|K-State Research and Extension Horticulture Newsletter
Nurseries often sell apple trees that bear more than one variety of fruit. The secret is grafting. All apple trees are grafted, which is done by grafting the apple-producing variety (the scion) on a variety chosen for its dwarfing effects (the rootstock). A tree with more than one variety simply has more than one fruiting variety grafted onto a single rootstock. Grafting allows growers to have a single tree that could produce Jonathan, Red Delicious and Golden Delicious apples. These trees can be a unique attraction and a good conversation point in a fruit garden. If space is limited, a multiple grafted tree may allow growers to have a greater variety of fruit than with individual varieties on separate trees. However, there are some possible drawbacks. Whoever prunes the trees may not recognize the individual grafts and may unknowingly prune off one of the varieties. Also, varieties may vary in vigor, and stronger varieties can crowd weaker ones. There also may be a difference in susceptibility to disease among varieties and among different kinds of fruit. Some may have resistance to a disease and not require protection, but others are susceptible and do require protection. If the susceptible fruits are protected, the more resistant ones will be sprayed unnecessarily. (Ward Upham)
Cynthia Domenghini runs the Horticulture Response Center in the Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources at Kansas State University. Other contributors include K-State Extension Specialists.