With the loss of Home Orchard Society scion fair, I was thinking about scion sources. They do not replace the sense of community, exchange of ideas, and excitement of sharing at a scion fair, or the number of choices. However, it is what it is.
I like the Fedco scion list for the descriptions. Scion is $5 a stick. They are located in Maine, and focus especially on heritage Maine varieties, varieties that do well there, and newer disease resistant varieties. My Goldrush, Otterson, Jonathan, Porter, Gala, Honeycrisp, Milo Gibson, Sweet-16 scions all came from Fedco. Their selections vary each year. All of my Fedco scions have been good, although I've had a few small ones (Otterson) that I had to cleft graft because it was too small to whip and tongue graft. I like their overall philosophy, think they would fit in in Oregon 30 years ago.
I've also bought scion from Burnt Ridge. Their scion wood is $5 a foot. Their list is more extensive than Fedco. I've only bought chestnut scion from them. It all took and grew well, and dome bloomed the first year. They are a family owned nursery in WA State.
I really, really don't need to add more trees. I'm also doing more extensive pruning this year to make my trees more manageable and less deer friendly, and actually reduce the fruit load. However, part of me can't help wanting to continue my late winter grafting tradition (always grateful to Jafar for instructing at HOS propagation fair about 11 years ago). My thoughts at the moment are, from Fedco, Opalescent, Mutsu, Golden Russet, Freedom, Frostbite. Some might be used for multigraft espalier, some for existing multigraft trees.
(as an off topic question on my own topic 😀, are russeted apples less susceptible to apple maggot or coddling moth? That might affect my order)
I know there are other sources too. I have had good success with these.
Re: susceptibility to pests, in my experience the hardness of the fruit makes the most difference. i.e. fruit that ripens late or is just more dense, has a LOT less damage from insects and birds. But with late-ripening fruit there is always the risk that cool weather will arrive before it is fully ripe.
Peninsula Fruit Club will hold our annual Spring Grafting Show on March 19, 2022, at the West Side Improvement Club, 4109 West E St, Bremerton, WA from 10 to 4. We normally have about 350-400 different apple scions, probably 75 pears, and some plums, kiwis, and grapes. Scion wood is $2. Admission is free.
Temperate Orchard Conservancy and Home Orchard Education Center both sell scions - and if you have nostalgia for HOS, there are some familiar faces behind the scenes there. Both non-profit.
I've also had good experiences with Burnt Ridge in Washington and with Fruitwood Nursery in California.
The absence of the HOS "scion fair" is much to be missed. There was always a fascinating diversity of cultivars that can be hard to acquire otherwise, if one were sufficiently aware of the rarity of certain varieties. I'd occasionally be fascinated to find a rare variety that I didn't know to be in cultivation in the U.S., and of course I'd have to grab one while I could. I suspect that those may have been from Nick Botner's personal collection. God bless 'im. He was not just a collector, but a connoisseur and, perhaps, may be worthy of sainthood for his efforts. His collection has now been reproduced by the Temperate Orchard Conservancy (TOC). I believe that scion wood requests can be made from the TOC starting on December 1st. I'm not sure of the prices, but any money paid would certainly contribute to the collection's maintenance. It forms an irreplaceable storehouse of varieties, some of which I can find no other source for.
If you "google around", you'll find a few apple sellers who offer scion wood for sale. The selections tend to be fairly limited though depending on your preferences.
Another source is the National germplasm collection. This should only be a last resort. Apparently, too many people who graft their own plants will request scion wood of cultivars which are readily available in the trade. The folks there don't appreciate that, and it's understandable. The National germplasm collection should ONLY be used for varieties that have no other source.
I keep thinking that I need to write a letter of inquiry to the curator of the collection in Geneva, NY, to see whether they can import some scions of apple varieties that would do well in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. which do well in Great Britain. At least for the present, those should do well in the PNW, although the Brits are also seeing the effects of global warming there, just as we are here.
I don't know whether this helps you at all, Daniel. With the demise of the HOS, we are all apparently looking for "someone" who can fill that role that we so enjoyed in past years.