Picture Snob

April 13, 2010

Grafting the Pearmaine apple

I have an old homestead and one of the rules for homesteading was to plant five apple trees. These trees still survive over 100 years later! One tree on my place is especially worth saving. It ripens in late October and November and keeps really well and although it looks like a golden delicious, it is much sweeter, crisper and more flavorful. The best guess among those who have the tree still living is that it is a White Winter Pearmaine.


This is a description from 1881:

"Basin uneven. Skin pale yellow, with slight blush or warm cheek, thickly sprinkled with minute brown dots. Flesh yellowish, tender, crisp, juice very pleasant subacid. Very good."

My poor tree has fallen over and started to grow up from a lying down position. You have to be impressed with the will to live. Since I want to save the variety and I asked a local expert gardener to help me by grafting the pearmaine on to other root stock. I don't trust myself with grafting. He came on a wet rainy day so I stood with an umbrella while he did the work. Everyone has their own way of grafting that works for them. He cut several finger size year old growth from the pearmaine. Instead of using the notch method, he just cut a slanted pruning type cut.


Then he cut the graft so that the slant and the cambian layers matched and wrapped it in red electrical tape.


To finish, he tied a rubber band around the graft to hold it steady.

Then he trimmed any sprouts from lower on the rootstock. This is certainly not the handbook traditional method of grafting, but experienced gardeners do what they have had success with. We tried it on two different root stocks. He says his method has worked 3/4 of the time and so I"m hopeful that I will get another tree of this White Winter Pearmaine, my favorite apple.

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Posted by Marilyn Renaker at April 13, 2010 8:20 AM
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