How to Clone Fruit Trees

Cloning fruit trees has been done for years. The basic process is to cut a cleft in one tree and insert a branch from another. It allows farmers to produce fruit that is genetically identical to the parent, ensuring the desired traits in each generation of fruit. Additionally, cloning, also know as grafting, enables growers to create new varieties of fruits that can resist pests or simply taste better. Cloned trees also bear fruit much sooner than trees grown traditionally from seeds. A cloned tree will bear fruit within two to three years, whereas seed-grown trees take five to 10 years.

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Inspect the parent fruit tree. Be sure that it has all the characteristics that you want to grow for future generations. Look for size, quality and hardiness. Of course in the case of fruit trees, you'll also want to choose the best-tasting fruit as well.

Take a "cutting" or branch from the parent tree that has three to five buds. Cut to a blunt wedge-shape so that the lowest bud of the cutting will be right above the cut. The leaf growth from this bud will allow for rapid healing of the cleft in the grafted tree.

Create a cleft in an existing fruit tree. The rootstock should be approximately 2 to 7 centimeters in diameter to ensure the right amount of tension. Simply saw across the direction of growth at a spot that is free of knots or competing branches. Then split a cleft about 7-centimeters long down the center of the rootstock. Any characteristics of the parent fruit will be passed on above the point where the cutting is grafted onto the rootstock. For example, if you take a cutting from a pear tree with soft, green pears, and graft it onto rootstock from a tree with hard, red pears, the new cloned tree will give you soft, green pears above the spot where you grafted the parent branch.

Open the cleft with a screwdriver and insert the cutting. Place the cutting deep enough into the cleft so that the lowest bud sits right above the top of the cleft. To ensure the tightness of the graft, wrap PVC or duct tape around the existing tree to lock in the cutting.

Fill in the gap left in the cleft with grafting compound. Be sure the cleft is fully covered to ensure a successful graft.


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