Airdate: Mar 15, 2019
Scientist: Bill McKently
Cloning Apples the Old Fashioned Way
For some farmers, it's the best way to ensure that their favorite crops come back year after year.
Cloning Apples the Old Fashioned Wayambience: Grafting soundHeres a program from our archives.For years, apple growers have relied upon the process of grafting to ensure that the best quality apples keep coming back season after season. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet .Bill McKently is the owner of Saint Lawrence Nurseries in New York. We're listening to the sounds of him grafting apple trees. He's cutting a branch off one apple tree and carefully joining it to the detached root - the rook stock of another apple tree. By doing this, McKently can in effect, clone the apples that once grew on the tree the branch came from.McKently: If we wanted a Macintosh apple we go out and we cut these little sticks that you hear me cutting right now. And we store them over the winter. We cut them from the branches of a Macintosh tree or if it were a Yellow Delicious or a Granny Smith we would go to the appropriate trees and cut that wood and store it. And the whole process is to make more trees of that same variety.McKently makes a cut on the outside of the root stock, exposing the root's inner tissue. He then attaches the end of a branch to the root, winding a rubber band tightly around the joint to hold it together and using wax to keep the joint dry.McKently: After we put our grafts together, then we bundle them up and and we place them in sawdust in plastic bags, and then we let them sit at a temperature around 50, 55 degrees for sometimes upwards of a couple weeks. And what will happen is they'll form what is known as a callus tissue around the cut. I guess you could liken it as forming a scab over a wound.Roughly ninety percent of McKently's newly grafted trees will make it out to the fields to be planted in springtime and ultimately to produce their apples. This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. If you want hear more, check out our podcast. Im Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.