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bada_bing

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Reply with quote  #1 
I'm just back from my latest work trip and I've got something to share that was waiting when I got home. On last year's Encanto cutting distribution, I was lucky enough to get a couple Black Madeira cuttings. In spite of my best efforts, they died hard ... lol. Never put on a single root or leaf. This year, I again was lucky enough to get Black Madeira. Like a kid at christmas, I had a list but BM was the only thing that came through, which is okay because it is what I really wanted. After my miserable showing last year, I was a little intimidated and the cuttings sat in the vegetable crisper waiting for me to get some courage. I finally decided to risk grafting instead of trying to root them. I have some experience and all the tools for grafting, but just not on figs. I also had a couple of tissue culture brown turkey's from wellspring gardens that were languishing in 1 gallon pots. Match made in heaven. I cleft grafted the BM cuttings onto the BT roots 19 days ago before I left for work. When I returned on Saturday, I actually have Proof of Life. Not out of the woods yet, but all three grafts (I cut one BM cutting in two, one BT had two stocks) are showing signs of bud break. Woohoo. 


On a sadder note, I had to declare the CdDG cuttings I had been trying to root officially dead. They had broken bud and put on a root or two, but they stalled and succumbed to mold. I suck at rooting valuable cuttings :( . If/when I get another chance with CdDG, I'll graft, not root. I'm buying some more of those cheap tissue culture figs from Hirt's or Wellspring to have some rootstock on hand. Anyone have an opinion of which variety they sell would make the most vigorous rootstock ?

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bada_bing in Tucson, zone 9a
or at work in Prudhoe bay, I don't think the zones go that low
My in ground trees: VdB, Panache 
My potted figs : Vista, RdB, Strawberry verte, Atreano, Black Madeira
Tissue culture plants: Hardy Chicago, "Blue" Ischia, Desert King, LSU Purple, Kadota, Celeste  
Hope to find: CdDx, Maltese Beauty, BlacK Ischia, desert adapted figs
Memento357

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Reply with quote  #2 
That's awesome! Glad it worked out for you. I grafted a CdDB this year that I got from UCD (choped in half since I only had one cutting) and it showed signs of life within a month. The other part of the cutting I potted and it also rooted. :D I also did a Black Madeira and that has grown really well also. Both times I used a Brown Turkey as the root-stock. BT is a very vigorous grower, that is why I chose that root-stock, and I had them lying around from cuttings I grew last year. Cheers!
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Wish List: RdB, Nero 600, Negronne, JH Adriatic
Currently Growing: Black Mission, Brown Turkey, Kadota, Conadria, Black Madeira
Current Rooted Cuttings: Excel, Ischia White, Genoa White, White Texas, Ischia Green, Blanquette, Col De Dame Blanc, VdB
FiggyFrank

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Reply with quote  #3 
Great work guys!  Looking forward to future results!
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Frank
zone 7a - VA
bada_bing

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Reply with quote  #4 
I'm bringing this back up because I'm wondering if anyone has any input on what fig variety(s) offered for sale by Hirts or Wellspring gardens would make the best candidates for grafting rootstocks. The reasons I'm interested in their offerings instead of using my own cuttings are:

1.They are supposed to be little tissue culture plants. I'm interested in the claim they may be clean of virus because of being tissue cultures. I've bought from both nurseries before, but only a couple of their varieties. They do appear clean as I've seen no sign of FMV on the ones I have so far, but I know that doesn't prove anything. I also realize any scion I get to graft on them is going to be infected even if the rootstock is clean. I just wonder if starting with clean rootstock wouldn't be an advantage by preventing the mixing of infections when grafting onto rooted cuttings? Seems like many of the hard to root varieties are problems partly because they already have a pretty good virus load.

2. I'm interested in the idea that the root structure of tissue culture plants is different from cutting propagated plants and is more seedling like. In citrus it is pretty well established that rooted cuttings are inferior to seedling rootstock for this reason. Of course citrus is a lot different from figs and has the advantage of producing genetic (polyembryonic) clones from seedlings, which makes seeds a no-brainer for citrus rootstock production. An interesting side question: It seems like very few if any of the fig growers here on the forum, even those with lots of experience, have had much experience with fig trees started from seeds rather than cuttings. Does anyone think there are any real differences, especially in the early years, between seedling vs cutting vs TC fig plants?

Anyway, the varieties offered by Wellspring and Hirts include:
Celeste
LSU Purple
Brown Turkey
Hardy Chicago
Green Ischia
Desert King
Olympian
Blue Ischia
Texas Everbearing
Black Mission
Magnolia
Lattarula
Kadota
VdB

I want to buy 6-10 little plants of one or two varieties of the above to grow out into rootstock to have on hand for next spring. The characteristics that would be desirable are high vigor and root growth, low tendency to sucker, and being adapted to my Arizona desert climate.   

