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Dormant rootstocks for spring grafting
Lewis Co., WA
375 Posts
September 12, 2021 - 6:29 pm

Hello Forum members of the erstwhile HOS Forum,

I'm already starting to think about potential grafts to be made next year and I'm open to suggestions of good, reputable, and most preferably virus-free rootstocks that are correctly identified.  It may have been about a year ago when a couple of sources were mentioned on the Forum after the HOS, sadly, folded up its tent,... but I'll be darned if I can wade through all the postings to find them.  I could Google sources, but that wouldn't give me objective comments from former HOS members who might have some experience with them.

In the past I've ordered my dormant grafting rootstocks from Raintree, under the founder Sam Benowitz.  He produced a printed, mailed catalog and the rootstocks of whatever ilk had quantity discounts.  Those provided a nice incentive for purchasing more of a given rootstock in order to save money.  I don't mean to be denigrating, but the new owner (apparently a young man who made his fortune in the internet) apparently doesn't know the concept of retail incentives.  When I checked on the internet last autumn, I found that each and every rootstock from Raintree was full price, regardless of the quantity ordered.  I'm not rich.  Yes, I appreciate a bargain, but not if the product is inferior.  

If any of you have a recommendation for A1, Premium, quality, virus-free dormant rootstocks that you can recommend, please post the sources for us.  It's clear to me that I have to propagate my own rootstocks henceforth.  If so, I'd like the highest quality.  Sadly, I'm somewhere in the "badlands" between curious amateur experimenter and larger commercial enterprise.  ...Ain't that just the way it goes....

Reinettes. Cry -- Confused -- Wink.

Vancouver SW Washington
686 Posts
September 13, 2021 - 9:51 am

I spent a time yesterday planning next year's yard areas as well. My grafting interests are a bit more into discovery than yours, such as an attempt to use pear onto my 'geneva-30' apple stocks (rootstocks) from Raintree. My problem isn't the $4.50 price tag as long as they all lived (all 12 did). The real issue was that unless the rootstocks are 'apple m26' that pears are not likely to be compatible. [ per Westwood et. al ] But I have plently 'apple m26' scionwood available to me and I will want to learn if it's possible to make a fit for pear to work onto 'apple m26' with any other apple root such as 'geneva-30'. 

Those wishing to hunt down a better deal, hopefully you will find a location that offers extra quantities, but you usually get what you pay for. My cousin who cherry farmed got a late season cherry rootstock deal in which half his trees died! So I guess if you had to you can wait a season or two and regraft top branches as scionwood to what roots that gave rise to them. I think I can legally get away with it on many apples outside of patent right now. I have successfully done this with formerly patented plum roots before, such as 'citation', but plums are trickier to graft than apples. 

Good luck in your searches!

78 Posts
September 14, 2021 - 6:00 pm

If you plan to order from Raintree then order early, like right now.

Last year I spread my order out over the fall and into the winter past the holidays.

The trees I ordered by Thanksgiving were shipped together and arrived April 23, a little later than I would have liked but they were quite dormant, leafed out slowly and have done fine. The trees I ordered in February and early March arrived May 13. They too were quite dormant but they took a lot longer to leaf out and three out of five Krymsk-1 rootstocks eventually died. Four OHFX333 rootstocks that I ordered as an afterthought on March 24 arrived on May 18, took forever to leaf out but never really took off and died in August.

So while Raintree does schedule shipments to match expected weather conditions they ship on a first in/first out basis. I'm not complaining about it, just alerting you to the need to get your order in asap.

Zone 6a in the moraines of eastern Connecticut.

Lewis Co., WA
375 Posts
September 19, 2021 - 10:39 pm

Hi guys,

Thanks very much for your comments.  

Rooney:  I applaud your experimentation with intergeneric grafts.  I was very interested in the subject several years ago, but subsequently wanted more predictable results with a better chance of success.  In my experience with the G30 rootstocks, I have not been pleased.  About 3 years ago I made a couple of grafts of specific apple clones on both G30 and EMLA 26.  In retrospect, the results on the old traditional M26 were much better resulting in living grafted trees while the grafts onto G30, percentage-wise, were considerably inferior.  Losses (at, or after grafting) were considerably higher.  ...And that was already with the a priori knowledge that sprouts on the rootstock should not be removed until the scion itself was well established on the graft.  Subsequently I also learned that the apple/apple grafts on G30 had the risk of snapping off in strong winds due to a weak interlinking graft.  I won't be using them again.  If this was the case with apple upon apple, then I'd be reluctant to use it experimentally in an intergeneric graft.  ...Just my own thoughts on the matter.  Despite the shortcomings of M26, so far, it seems to me no worse than the newer Geneva rootstocks that are being promoted.  I hate to say that, but this is only based on my personal experience.  Yet, to me, personal observation under my own conditions is worth more than any supposed results elsewhere.  That being said, keep experimenting my friend!

Crankyankee:  I'll hold Raintree as a backup, but I really want to find a source for quality rootstocks without paying through the nose.  If I have to go a year without purchased rootstocks, I'll just have to make do (--but not doo, or doo-doo).  I like quality, but I don't like paying for more than I have to.  "Charge what the market will bear" is the motto.  Well, fine.  But I'm nowhere near the middle or upper class.  Charge me what is a reasonable cost in which you get a profit but I'm getting a fair, square, and reasonable deal.  That's my perspective.  Yes.  I can be cranky too. Wink


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