Having set up a small backyard orchard this year my attention has turned to doing a bit of hybridizing in the coming springtime.
I have an assortment of apples, cherries and interspecific plums as well as a couple different cultivars each of grape, blueberry, blackberry, haskap, pear and a peach. The trees are on dwarfing rootstocks, mostly emla27, geneva3, geneva 935, newroot1 and citation.
My focus for breeding will be the stone fruit, particularly the interspecifics and cherries.
My past experience has been with roses so fruit culture is new to me and I've been looking for a resource like the forum the amateur rose breeders have but, until now, I hadn't found such a place.
It looks like most of the people here are in the northern Pacific region. Are any of you from my neck of the continent?
Zone 6a in the moraines of eastern Connecticut.
I know of a couple of regulars in Virginia and one from Florida.
Not everyone says where they are from.
I know enough from reading up on roses, pollen storage ideas, and doubling chromosomes by Zlesak using treflan to make better on crossing roses to speak your language. So comparing to plums and stone fruit in general things can be a little trickier for hybridizing if your not aware of these problems of interspecific prunus hybrids that interspecific roses might not have.
There are infertility between issues between each first generation crosses for F1 to F1 hybrids between any 2 landraces of plum as so often is the case when lack of production is found. For example I consider beginers luck having planted 2 hybrid shiro plum trees and always having crops from the proximity to purebreed myrobalan plums next door. When I try and do what I want to create crosses to my other interspecific plums, in each case they fail. The same goes for my F1 to F1 cherry hybrids crossed to each other, none of which are true siblings to each other, it's just that one is required to be purebreed.
If your in a disease free environment and things are going really well with your plums such as with Zaiger generics in California then fertility goes up then things might be different.
As far as your choice of rootstock I think if your of the experimental type you could secure some native beach plum in your area. They should likely (hypothetical) take apricot grafted to them, in which case the New Jersey breeding program is a good source of recommedation for the best apricots.
The western Canadian fruit contacts I have make good with smaller apricot trees on western plum or prunus besseyi, which beach plum is a close relative to.
Now on the Blue Ridge in VA, given zone 6b, I’m a transplant from the richness of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Instead of hybridizing, I’ve been looking hard to find tree fruit that survives these sub-zero cold spells, handles the multitude of fungus's associated with summer humidity, and are less desirable to Japanese Beetles.
With that, it may explain why so few people in my community grow fruit trees
Cherries and plums appear to die from black rot. Fireblight takes out most pears. Oriental plum fruit sets are wiped out by late, killing freezes. Seedless grapes are not hardy enough to survive the winters, as well as irresistible to the Jap. Beetles. Figs die to the ground most winters, so rarely ever fruit from 'the previous years growth.'
Though Persimmons are supposedly native, even named after ‘Virginia,’ I’ve found none in the wild, and none cultivated or planted in my area. So I planted one. Had enjoyed some native persimmons from yard trees in DC.
My fruit trees are five years in now, and though all but the Oriental plum have had consistent fruit production - all fruit was killed by 3 varying killing freezes late last spring; we'd previously had one day in the 90's! Even my well established Chinese chestnut tree had no nuts this year.
Only my Concord grape (5 years in as well) produced, after a foot of dieback and grapes around 2 weeks late.
What I’ve now done is limit myself to a proven regional Ma & Pa Nursery (Jones', owned and run by a couple apparently in their 90’s), that only sell what’s been proven to prosper in our climate or region. Thus my seedless grape has been replaced by a red seeded, Catawba.
Apples work, barring late freezes. Not sure how often such freezes hit, but surrounding ‘ridge trees’ had a near total loss this year.
On the West Coast we had three impressive and active fruit growing organizations, basically covering CA, OR, and WA. Over here … I’m still looking.. Reads like you are too. The only expert I’d found, Tom Burford, died… But he was prettymuch an Apple-only guy. So that’s where I’m at
Rooney, interesting suggestion about beach plum.
When I was a kid they were found everywhere along the Connecticut and Rhode Island shoreline and we picked them whenever we went to the beach. Today they are nowhere to be found, at least on public lands.
I had actually considered using beach plums as breeding stock but they are too large for my space and also my experience breeding roses tells me I would not live long enough to make something useful out of them. I had not thought of using them for rootstocks though.
