There was a whole lotta of grafting going on in Smethport, Pennsylvania. It was a two-day grafting workshop performed on March 8th and 9th to benefit the community garden project. Dr. Jon Cawley from the Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia led the workshop which resulted in 95 Appalachian heritage apple trees being grafted and made ready for spring planting to establish a Smethport heritage orchard. The plantings will be near by the Poor Farm Barn and along Marvin Run. We donated grafting sticks from our “white” transparent apple tree in Odin, Pennsylvania to the workshop and in return we got helpful insights with hands-on training on the proper methods used in apple tree grafting. As the orchard plans develop, local farms and the community can donate more scion wood to the project and then receive scions back when the trees are mature enough to provide cuttings. With some strategy, this is sure to become the most rewarding part—that is assembling a collection drawn from the local history and diversity—and then making scions and/or grafted trees available to the local/regional farms and gardeners.
The basic procedure was to graft individual scions from several different heritage apple trees onto the M111 rootstocks and store the grafted unions in pots until an April planting at the historic McKean County Poor Farm Barn. A kind of cleft graft as illustrated here was used where the rootstock (see B) about the same size as the scion (A) was split and a wedge-shaped scion inserted. In the cases where rootstock was larger than the scion, the grafters were careful to set the scion to one side instead of on center (C). In this way, the cambium of stock and scion will make contact. Also, the scion (A) was shaped to have a bud located at the side of the wedge with at least three additional buds located above the wedge. The graft union (D) was carefully made with electrical tape tightly wrapped around the rootstock. Melted grafting wax was then applied to the graft union and to the top tip of cut scion stick. The tape and wax protect the splice from pests and diseases, and also keeps the splice from drying out, all of which could cause the graft to fail. As the graft grows the tape stretches and eventually deteriorates along with the wax.