Graft­ing work­shop fol­lows the scions

Alpine Observer - - News - By JAMIE KRONBORG

MAS­TER or­chardist Henry Hil­ton shared his keen com­mer­cial ex­pe­ri­ence with bud­ding hor­ti­cul­tur­al­ists, aborists and gar­den­ers at an ap­ple­graft­ing work­shop in Stan­ley on Satur­day.

The prin­ci­pal of Snow­line Fruits joined Beech­worth Food Co-op and Black Barn Farm, where Char­lie Show­ers and Jade Miles are re­work­ing and re­plant­ing an old or­chard on Stan­ley’s edge, to present a hands-on short course in fruit prop­a­ga­tion – part of a con­tin­u­ing se­ries of work­shops to fos­ter lo­cal food network de­vel­op­ment.

Mr Show­ers and Mr Hil­ton talked to the 15 par­tic­i­pants from Myrtle­ford, Be­nalla, Al­bury, El­do­rado and Beech­worth about the ob­jec­tives, his­tory and prac­tice of graft­ing and its ben­e­fits, such as the repli­ca­tion of reli­able fruit­ing va­ri­eties which have dis­tinc­tive taste, pro­duc­tion or keep- ing qual­i­ties and dis­ease, pest or cold re­sis­tance.

Mr Hil­ton said graft­ing en­abled a pro­ducer to cre­ate multi­graft trees from scratch and an abil­ity to add a new fruit­ing va­ri­ety to an ex­ist­ing tree.

It also al­lowed for the rapid re­pro­duc­tion of a sought-after va­ri­ety, could speed fruit­ing time and be used to re­pair dam­age.

But it could only suc­ceed within species – with genus malus (ap­ple) grafts com­pat­i­ble only on malus root­stock, just as genus pyrus ( pear) grafts grow suc­cess­fully only on pyrus root­stock.

Mr Show­ers said root­stocks of­fered a range of ad­van­tages, from dis­ease and in­sect re­sis­tance to dwarf­ing, har­di­ness, high yields, drought tol­er­ance and rapid growth.

The par­tic­i­pants in Satur­day’s work­shop had a choice of two – MM102 and MM106, named for the East Malling and Mer­ton hor­ti­cul­tural re- search sta­tions in the United King­dom where the stocks were bred.

The first grows to about three me­tres – or 55 per cent of the size of a nat­u­ral ap­ple seedling – and the sec­ond to about 3.5m (65pc).

Mr Hil­ton demon­strated a whip- and- tongue graft and, later, a rind graft.

Par­tic­i­pants prac­tised the cuts needed for a suc­cess­ful whip-and-tongue graft be­fore se­lect­ing scion wood pre­pared by Mr Show­ers and graft­ing it on two root­stocks.

Black Barn Farm of­fered a range of va­ri­eties, in­clud­ing her­itage ap­ples Cox’s Orange Pip­pin, Snow Ap­ple and Five Crown Pip­pin, and popular ap­ples Granny Smith and Gala.

Mr Hil­ton and his wife, Rita, run a highly-re­garded or­chard on Myrtle­ford-Stan­ley Road, south of Stan­ley, and their Snow­line Fruits is a reg­u­lar stall­holder at Myrtle­ford Farm­ers’ Mar­ket.

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