Grafting Advice and New Cultivars from SkillCult

I’m fast becoming a huge fan of Steven Edholm’s SkillCult website and in particular his blog posts about small-orchard-scale fruit tree care, management and breeding.

Recently Steven has posted some really good, solid advice pieces on grafting with skinny scion wood – something that comes up year after year – and also how to deal with scions that start sprouting before you’ve had a chance to graft them, which I’ve not encountered yet as most of my grafting sessions have been in February or March, but I’m sure will be hugely useful knowledge toi have for future reference.

Excitingly, Steven has also been running an apple breeding project for ten or eleven years now and earlier this year made scions of some of his new cultivars available for US growers to buy and graft. In a recent blog post he posted this video explaining the ethos of the project in depth:

I have to say I heartily agree with his principles, aims – (paraphrasing slightly here) “fostering an open source, collaborative community in the fruit enthusiast and collector realm” – and his methods. I would have loved to have bid for some of his scions when they went live on eBay last month – some of those new apples look superb – but of course, if only for biosecurity reasons it would have been irresponsible to ask Steven to send scions from the US to the UK.

Apple breeding is definitely something I’d like to do more of in future, and collaboration, even if only on a knowledge-sharing basis, with people like Steven (and I’m sure there must be many more of us around the world) is something I’m hoping to do a lot more of in future, just as soon as I have the time (and the growing space…)

Have you, or anyone else you know of already started a small-scale apple breeding project? Please, hit me up with website links, YouTube videos or general recommendations, via the comments.

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