Clonal Rootstock

EMLA 111 apple rootstock has resistance to wooly aphid, a major pest in parts of the world that can cripple apple trees.  But to get more of this rootstock you cannot just plant seeds from it; it must be cloned.  An easy way to do this is with a stool bed, and this example shows how to do it in a pot.

Last year I allowed an EMLA 111 rootstock to grow up in a pot and then cut it off at ground level.  As the roots started sending up shoots, I put a bottomless pot on top and started filling it up with a mixture of peat moss and perlite (sawdust works well also).  What resulted is that the shoots rooted into the peat quite nicely.  While they were growing, I also bud-grafted each shoot with the desired variety.

Taking advantage of the beautiful weather this afternoon I pulled the top pot off and raked back the peat, exposing the rooted shoots.  I dug down and was able to get the clippers under the root mass, and cut the two shoots free from the parent roots and potted them up.  The potted parent roots will continue to produce rooted suckers like this every year.

I ended up with two new trees pictured below called “sleeping eyes” because the dormant bud graft looks like an eye.  This spring the grafted bud will send forth a shoot that will become the trunk of the desired variety on the new tree, and it will have wooly aphid-resistant roots.  Now I can buy these rootstocks already grown for only about 60 cents each, and so I’m not going to go into production; but its nice to be able to show folks in Africa who can’t just mail order them how to do this ancient and useful craft.


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