So you have made crosses with interspecific plums. Have you worked with Zaiger's pluerries? I have Nadia and have ordered Flavor Punch, Candy Heart, Sugar Twist and Sweet Treat from Peaceful Valley. I think that's all of them. Have you had any success with crossing cherries on the pluerries?
I wish I was in a disease free zone. My orchard is a grove surrounded by red cedar and wild cherries. I had to cut two cedars down to put the fruit in. I'm expecting a running battle with black knot and rust.
Zone 6a in the moraines of eastern Connecticut.
>> With that, it may explain why so few people in my community grow fruit trees
Exactly the problem here, Viron. The only commercial orchards we have are small, pick-your-own apple operations. They are situated on southern facing slopes along the first eastern foothills out of the river valleys to catch the heat coming off the rivers. Some of them have put in downward windmills to break marginal frosts.
Pick your own strawberries are also around but less so these days. The State of Connecticut is not pesticide friendly and organic measures don't stand up to the pressures on this side of the continent. The clean winds off the Pacific get loaded up with every kind of thing by the time they get to us.
I don't have a lot of room for my own orchard so I decided I needed to use the super-dwarfing rootstocks and plant at three-foot intervals along an arbor. The plan is to keep the trees at head-height to accommodate frost covers and bird netting. I don't expect 100% success but am hoping for more than apples to survive.
>> I’m still looking.. Reads like you are too.
Well, today I came across a guy at the University of Massachusetts extension service named Jon Clemmons who is a big orchard promoter. When the plague ends I hope to get up there for a visit.
Zone 6a in the moraines of eastern Connecticut.
You mention being surrounded by wild cherry but failed to identify what kinds. I have played around with all the kinds that are native near to you which include the 2 most commonly found choke cherry and our closest cousin we have to the European sweet cherry, being this pin cherry in the map. These last two (ie. pins and sweets) will form two good grafts together.
If your interested in breeding types of these wild more adapted strains to where you are to any sweet cherry then it's not guaranteed to work well. I try hard working the western range of pin cherry to sweet cherry because it's been reported done long before. I have the old papers but no proof these still exist. I have tried as such for years and unless it's our ecotype of wild pin cherry (prunus emarginata aka bitter cherry) it won't breed, at least not yet. 🙁 However our wild pin cherry is very at home breeding with sweet cherry. 🙂
So far I have found easy crossing going on with our northern range pin cherry to our southern pin/bitter cherry ecotypes in hopes that my next generation crosses when they grow will capture better winter tolerance into sweet cherry. So my tree is hardy in interior Alaska and a great future sweet cherry candidate. 🙂
After all the most notthern growing sweet cherry that I ever found along the coast was Bulkley valley in B.C. along the Cassiar highway and that is nearest to the southern panhandle of Alaska. The tree lived long enough to carry about 20 cherries this last lucky summer for it but will soon die from too much winter damage and stress.
The goal using fertility counts when bringing what you want from one side into another. This is why I needed my pin to pin/bitter cherry hybrid creation, so in order to bring together something done only once before but with more frequent results. This is the only way to get what we want for larger pin cherry in interior Alaska and for the others I work with there to try and make it happen. All these between sweet, pin, and bitter are constant diploids so trying with sour cherry will fertilize and bear fruit and following year produce new trees, but the only potential is sterile flowers that have no chance of further increase..
Our native road hybrids (aka x-pugetensis) here in Washington are complete 50 - 50s with our native diploids to the sweet cherry diploids. ...and as in my first post "they won't cross among each other" but they will backcross to any the parent types in any direction as they are found all the time frequently even in every park here it seems.
Other BC ecotypes as the Shuswap valley B.C. types of mid-range pin/bitter cherry is less able to cross with sweet cherry then our more locally found ones but a few have been found as hybrids in that Shuswap area though.
Have you worked with Zaiger's pluerries? I have Nadia and have ordered Flavor Punch, Candy Heart, Sugar Twist and Sweet Treat from Peaceful Valley. I think that's all of them. Have you had any success with crossing cherries on the pluerries?
I have had hybrid Nadia, the plum x sweet cherry developed in Australia and have been working hard to get the tree to become stronger, later flowering, or more fertile with other pin cherry and ecotypes as our bitter cherry. Especially this past spring with zero success. It seems possibly to develop fruits via apomixis, meaning that the pits could conceivably present carbon copies of itself.