One variety I'm interested in is LSU purple because Frozen Joe commented on how vigorous it is in one of his videos. He is located in a nearly identical climate. The Hardy Chicago and Blue Ischia plants I bought last August are doing very well now and could make good candidates. Anyone have an opinion on the rest of the list?

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bada_bing in Tucson, zone 9a
or at work in Prudhoe bay, I don't think the zones go that low
My in ground trees: VdB, Panache 
My potted figs : Vista, RdB, Strawberry verte, Atreano, Black Madeira
Tissue culture plants: Hardy Chicago, "Blue" Ischia, Desert King, LSU Purple, Kadota, Celeste  
Hope to find: CdDx, Maltese Beauty, BlacK Ischia, desert adapted figs
GeneDaniels

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Reply with quote  #5 
I have a Green Ischia from Wellspring, it is still young, but very health and seems to be virus free
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Zone 7b (Central Arkansas) Trees in the ground: Hardy Chicago, Celeste(?), Italian Black, Sicilian, Strawberry Verte, and Unk yellow.  Tree in pots: CdD
bada_bing

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Reply with quote  #6 

Update: a month since last report and 7 weeks since grafting. Both Black Madeira grafts are progressing. I haven't removed the remnants of the rubber bands and parafilm yet, but the grafts are well fused. Both are still under the patio roof, still in one gallon pots and being babied. They only get about 1 hour of direct sun in the morning and bright indirect light the rest of the day. It's getting hot here now, so I don't think I'll move them to a brighter location until maybe september. I'm pretty happy with their progress, considering I killed every BM cutting I've tried to root. Hopefull they will be big enough to air layer off the brown turkey roots and be established before it's time to go dormant. Figs go dormant about December 1 around here.

As always, any pointers for obvious screw ups are welcome.
BM graft 2.jpg  BM graft.jpg 

I bought 6 LSU purple tissue cultures from wellspring and have potted them up to size them up for rootstocks for next winters cuttings. I choose LSU purple based on how vigorous Frozen Joe mentioned it being in his similar climate. Maybe first timers luck, but I found figs to be an easy graft, healing and growing much faster than citrus or stone fruit.



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bada_bing in Tucson, zone 9a
or at work in Prudhoe bay, I don't think the zones go that low
My in ground trees: VdB, Panache 
My potted figs : Vista, RdB, Strawberry verte, Atreano, Black Madeira
Tissue culture plants: Hardy Chicago, "Blue" Ischia, Desert King, LSU Purple, Kadota, Celeste  
Hope to find: CdDx, Maltese Beauty, BlacK Ischia, desert adapted figs
DesertDance

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Reply with quote  #7 
I think any aggressively growing fig you don't really like would make a good rootstock for grafting.  Look at the Frankenfig thread here.  Don't have a link, but that dude has grafted many varieties.  I can't explain.  You must see his photos.  Just search for Frankenfig.

Suzi

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coop951

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Reply with quote  #8 
I also had problems rooting the Black Madiera I received this year from Encanto. I did well with others but that and a St Rita didnt make it. I only had 1 of each of course.
I bought a VdB from Wellspring at the end of last year and it is coming up nicely after spending the winter in my unheated NJ garage. The 2 stems that are in there are very very thin. Maybe 1/8" but growing. I just pinched them at 5th leaf and will see how that works out.
Good luck with the graft. Very interesting approach.

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Coop  
Northern NJ Zone 7a
GeneDaniels

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Reply with quote  #9 
I have bought both Hardy Chicago and Green Ischia from WellSprings and they have been good plants. The HC is a very healthy 3 year old and the GI is just coming out of the winter but looks really good.

Sorry about the typeing, I am three classes of wine intot the envening and I am ready for bed.


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Zone 7b (Central Arkansas) Trees in the ground: Hardy Chicago, Celeste(?), Italian Black, Sicilian, Strawberry Verte, and Unk yellow.  Tree in pots: CdD
jdsfrance

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Reply with quote  #10 
Hi bada_bing,
As long as it works, then this is a good method .

But, one question : Why don't you make your own rootstock ?
I mean, you could buy two or three trees more, and let them grow .
Then in one or two years, you'll have almost all the cuttings you want to root and make rootstock from the original tc tree without buying each single rootstock.

another question: Why airlayer the graft right away ? I would let it grow two or three years on the rootstock, and then airlayer some branches.
This way you'll be able to compare which "Black madeira" performs better - the grafted or the one on own roots.

If you choose a strong grower for rootstock, the result should be a quicker growing black madeira stem .
On some trees, dwarfing rootstocks are preferred. In the list, "Magnolia" is a small grower.
I would use Brownturkey as the rootstock for its cold hardiness - you don't want to loose the top part of a grafted tree ...

