Vick's Monthly Magazine 9: 267 (Sept 1886)

T. H. Hoskins, M. D.

It has long been a matter of dispute stock amongst nurserymen and fruit-growers whether the stock upon which a scion is grafted exercises any influence upon the character of the fruit of the tree or limb grown from that scion. Many utterly scout the idea of any effect upon the fruit being produced in that way, and if differences are pointed out to them they are attributed to soil, season, or some other cause. With careless observers such explanations are, perhaps, satisfactory, but to any orchardist who has carefully studied the matter, facts accumulate which make it more and more apparent that something besides soil or season is often at work to change the fruit of the scion from its normal character, and this study of the subject with an unbiassed mind always tends to the conclusion that the stock does, in many cases, greatly change the character of the fruit produced from the scion.

These variations in grafted fruit are from nothing to very wide. Let any one go into a large bearing orchard of top-grafted Baldwins, Greenings, or any standard Apple, at gathering time, and he cannot fail to notice great variations in size, color and quality of the fruit, even from trees growing side by side. According to my experience and observation these differences are very much more marked in top-grafted than in root-grafted orchards. In the New England States top-grafting, especially for the standard fruits, is so general as to be nearly universal, while in New York, Ohio and Michigan the orchards are mainly set with root-grafted or budded trees. I think any large dealer who has handled Apples from these different sources will testify to the much greater uniformity and truth to character of western over eastern Apples, and I know of no general cause to which it can be due other than these two modes of grafting. It seems reasonable, too, if the stock does modify the graft, that the more there is of the stock the greater the change will be likely to be. I say "likely," because marked modification is not universal, or even general. If the stock resembles the scion in the texture of its wood, its habits of growth and the quality of its natural fruit, the change will not be noticeable, while if there is marked difference in these particulars, a corresponding difference is apt to be found in the fruit.

My attention to this matter of what may be called "graft crossing," was awakened a great many years ago, when I was a boy, about the year 1838. I was then extremely fond of the Sops-of-Wine Apple, known also as Bell's Early. My grandfather had a large orchard, but no Sops-of-Wines, and at my urgent request he grafted scions of that variety into branches on half a dozen trees for my benefit. I watched these scions anxiously for fruit, and in three or four years they all bore. But I was greatly disappointed to find that this fruit, though externally appearing to be Sops-of-Wine, was hard, green-fleshed, and miserable to eat. There was but one exception, and that was upon a Pound Sweet tree, the others being upon Russets. This Pound Sweet graft bore very large, handsome and excellent Sops-of-Wines, but the rest were worthless.

Some thirteen years ago, I was speaking of this to the late Albert Noyes, of Bangor, Maine, who said he had had many similar experiences, especially in getting extra sized fruit for exhibition by grafting upon Alexander, all varieties seeming to grow larger and handsomer when so worked. But this size was got at the expense of quality.

A more curious matter still is, that by grafting "in and in" upon the same tree the change produced can be much intensified. By "in and in" grafting, I mean grafting a scion upon the limb of a tree, then next year taking a scion from the graft and grafting it into the same tree; next year take a scion from the second graft and insert it in the same tree. This may be repeated again and again, the result being that you will have all grades between the original fruit of the graft and the original fruit of the stock. To be quite successful there must be difference enough between the stock and first scion to start a change. But by in and in grafting the effect is often so marked from one year's graft to the next, and so on, as to make a positive demonstration of the actuality of this which I call "graft crossing."

R. Dibble, of Brantford, Conn., was the man who, in June, 1873, first called my attention to this method of intensification of the graft cross by grafting in and in. He wrote: "About forty years ago, my father had a large and thrifty Apple tree which bore exceedingly sour fruit. I helped him graft a part of it from a very sweet Apple standing near. The second year we grafted another part from the scions set the previous year. The third year we grafted the rest of the tree from the second setting. These grafts produced three different kinds of fruit, all differing from each of the original stocks. The first strongly resembled the sweet Apple, but were only moderately sweet. The second were slightly striped, like the sour Apple, and neither sweet nor sour, while the third were clearly striped, and a moderately sour Apple." Mr. Dibble adds, "No man can graft a Rhode Island Greening on a sweet Apple stock and another from the same on a sour stock, and have the same fruit in appearance and taste as the original from each tree. To say the least, I have never been able to do it. I have a number of them, but no two are alike."

In grafting common Apples upon Siberian Crabs the cross is so violent that these effects are very often seen, and as this is done to a considerable extent in my neighborhood, I have frequent opportunities to see what remarkable changes are thus effected in size, color and quality of fruit. T. H. Hoskins, M. D.

Effect Of Stock On Pear Grafts.— In the Rural New-Yorker, A. D. Morse relates that he grafted Winter Nelis on trees of Bloodgood and Flemish Beauty. The fruit of Winter Nelis produced on the latter were yellow brown, and ripened in December; that on Bloodgood was green in color, and it kept through January.