I do have Sugar Twist but am slowly ditching hopes this will improve my chances over Nadia as a choice to make such cherry hybrids based on the above performance of Nadia x the pure pin or the pure bitter cherry pollen sources.
The general and slowly developing concensus here is that unless your plum hybrids here have close to 50% myrobalan plum in it there will be health and therefore erroding fertility issues. The muckle plums planted as some border pink flowering trees are supposedly also 50% myrobalan. They die because they also are listed as 50% having the northern brand of prunus americana plum heritage. So it just depends on luck of the straw which strands of DNA from mother or father passes along sometimes. However in some proven cases of epigenetic engineering of grafting to a very experienced rootstock that this idea of lucky gets frowned on because the proper rootstocks can have profound effects. So seed that thought for your local plum gathering possibilities, if that is, there are any those left at all. 🙂
I don't know which species the cherry trees are although I think we may have all three of black cherry, pin cherry and choke cherry. I'm pretty sure the one that fell over in a recent storm and is now laying in the yard waiting for me to dice it up for firewood is a black cherry. We moved into this place only a year ago and I missed the window for flower and fruit photos on account of child care duties during the plague. It was all I could do to get the orchard planted. So, it's on the list.
>> If your interested in breeding types of these wild more adapted strains to where you are to any sweet cherry then it's not guaranteed to work well.
I hope you will tell me in more detail what you have done. I worked with species roses for 30 years and faced similar problems. I admit to thinking about doing this but I'm no spring chicken and it takes several lifetimes to refine species. I'm thinking of grafting native pin cherry to gisele-3 for convenience, do you think this will work? It's actually pretty dangerous to try collecting pollen from the native trees here for several reasons, and impossible to use them as mother plants.
>> all these between sweet, pin, and bitter are constant diploids so trying with sour cherry will fertilize and bear fruit and following year produce new trees, but the only potential is sterile flowers that have no chance of further increase..
As Zlesak can tell you, with roses we know that triploids (and tetraploids) produce pollen with a range of ploidy levels. I would expect the same from cherries. I am trying to get a copy of Balaton for crossing with the pluerries with this in mind.
BTW you mentioned trifluralin, this is on my mind for the sweet cherries. Have you tried it, or cholchicine?
Zone 6a in the moraines of eastern Connecticut.
We’ve one major semi-local (about 1,000 feet below the south side of the blue ridge) orchard that grows both apples and peaches. Peaches appear to do relatively well around here, with little care - but after 30 years of watching them slowly die out West, I haven’t the courage to try any over here.
A Nursery just down the road (not the one I’d mentioned) has a yearly smattering of fruit trees. They’re lucky to get watered, or picked up after summer storms. So I’ve watched for several seasons to see which if any peach varieties survived the neglect. None have impressed me enough to plant.
I get it with the pesticide-free strawberries … I lost that battle out West, and doubt I’ll ever try them over here. Don’t think anyone grows them here on the Ridge. And, that ‘Ridge’ is a real limiter, giving us, with elevation, a climate closer to yours than places like Richmond, VA on the coastal plane (where I met a woman growing a half-dozen fig trees).
With that, I’m sure our locals simply head off the ridge to orchards growing all kinds of warmer weather fruits not that far away. So why mess with them ‘up here’ could be their philosophy…? We also have decent yearly fruit stands selling Melons and strawberries, all grown just to our south..
Regarding the humidity, I’ve finally (as of this year) acclimated! But, I also stopped watering my garden 3 months ago! And, no forest fires… My ol’ place out west had been surrounded by three of them recently. Don’t miss that.
Speaking of gardens, I’d planted my 1st this year since arriving. Had built & tilled the soil every year, though. Wow! Though covering them (for the 3rd time) last night against frost, I’m giving ‘sweet peppers’ and fat tomatoes away! The heat, summer rain, and warm nights appear to give me near twice the production - in half the time as out West. Going to try watermelons next year
I don’t want to call my local extension agent ..an idiot, but he likely thinks I am - for attempting to grow various fruit trees He has recommended me as ‘an orchard consultant’ to various folks. That’s been interesting… ‘Build a deer fence’ is often my first advice. And the black bear are thick around here! So ‘put a hot wire around it for bear,’ I’ll occasionally add.
