Workers harvest two-year-old Honeycrisp trees at C&O Nursery in Quincy, Washington.
Bench graft: Starts out as a rootstock, with the rootstock taken out of the layer bed in November and bench grafted with scion wood between January and April. Bench grafts are delivered for planting after the last spring frost. Bench-graft trunks will be about 14 to 16 inches tall, with the top four inches being the scion wood. Rootstock choice must be made before they are dug, and the scion variety must be determined before the bench grafts are made. Bench grafts give growers more time to decide the scion/rootstock combination, but are the most sensitive to environmental and horticultural practices in the orchard.
Sleeping eye: Starts out as a rootstock planted in the nursery a year ahead of the delivery date. The rootstock is budded with scion wood around August, grows the rest of the season, and is cut to the scion bud and dug up for delivery the next spring. Delivered dormant, it can be planted like a bare-rooted tree. Trunk will be about five to six inches long, with the variety at the top and an extensive root system. Rootstock decisions must be made a year prior, with scion decisions made several months after the rootstock decision.
Standard: finished tree: Follows the same path of a sleeping eye—rootstock planted in spring, budded in August, cut back—then allowed to grow for one more year before digging up the following November for dormant delivery in the spring. Low branches are usually removed to allow for good branch placement; trunk diameter is half an inch or larger, with extensive root system and multiple feathers or branches. Needs to be ordered two years in advance of delivery.
Knipboom tree: Begins as a bench graft grown in the nursery the first year. The next spring, trees are cut back to desired height and the central leader established, and then dug that fall for delivery in late winter-early spring. Growth is better than with a standard tree because of a strong root system, thicker caliper trunk, and increased branching. Needs to be ordered two years in advance of delivery.
Potted trees: Popular with grape and nut growers, potted pome and stone fruit trees are grown and budded in the greenhouse. Decisions about rootstock and scion wood must be made only about four to five months before delivery in the spring, but transportation costs of shipping dirt are expensive, and the sensitive green tissue must be planted late in the spring after the last frost. Another concern is the root system that is crammed into a five- or six-inch pot.