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I am contemplating purchasing a small fridge (or fridge freezer?) to help me with my horticulture (and maybe cheese making) endeavours - eg chilling seeds and stone fruit cuttings.

As I understand it I should be taking cuttings of my stone fruit and keeping them chilled over winter to graft in early spring? What temperature do the cuttings need to be kept at? (I'm interested in peaches, plums, nectarines etc - I believe I'm in zone 9B equivalent, so no cherries for me).

Is the situation similar for apple trees? (It occurs to me I have a well established crab apple tree I don't like - I assume I can graft apple scions onto it if I can find cuttings?)

I'm trying to work out if I need a fridge/freezer of if I can get away with just a fridge - and if so what temperature I need to keep it at.

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  • Great question. Chilling makes for fruiting, but why wait to graft? Wouldn't you want the freshest cuttings rather than aged, now or in March? Jan 6 at 23:47
  • @YosefBaskin I was taught by my Horticulture teacher that stone fruit grafts should always be done in spring just as the plant is waking up. Is that advice incorrect?
    – davidgo
    Jan 7 at 5:24
  • Spring is best. But why not just cut and graft then? Jan 7 at 14:19

2 Answers 2

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As I understand it I should be taking cuttings of my stone fruit and keeping them chilled over winter to graft in early spring? What temperature do the cuttings need to be kept at? (I'm interested in peaches, plums, nectarines etc.

-Stone fruits are native to subtropical part of the world. To preserve stone fruit cuttings, they need to be kept dormant. You should emphasize more on how many hours you should chill rather than at what temperature to chill. Chill temperature is not absolute and shouldn't be taken as science, but must be a mere estimate. Certain low chill varieties require lower chilling so they'll probably not survive being frozen to longer durations. That being said, stone fruits are dormant in temperature ranges of 4°C to 7°C (39.2F to 44.6F). So you should maintain a stable temperature between that range. Of course, many varieties can sustain temperatures below range of 3°C but they can succumb to frost damage. So higher than 4°C but less than 7°C is your best bet.

Is the situation similar for apple trees? (It occurs to me I have a well established crab apple tree I don't like - I assume I can graft apple scions onto it if I can find cuttings?)

-Yeah! Just that apples are far more frost tolerant and can survive negative temperatures as well. And yes, you can graft apples on crabapples they're basically the same plants (lie in the same genus i.e. Malus) but just apples were domesticated and selected on basis of their favored traits like a sweeter taste, less tartness etc.

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A fridge will do - no freezer required.

Maintaining temperature between 34-40 °F (or "normal refrigerator temperatures") is generally recommended. Source 1 Source 2 Source 3 Source 4

Keep anything that gives off ethylene gas (such as apples) out of the fridge with the scions.

You'll have to look for "low-chill" apple varieties to get not-crab-apples in zone 9. Scionwood can be ordered and shipped, though.

Waxing the ends of the scions and keeping the stored scions as long as convenient (so less cut end to overall scion length) are both suggested to limit drying out. When grafting, the scions can be cut shorter for use (thus one stored long scion becomes several shorter grafting scions at grafting time.) Keeping them sufficiently damp without turning into a mold factory by being too damp is also suggested.

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    Thank you for a great answer. (I accepted Jaypaets answer as it is also excellent and hopefully encourages participation)
    – davidgo
    Jan 6 at 18:11

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