The Agent puts on a grafting class at the local HS, so after I described my credentials and experience grafting with the HOS … I was disappointed not to have been called. I suppose ‘it’s his thing.’ I do miss grafting, as my skills and tools go to waste over here
I hope you’re safe from deer, with trees low & close. They run in herds around here! Bear, too … not sure what a pack of bear are called..?
Was talking with my neighbor last night about some fall pruning on a couple of his mature apple trees I tend. ‘Do whatever you want,’ he said. All in all, I’m happy here, and when you nearly forget what you had, whatever you find in place of it generally tastes good. Like that neighbor's Transparent apples. Though, following the HOS Arboretum on facebook … posting figs, and once having 7 trees of them, my mouth will water ..as I choke back tears.. Life ~
Crankyankee, when I said:
">> If your interested in breeding types of these wild more adapted strains to where you are to any sweet cherry then it's not guaranteed to work well. "
..What I mean in more detail is having started out with a plan I saw these pin cherry imports taken into Alaska at UAF gardens as two cultivars, one being the very best in all character of fruit size, productivity, and hardiness. Both were sweet eating cultivars, but the best of the two is 'jumpingpound' because of the freeze tolerant flowers and fruit size up to 9/16 inches diameter.
I emasculated 140 flowers of the better of the two and used pure sweet cherry pollen, but only 3-4 fruited. The next year following this (this all about 12 years in the past) I remember refining my strategy by collecting western Washington prunus emarginata pollen (bitter cherry) and another collection the same year from naturalized F1 hybrid x-pugetensis, also from Washington.
I had emasculated one big branch of many flowers like the year before and of course same tree. I had IDed two areas of the branch and kept the hand pollinations of the pure breed prunus emarginata on the one side (say left) and the rest of the F1 sourced pollen on the other (right side), but on the left side I may have purposely mixed both sources for the increase chance of "pioneer pollen" taking effect.
Based on the rate of takes on the left of 33% the pioneer pollen did not seem important because rates of setting on the right were low at 10%. Normal open pollinations with honey bee hives near cause a bit more than 50% at most. Based on this the prunus emarginata praternal tree that I used from the I-90 pass through Washington at Easton is a good indicator that these two species interbreed.
It also became very clear that last years very low 2-3% results with pure sweet cherry pollen were never in my lifetime going to produce a viable new line of any newer species either.
I was hampered by the fact that pin cherry seeds are tough to germinate. All those pollinations, no trees! ...as the years went by seeds under these imported pin cherry trees, seedlings, from likely a multiyear seedbank were noted growing, and especially when some ground landscaping was done to remove grasses. Of under there I was very fortunate to have recovered my first cross between those done several years by then earlier. Here about 5 years later the tree has proven every aspect of being with hybrid vigor, all the intermediate characters of both parent species, high production, and as I stated yesterday it is completely hardy and sturdy for Alaska interior conditions as much so as the mother tree in every respect.
I am fortunate to have worked with those at UAF on this forward looking project. Much thanks to a retiree from uSask in Canada who recently taught me how to fracture the thick coats of these native pin and bitter cherry, as necessary to release the kernel to grow, in turn favor the future aspects of developing this further.
I'm thinking of grafting native pin cherry to gisela-3 for convenience, do you think this will work?
I have noted many instances in person of pin cherry or x-pugetensis growing just fine on sour cherry, 'blackgold' sweet cherry (early butlat not so good), prunus maacki (aka amur cherry). I use this as part of the plan. But every one of these that I have of my own or of others are all having some branches originating on them from the rootstock. The method is to give these unproven grafts a chance to live in case of ploem degereration at the graft that the rootstock can still maintain life to the roots, in turn this increase the livelihood of the scion.
About ploidy and the doubling chemicals:
I have a ton of left over treflan from 10 years ago. It worked on sweet cherry seedlings like it was supposed to. I tried it once thanks to those instructions of the dose and use etc of DMSO. These sweet cherries are unhealthy from seed when selfed such as a self pollinated lapins. Thus proving they are obligate outcrossers unlike roses. Therefore it happened that these seedlings that did recover into a state of remission after treatment were too ill to tecover from disease pressure the first winter. They died over winter. Some that were not so effected by the shot lived and are 10 year old trees today that prove to be productive.