But, those trees being tc, they could be performing differently.
So as you say that they are worth the cost, I honestly (would buy some more land) would buy one tree of each strain and see which one performs the best.
Just to be sure, because of the tc process, that I wouldn't get bad surprises, like lets say a weaker BT- or a less coldhardy BT or ...

The figtrees are propagated by cuttings because it is the best way to keep the characteristics of the mother tree - although sometimes, this is questionable...My test on that point is ongoing .

For the question about seedlings, do you think you know what patience means? Really ? Then go through seedlings and tell me afterwards.
Seedlings are weak and softy. For mine started on december 2013, they range in height from 2 centimeters to 10 centimeters - I have 15 still struggling for life.
I already twice tried to set some outside or on a window's sill inside... Well they are back under my grow lights with sun burned leaves...
Patience, patience ...

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Climate from -25°C to + 35°C
Only cold hardy figtrees can make it here
bada_bing

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Posts: 59
Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeneDaniels
I have bought both Hardy Chicago and Green Ischia from WellSprings and they have been good plants. The HC is a very healthy 3 year old and the GI is just coming out of the winter but looks really good.


Do you have much fruit setting on your HC or green Ischia ? I have a HC and 2 blue Ischia that I got as tiny TC from Hirts last september. They are now 3 foot tall, extremely vigorous and almost as big as my biggest rooted cuttings from Jan 2013. They haven't set much fruit though, only a couple on HC and nothing on blue Ischia.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdsfrance
Hi bada_bing,
As long as it works, then this is a good method .

But, one question : Why don't you make your own rootstock ?
I mean, you could buy two or three trees more, and let them grow .
Then in one or two years, you'll have almost all the cuttings you want to root and make rootstock from the original tc tree without buying each single rootstock.


I considered using some rooted cuttings I have for rootstock. The two possible advantages I see for using TC plants is 
(1.) they may be more vigorous (juvenile) during their first year or two than a rooted cutting.
(2.) they may have reduced or even eliminated FMV. One of the downsides to fig grafting I see is the mixing of FMV strains in the plants. If TC roots don't have FMV, they can't increase the virus load on the resulting trees.

 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdsfrance

another question: Why airlayer the graft right away ? I would let it grow two or three years on the rootstock, and then airlayer some branches.
This way you'll be able to compare which "Black madeira" performs better - the grafted or the one on own roots.


I don't know if I'll air layer the tops off both grafts yet. It depends on how well they do and how many black madeira trees I need. Right now I have one black madeira rooted cutting going into its second summer and the two recent grafted black madeira on BT roots. I probably will keep one as a grafted plant to compare.

I'm a new fig enthusiast with not much experience. I have grown citrus and stonefruit as a hobby for about 10 years. I'm puzzled by the lack of use of grafting and rootstock selection on such an ancient, diverse and widespread cultivar like figs. Even tomatoes and cucumbers are widespread grafted these days.

I've been reading on tissue culture methods for the home gardener and I will try to establish some fig cultures soon, just as a hobby attempt. I also have been reading about using heat treatments on tissue cultures to eliminate plant virus. If I can get good viable cultures I'm going to attempt this as well, just as an exercise. I've done sterile culture work before in school, but never on plant material.

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bada_bing in Tucson, zone 9a
or at work in Prudhoe bay, I don't think the zones go that low
My in ground trees: VdB, Panache 
My potted figs : Vista, RdB, Strawberry verte, Atreano, Black Madeira
Tissue culture plants: Hardy Chicago, "Blue" Ischia, Desert King, LSU Purple, Kadota, Celeste  
Hope to find: CdDx, Maltese Beauty, BlacK Ischia, desert adapted figs
cis4elk

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Reply with quote  #12 
Hi Bada,

Thanks for posting this.
 
I just wanted to encourage you to keep one grafted for comparison. Several members that have had Black Mad for some time say that the root system is generally weak when compared to other fig trees of similar ages. You may just end up with a stronger, faster growing tree that bears more fruit with a grafted Black Mad.

Oh, and please continue with the updates.

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Wants List: For everyone to clean-up after themselves and co-exist peacefully. Let's think more about the future of our planet and less about ourselves.  :)
bada_bing

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Reply with quote  #13 

Here's my end of the season update on my grafting experiment. My fig trees here probably have almost a month left before they go dormant, but things are cooling off. Night time temps have dropped into the high 40's the last few days. Still getting some figs. I'm thinking about oiling a bunch of figs on my Panache because they don't seem to want to ripen. That's a different post question though.

