There are vast differences between grafted fruit trees and seed-grown fruit trees. Learn why you don t get true-to-name fruit by planting seeds. Have you ever wondered why you can t always grow a true-to-name fruit tree from planting seeds? Folks oftenPask if it s possible toPtakePthe seeds from an apple, plant them, and grow trees that yield the same exact type of apples the seeds came from. Unfortunately, for most fruit trees*, this isn t quite how it works. To explain, we ll start by addressing the history contained in seeds and why it sPmore reliable to plant and grow grafted fruit trees. *There are exceptions that tend to have very little variation even as seed-grown trees, like
PandP. We ll use Pfor example here. Most apple treesPare not self-fertile. This means they need another different apple tree blooming nearby (at the same time) to pollinate the blossoms that in turn become the fruit. So, if you had a, you would need a different apple variety, like aP,Pto pollinate it. From one tree to the other, the male flower parts genetic material pollinates the female parts of the flowers (with the help of bees, wind, etc. ). The end result is fruit development in both mature apple trees. This cross-pollination is sexual reproduction in fruit trees. Even if a fruit-tree variety is considered to be self-pollinating, it is still receptive of other pollen and the seeds of its fruit end up withPall the history from past generations of bothPparentPtrees. The results of cross-pollination occur in the seeds, not the fruit. This is whyPcross-pollination can occur in your fruitPtree s flowers and not affect the color or appearance of the tree s developing fruit.
The fruit is merely a vessel for the seeds. The seeds are what carry a history of traits from the parent tree and its pollination partner(s). That s a lot of potential, but it s also unpredictable. If you were to plant the seed from a Honeycrisp apple, the resulting apple tree and its futurePfruitPmay display characteristics from anywhere in its lineage. The tree or its fruit may be similar to Honeycrisp or they may be throwbacks from somewhere in itsPgenetic history, but because they camePfrom seed theyPwill not become a true Honeycrisp apple tree or true Honeycrisp apples. One dependablePway to ensure that the desired characteristics are maintained in subsequentPfruit trees is throughPgrafting. Grafting involves taking a scion or bud chip cut from the desired parent tree (for example, a Granny SmithPapple tree) and physicallyPplacing it onto a compatible rootstock. The varietyPand the rootstock are calloused, or grownPtogether, as the tree heals. All suckers are removed from the rootstock, and the Granny SmithPscion is allowed to grow into the new tree, thus maintaining its Granny Smith identity. This process is called asexual reproduction. Since only one parent/variety is involved in this process, the grafted tree will be true-to-name and a true-to-name tree bears true-to-name fruit. Most of Stark Bro s trees are either propagated through grafting by joiningPa scion and rootstock together or through budding. Budding involves placing a single vegetative bud into the side of the rootstock and wrapping it with cellophane tape until it heals together.
The results of grafting and budding are the same: a true-to-name tree. A grafted tree is consistent and has a reliable history of characteristics. It has a track record: It blooms at a certain time. It bears fruit at a certain time. It has predictable traits like disease-resistance or cold-hardiness. ItsPfruit can be expected to be a certain size, quality, andPvariety. See the consistency in size and shape of these grafted fruit trees? With this in mind, I will always recommend you plant trees that were propagated through grafting or budding methods. It s worth the investment to know exactly what you re getting! Elmer Kidd, Stark Bro s Chief Production Officer (retired) I think there\’s a bit of misconception here. especially the difference between HOME apple growing and Commercial apple growing. Remember that every single apple grown came from a seed. and that the vast majority of apples grown until the last 75 years or so were grown out from seed. First. Yes – Apples are not true to seed. so if you want a Granny Smith – then you have to graft it. Second. If you want a tree that does not grow up into a giant tree the size of an Oak or Hickory tree – you probably want to graft it onto a dwarfing rootstock. Now the counter side. If the apple was grown in an orchard full of other eating apples – then there is a good chance it was pollinated by another eating apple. and the seed will produce an eating apple. Many seedlings have fruit with very little acid and in consequence they are very sweet and insipid.
This type is quite unacceptable. Fruit may have a strongly aromatic or distinct aniseseed-like flavor and, while these may prove to be good home garden apples, they are not acceptable as commercial apples for large scale production because such flavors are not universally liked. The connoisseur who likes the subtle flavor of some apples will no doubt grow his own. Notice the importance of flavors that are generally accepted for Commercial Apples and the counter against the flavors preferred by the Connoisseur. Since your seed came from Granny Smith – it at least has 1 parent that contains a good amount of Acid. rather than if they were Golden delicious or Red delicious seeds. That will help stack the deck in your favor. Good flavor is a peculiarly personal thing. Since the fruit must have a more or less universal appeal, fruits with distinct, particularly aromatic flavors are only for the connoisseur. A pleasant but undistinguished flavor is regrettably the answer – following the maxim that most will like that which has nothing to dislike. Notice the importance of a Pleasant but undistinguished flavor in commercial breeding. and that is exactly what you get for the most part. Something that very few people will DISLIKE – not something that a group of people will intensely like. So. Plant out your seeds. You will definitely get an Apple tree. and it may well bear in 5-8 years You will probably get something worth eating. You might get something you really, really like.