
would be best). And good seedling strains that come true to seed will have to
be developed in many cases. They're individuals, of course. Grafting is an
abominable form of cloning (which is bad enough in itself), because there's
always a degree of conflict between rootstock and scion.
> On my land, it has been my observation that the wild apple seedlings are
> very vigourous and hardy. In addition, because they are mostly
> scattered around the edges of old fields and pastures, they tend to have
> very little insect damage compared to fruit or trees in an unattended (ie,
> untreated) orchard situation. A futher observation (though not a
> rigourously-quantified one) of mine is that the trees with the best-tasting
> fruit seem to be the ones that are more likely to be girdled by mice in the
> winter (I have lost some of my favourites this way).
Why do they do that? Do they prefer them? You should be able to keep the mice
off your trees (use tanglefoot or grease / vaseline over a plastic band, or a
shallow water filled concrete basin - it could be a bicycle tire cut in half
and dug in to ground level, etc.).
> My long-term plan
> is to graft scions from the good-tasting wild apples onto the vigourous,
> and more mouse-resistant rootstock of the sour wild apples (and prune
> appropriately over subsequent years).
You won't get the same results. It will be a caricature of the wild favorite.
> I don't expect the resulting fruit
> to be harmful to me or to the wildlife that share the fruit with me.
Harmful? How harmful is it to not live? To not be yourself? It's deprivation
and distortion. It's like disease.
> As I
> continue to get to know my apples better, I'll know which ones I like best
> for fresh eating, for pies, for applesauce. I don't care much whether my
> wild apples are "brand name" MacIntosh, Red Delicious, Jonathan or
> whatever -- but when I buy apples in the grocery store, I like to have a
> little more predictability in what I'm buying (my local stores frown on
> taste-testing as you go). I just don't see large-volume fruit supply
> working very well (at least for apples) without grafting.
Not for now it won't. People depend on labels, but that's in large part due to
having lost their own power of discrimination.
> I agree that your hypothesis about grafting _could_ be correct, but I
> remain to be convinced of significant -- if any -- adverse effects of
Neither you nor anybody else is going to be convinced as long as there's no
availability. There's no basis for comparison.
> Unfortunately, since it doesn't seem to be a research priority
> for anyone, we aren't likely to find out the truth of the matter anytime
That's correct. No one who doesn't bother to look into it, is going to know
whether he's missing anything or not.
Douglas M. Hinds
Centro para el Desarrollo Comunitario y Rural A.C. (CeDeCoR)
(Center for Community and Rural Development) - (non profit)
Cd. Guzman, Jalisco 49000 MEXICO
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