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Idaho family homestead, plum/prune tree propagation
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4 Posts
May 5, 2019 - 11:03 am


I am hoping someone might be able to answer a few questions for me. My family has a homestead (1877) in Latah County, Idaho - the beautiful Palouse region. There is an old plum tree on the property, and I am interested in attempting to grow a few trees from seed. It is my understanding that with a heritage/heirloom tree, which is most likely 100 years or older, the seed will produce the same variety. Is that correct? And would it be better to grow from seed, or to find someone locally who can help me with grafting?
I am also curious about identifying the cultivar of said tree, and am hoping this forum would be able to point me in the direction of someone or some organization who will be able to help.
Thank you very much,
Carly Bean
622 Posts
May 6, 2019 - 10:48 am


If you grow trees from the seeds - seedlings - it will not be the same variety as the mother tree.  With some trees, the seedlings can be very similar to the mother.  

If you want genetically identical trees that will produce the same fruit as the parent.  You can grow trees from the seeds and then use those resulting seedling trees as rootstock onto which you graft cuttings (scions) from the tree you want to reproduce.  The resultant growth from the scion will be identical to the mother tree.  The roots and everything belowt he graft union will be the seedlings genes.

Some plum trees may also be amenable to rooting directly from cuttings.  If that were successful, it would be another way to get an exact genetic copy.

Vancouver SW Washington
684 Posts
May 10, 2019 - 7:00 am

To Carly:

The words cultivar and variety can be used interchangeably. In other words in fruit breeding a cultivar is a variety and vice versa. 

I know nobody has yet mentioned this so I will mention this here that it is kind of sometimes advisable with a little extra work to grow out seeds for 2-3 years, then graft any number of the new varieties into one common tree. Later on in the process all the variances will likely (in one of them) produce a very close set of characters that the mother tree had, and even more so if of course the seeds were derived from "sexually selfed" ie. maternally-praternally. 

Plums are not hard to graft and the idea of beating a virus (existant as a possibility) in the mother tree is another possible reason to not tract scions from the old into the newer. Usually these old problems are beat through the seed, but not always. 

The idea sounded good also concerning the cloning through "cuttings" since many plums can root without much problem. In which case you may wish to have the tree inspected for a couple of the usual viruses, which is actually a service too little known, but WSU in Prosser WA routinely take in samples for testing on a fee schedule basis. 

Bob Purvis is the closest public relations person I know to you for the fruiit tree grafting experience, but lives in the other (sw) part of your state. You should be able to see him at any his future grafting demos in Idaho, or come to us. "Purvis nursery" or orchards or "apricot". He might also know your plum.

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