Grafting pears and apples onto quince

Grafting pears and apples onto quince

By Scott Hitchins

At our grafting days at Werribee Park Heritage Orchard, people often ask us about grafting pears and apples onto quince. Our usual answer is “You can, but only some types of pears & apples”. But when asked “Which types” our answer is “I don’t know”.

After a bit of Googling, I came across this article: http://www.orangepippintrees.com/articles/rootstocks-for-pears which deals with the issue quite clearly.

In summary, if you graft a compatible pear (they suggest Doyenne Du Comice) onto quince as an intergraft, you can then graft any pear variety onto that. For apples, the recommended intergraft is the variety Winter Banana.

What I think makes this interesting is that, for those of us who are always looking for ways to extend our self-sufficiency just a little bit further, it gives us a way to grow our own rootstock for our pome orchard: By planting an ungrafted quince, you should get a ready supply of rooted suckers to remove and pot-up.

Suckering can be encouraged by a bit of shallow disturbance with a spade anywhere in the root zone and cuttings will also strike readily.

You could have separate Doyenne Du Comice and Winter Banana trees but if space is at a premium, you could also have these grafted onto part of the quince, giving you all your pome rootstock needs on one tree.

At Werribee Park Heritage Orchard, we have an ancient grove of quince trees dating back to the late 1800’s and these provide us with a ready supply of suckers (quince A or C is unknown). While we still intend to use mostly commercial rootstock, we will certainly have a go at intergrafting onto quince stock and will probably graft up some 3-in-one home rootstock kits for sale to enthusiasts.

Does anyone have other suggestions for apple and pear varieties suitable as intergrafts? –and does anyone have access to scion wood for Winter Banana as we don’t have one in the orchard yet? It’s also worth noting that medlar, loquat and, most likely, crab apples will graft onto quince (any other fruit types to add to this?), giving you an easy way to set up your orchard of ancient fruits.