Sunday, April 30, 2017

Grafting Summer Apples for Adak

Living in a sub-arctic maritime climate can be a challenge to growing things. I don’t remember in the 11 months I’ve been here on Adak that the temperature rose above 50 degrees, and that was just for one afternoon or so. My first agenda item was to find the earliest ripening apples available and then to order scion wood and root stock. I formulated a variety list from an old edition of Fruit Berry and Nut Inventory (1993-06-03) and then had to find nurseries that stocked scions.

I was able to find 22 varieties still being offered, two of which were sold out when I ordered. I ordered from Fedco, Maple Valley and Big Horse Creek nurseries, all of which were very helpful and offered great customer service. I ordered Bud-9 dwarfing rootstock from Burnt Ridge Nurseries and a Fedco grafting kit.

Here is my list of earliest ripening apple varieties ordered this Spring.

Carolina Red June
Early Harvest
Geneva Crab
Irish Peach
Red Astrichan
State Fair
Summer Rambo
Sweet Bough
Whitney Crab
Yellow Transparent

Nursery stock can be variable from year to year for several reasons–tree is biennial and not bearing scion this year, sold out, or death/disease of tree. If you have your heart set on a particular variety, keep trying.

The next step is to callous or harden off the grafts and make sure they have “taken” before placing them in a nursery bed or trench filled with sand and sawdust for this year to develop roots or in nursery pots–they will be ready for setting out in rows next Spring. Because I chose to use Bud-9 rootstock, I should have fruit in 2 or 3 years and each will require a stake to protect against wind and to offer support for such early fruiting, which is termed precocious.

While the grafts are maturing, I will be preparing the orchard space by removing the sod and digging trenches in which to insert upright pallets supported on either side by rolls of sod to be used as windbreaks–after all, Adak is called “the birthplace of the winds.”

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