Teaching successful apple grafting techniques to commercial fruit growers
Grafting old apple varieties to new ones is a technique commercial fruit growers can use to change unprofitable varieties to profitable ones in a very short time. There are many variations of the techniques used to graft. I taught and demonstrated the specific techniques appropriate for New York and critical considerations for commercial success to commercial growers.
The cost of establishing a new orchard today is approximately $5,000-$10,000 and the time to significant fruit production can be five-six years. This investment and associated risk make establishment of a new orchard difficult for some fruit growers. Grafting-over provides growers an opportunity to change to more profitable apple varieties without having to remove an existing orchard and replant trees reducing the upfront cost, reducing risk, and improving potential profitability. In the past, grafting was not commonly practices because is was too risky a proposition with a significant chance of failure. Observation of professionals from Washington state has shown us the critical points for successful grafting in New York. With this knowledge, we used Cornell Co-operative Extension (CCE) sponsored fruit schools to teach and demonstrate the essential variations in grafting techniques for New York. Now growers with very little follow-up can successfully graft by hiring professional, teach their own employees, or do it themselves. This will result in less expensive renewal of apple orchards to the newest most desirable varieties, improved profitability for farms that graft over to these new varieties with better fruit prices and fruit quality, and a wider variety of locally grown apples available to the public.
I established a demonstration block at the Hudson Valley lab where an older apple block was converted to several newer available strains of the popular Fuji variety. Grafting techniques and critical control points were videotaped during important stages of the process. These taped segments are being edited into a complete video for distribution to interested commercial fruit growers. We taught growers the technique at the Summer Hudson Valley Fruit Tour held on August 7, 2007. We also visited interested growers on site to advise them.
Grafting is a program done in the late spring so results from our educational effort cannot be evaluated until August 2008. However, more than 10 Hudson Valley growers have requested information and consultation and are planning to start grafting on a small scale at first. Other growers from western New York have already started grafting based on programs conducted there in 2004-6. If 10 growers graft-over two acres each, potential saving compared to removing and replanting will be $11,200 per grower. Fruit production from this block will occur one-three years after grafting, significantly improving that growers profitability over a replanted block
- United States of America
United States focus:
- New York
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