By a process known as grafting you can force your tree to produce whatever variety of apple you desire. Many people raise fruit trees directly from seed without grafting. Thus they often produce really worthless trees. By grafting they would make sure not only of having good trees rather than poor ones but also of having the particular kind of fruit that they wish. Hence you must now graft your tree.
First you must decide what variety of apple you want to grow on the tree. The Magnum Bonum is a great favorite as a fall apple. The Winesap is a good winter apple, while the Red Astrachan is a profitable early apple, especially in the lowland of the coast region. The Northern Spy, Æsop, and Spitzenburg are also admirable kinds. Possibly some other apple that you know may suit your taste and needs better than any of these varieties.
A Completed Graft
If you have decided to raise an Æsop or a Magnum Bonum or a Winesap, you must now cut a twig from the tree of your choice and graft it upon the little tree that you have raised. Choose a twig that is about the thickness of the young tree at the point where you wish to graft. Be careful to take the shoot from a vigorous, healthy part of the tree.
There are many ways in which you may join the chosen shoot or twig upon the young tree, but perhaps the best one for you to use is known as tongue grafting. This is illustrated in Fig. 64. The upper part, b, which is the shoot or twig that you cut from the tree, is known as the scion; the lower part, a, which is the original tree, is called the stock.
Cut the scion and stock as shown in Fig. 64. Join the cut end of the scion to the cut end of the stock. When you join them, notice that under the bark of each there is a thin layer of soft, juicy tissue. This is called the cambium. To make a successful graft the cambium in the scion must exactly join the cambium in the stock. Be careful, then, to see that cambium meets cambium. You now see why grafting can be more successfully done if you select a scion and stock of nearly the same size.
To make a root graft, cut along the slanting line
After fitting the parts closely together, bind them with cotton yarn (see Fig. 65) that has been coated with grafting wax. This wax is made of equal parts of tallow, beeswax, and linseed oil. Smear the wax thoroughly over the whole joint, and make sure that the joint is completely air-tight.
A Completed Root Graft
The best time to make this graft is when scion and stock are dormant, that is, when they are not in leaf. During the winter, say in February, is the best time to graft the tree. Set the grafted tree away again in damp sand until spring, then plant it in loose, rich soil.
Since all parts growing above the graft will be of the same kind as the scion, while all branches below it will be like the stock, it is well to graft low on the stock or even upon the root itself. The slanting double line in Fig. 66 shows the proper place to cut off for such grafting.
If you like you may sometime make the interesting and valuable experiment of grafting scions from various kinds of apple trees on the branches of one stock. In this way you can secure a tree bearing a number of kinds of fruit. You may thus raise the Bonum, Red Astrachan, Winesap, and as many other varieties of apples as you wish, upon one tree. For this experiment, however, you will find it better to resort to cleft grafting, which is illustrated in Fig. 68.
Luther Burbank, the originator of the Burbank potato, in attempting to find a variety of apple suited to the climate of California, grafted more than five hundred kinds of apple scions on one tree, so that he might watch them side by side and find out which kind was best suited to that state.