Thanks Zlesak! As far as his other paper on pollen size: I also take advantage of some unstable sour cherry offspring tracing them to the selfed of the parent 'evans'. I have more papers on the duke cherries that study these aspects of "unstable". One of my evans offsprings is fertile and varies year to year on percent haploid to diploid pollen production. I just use my cellphone and take clear digital pictures through the lens of my microscope, take them to my desktop, and measure them with special mouse icons. Pretty cool but in a way kind-a cheap for peer review, but love it.
>> Some that were not so effected by the shot lived and are 10 year old trees today that prove to be productive.
Are they polyploid?
>> Much thanks to a retiree from uSask in Canada who recently taught me how to fracture the thick coats of these native pin and bitter cherry, as necessary to release the kernel to grow
How is this done?
Zone 6a in the moraines of eastern Connecticut.
I don't know if there is some strangely arranged or doubled up DNA strands or polyploidy. My point earlier should have included that I happened to give up on the idea of doubling sweet cherry and with that the only reason I even planted these healthy ones into maturity is that each of the parents were late blooming and also show good resistance to our PNW diseases. The late blooming carried over for 2 of those 3 I culled down to for sure. One is survived as a graft on my jumpingpound x bitter cherry'hybrid root branch-off after it's first snow protection. Which flowered this spring but late enough to miss the normal pin cherry bloom. (life is full of tricks)
U of Sask retiree from the cherry program in Canada had used a file to scarify the seed coat. I thought that seemed hard so I found an old 3 section flaring tool for small hollow copper as used for propane. I did it and overwintered them here in PNW to provide enough warm September period storage and after the long above freezing cool storage. I put half the pin and bitter cherry subjects in the right hole one at a time. Then slowly finger tightened until I could hear a little snap. Then monitored the results in potting soil in an outdoors shady place after the December fracturing process I just described. But I had to make it very easy for me to inspect for infections so they got covered by glass, then something thin like tin, I forget. But sure enough I caught the initial stages of mold in about Dec/Jan, so I chose to discard the worst and soak the rest of the 90% in aquarium antibiotics overnight. The kind Bernie of NAFEX taught people to use for young pear grafts when they show blight.
After this treatment none more showed the infection. But keep watching until they have a long enough wait to rise and get some light and carbs manufactured.
None of the unfractured seed of either kind ever sprouted. So I threw them out when I had seen enough of the fractured ones rise.
Prior to this the only one time I did see germination from anybody besides Canada was another volunteer in Alaska decided to lower a batch of seeds in a well like system down 5 feet and so near the ground water level that the seeds still remained airbound and unfractured all winter at 33 degrees. That worked so the high humidity can be another lucky way to soften seed coats possibly making it a bit easier.
>> Then monitored the results in potting soil in an outdoors shady place after the December fracturing process
You needed to take the embryos fully out of the shells then remove the testae.
The rose people do this for difficult to germinate seeds. See this manual:
I myself tried this with apple, cherry and orange, works well. You can have seedlings ready to pot up in a week or two, sometimes in a few days. It helps to make the little gadget described in the manual for seeds like cherry because the shells are pretty hard but you can use large size toenail clippers too.
So it is possible to germinate seeds when you harvest them and shave a half year off the germination process. As soon as the seedlings are big enough to handle they can go onto a precocious rootstock by micrografting and you maybe saved a year or even two.
Zone 6a in the moraines of eastern Connecticut.
...it is possible to germinate seeds when you harvest them and shave a half year off the germination process. As soon as the seedlings are big enough to handle they can go onto a precocious rootstock by micrografting and you maybe saved a year or even two.
It makes it hard for plants to keep all the necessary timing and dormancy preparations that are generally put upon a plant growing in a harsh environment like Alaska is. In which case if one had a greenhouse then I can see shaving time is possible. In which case the final step of micrografting onto an already growing plant that is outdoors in the same environment an essential necessary step in order to not lose hardiness.
What I mean is that Fairbanks has a season where bud swell to almost complete dormancy is a period of time that must occur in under 5 months. That's alot of work when you consider all the growing and cropping that has to occur for survival and species adaption. Which makes this point I'm trying to make clear to any possible northern breeders that these mother rootstocks the micrografts occur on must be the same mother plants and still growing in the same area.
...Then all my notes and yours taken together are in full agreement.