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Grafting Invasive Bradford Pears to Produce Fruit By Lincoln Smith With the pretty Bradford Pear trees blooming stinkily all around, the season is right for some grafting. Using a simple bark-grafting technique, it’s possible to make these weedy trees into producers of delicious European or Asian Pear fruit. The ‘Bradford’ variety of Callery Pear (Pyrus calleryana) was for a time one of the most widelyplanted street trees, for its ornamental flowers, fast growth, and upright habit. It is ubiquitous on streets and in neighborhoods throughout the eastern U.S. The tree fell out of favor though as people realized that it splits easily in snow or wind, and its seedlings widely invade fields and forests. Some jurisdictions now have Callery Pear removal programs. Grafting is a way to make use of Callery Pears. A quick word on grafts: this is a way of getting good fruit by taking a twig from a tasty tree and fusing it onto the base of a mediocre fruiter. Just about all the fruit you buy in the grocery store comes from grafted trees. In the case of wild Callery Pears, their fruit is tiny and inedible. But with a twig from a fruiting pear, they can bring forth sweet abundance. And by the way, if you buy a pear tree from a nursery, it will already have been grafted onto, guess what — Callery Pear as the root stock. So why not graft your own, and skip the hardest part of growing trees — getting the plant to survive transplanting shock? Bark grafting is a simple technique that works on pear trees with trunks ranging from about 1" thick up to 8" or more. It requires only simple tools and half an hour to make a graft, with most of the work being to fell the tree you want to graft.

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Bark Grafting Materials List

• Tree Saw • Scionwood (sticks from a fruiting pear tree) • Pruners • Knife (e.g. Victorinox Budding & Grafting Knife) • Parafilm Tape • Wax or Grafting Compound (e.g. Tanglefoot) • Grafting Compound Applicator (e.g. putty knife) • Labels (e.g. Impress-O-Tags)

Grafting Steps

1. Cut down your Callery Pear to about three feet above the ground. Make the cut clean and smooth, at right angles to the trunk. 2. Make a 1½-inch angled cut at the bottom of your 4 to 5inch scion, with 2 or 3 good buds above. 3. Cut a vertical slit in the tree’s bark, running down ¾ inch from where you cut the tree. Peel back the bark a little. 4. Slide the scion under the tree’s bark at the slit with the scion’s cut facing inward. Make sure it is right side up. 5. Do at least two scions per tree in case one doesn’t take. 6. Wrap tape around the top of the cut trunk and scions to hold the scions in place. 7. Coat the cut trunk, bark slits and cut scion tips with grafting compound or wax. 8. Label the graft with the name of the variety, date, etc.

Scionwood Sources

The nice thing is, once you have some trees going, you can harvest your own scionwood in January or February while the tree is dormant. Then, you store the sticks in the fridge in a bag with a little moist paper towel until you’re ready to use them.

WASHINGTON GARDENER ENEWS © 2014 Washington Gardener Magazine. All rights reserved.

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Washington Gardener Enews ~ April 2014  

This enewsletter is the sister publication of Washington Gardener Magazine. Both the print magazine and online enewsletter share the same mi...

Washington Gardener Enews ~ April 2014  

This enewsletter is the sister publication of Washington Gardener Magazine. Both the print magazine and online enewsletter share the same mi...

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