I repotted my Black Madeira grafts back in May from one gallon pots to 5 gallon bucket SIPs. The brown turkey rootstocks suckered a couple times, but I kept removing the suckers to encourage scion growth. In the last couple months the suckering has lessened a lot. The grafts did pretty well in their first year and it's an interesting comparison between the grafted Black Madeira and a rooted cutting Black Madeira I have.  I didn't get any fruit off the grafts this first year, but I got a handful off the rooted cutting, so some of the growth potential of the rooted cutting may have been used on fruit instead. Some pix:

 
Above is a picture of one of the Black Madeira on Brown Turkey grafts, about 4 foot tall now. I let it grow as a single stock and didn't pinch it because I didn't want to encourage rootstock suckering. Next year I'll try to encourage some branching. One interesting thing is the scion took on similar internode distances to what the Brown Turkey rootstock would have had. The leaves are undeniably Black Madeira, but the growth habit is remarkably like Brown Turkey. It doesn't have the stunted, gnarly, tight internode distance habit of Black Madeira at all.


Above is a picture of the graft union. I used cleft grafts. The graft union has healed and isn't very noticable at all. This is my first try at grafting figs, but I've grafted quite a few citrus and plum/nectarine/peach trees. Fig grafts seem to heal much faster and more completely than other trees I've worked on. So far I'd say Figs are the easiest graft to succeed with I've tried, but I've generally had good luck with all the grafting I've tried. I suck at rooting figs though and have lost some valuable cuttings in the past.



Above is a size comparison between a grafted Black Madeira (left) and a rooted Black Madeira cutting (right). My pictures aren't the best, but some of the differences in growth habit are easily noticed. The cutting was rooted last fall and spent a couple months dormant on my back porch last winter. The graft was made in early April, so the rooted cutting has a 6-7 month headstart. The cutting made a 1/2 dozen fruit, the graft made  nothing.


I consider the experiment a big success so far. I don't have enough examples of both grafted verses rooted to prove that the grafts gain vigor and growth rate from the rootstock, but it certainly looks like it. I didn't expect to see the amount of difference in growth habit, so that's interesting. The next year will be very interesting to see what kind of fruiting I get. Both the grafts and rooted BM should be coming into more productive ages.

This coming spring I hope to do some more grafts. I bought some LSU purple and Celeste tissue culture plants back in May for use as rootstocks and they have been sizing up in one gallon pots. They ought to be just about right for grafting in the spring. I hope to find some CdDG and Ischia Black cuttings on Ebay for a reasonable price sometime this winter. Unfortunately I don't have any more Brown Turkey rootstock plants going, so whatever I do this winter won't be absolutely comparable to this years grafting experiment. 


__________________
bada_bing in Tucson, zone 9a
or at work in Prudhoe bay, I don't think the zones go that low
My in ground trees: VdB, Panache 
My potted figs : Vista, RdB, Strawberry verte, Atreano, Black Madeira
Tissue culture plants: Hardy Chicago, "Blue" Ischia, Desert King, LSU Purple, Kadota, Celeste  
Hope to find: CdDx, Maltese Beauty, BlacK Ischia, desert adapted figs
Ampersand

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Reply with quote  #14 
Very nice work. Have you considered air layering the Black Madeira now so it is on it's own roots or will you leave it on the rootstock? In my cold climate I'd be worried about dieback to the graft union, even in pots.
bada_bing

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Reply with quote  #15 
I was going to air layer the BM grafts onto their own roots, but not so much from concern about freezing. Tuscon is zone 9A and in my backyard microclimate I haven't froze the top off of any fig tree yet. I struggle a bit with Citrus on colder winters but dormant figs are trouble free.

The reason I have reconsidered airlayering onto their own roots is that the homemade SIP buckets I used allow a good examination of the root growth of plants in them . A vigorous fig requires a quick root prune twice a year to keep from filling up the lower water chamber with roots. The Brown Turkey rootstocks have roots that are vigorous and have needed a couple prunings. My rooted cutting Black Madeira does not have vigorous roots and hasn't needed a root prune yet even though it's over a year old. The differences in growth rate of roots is even more pronounced than the top growth between the grafts and the cutting. I think I'm going to leave the grafts alone for at least another year to watch what happens. I'm wondering about things like if suckering will become less of a hassle as the grafts mature and if the grafts might show any incompatibility or rejection after a few years.

My yard space is pretty full with plants, but I think I may try to make room for one of the grafts to go in ground next spring to see if I can get it to really put on some growth.

__________________
bada_bing in Tucson, zone 9a
or at work in Prudhoe bay, I don't think the zones go that low
My in ground trees: VdB, Panache 
My potted figs : Vista, RdB, Strawberry verte, Atreano, Black Madeira
Tissue culture plants: Hardy Chicago, "Blue" Ischia, Desert King, LSU Purple, Kadota, Celeste  
Hope to find: CdDx, Maltese Beauty, BlacK Ischia, desert adapted figs
cis4elk

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Reply with quote  #16 
Good job! Very interesting results, thanks for reporting.
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Wants List: For everyone to clean-up after themselves and co-exist peacefully. Let's think more about the future of our planet and less about ourselves.  :)
deerhunter16b

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Reply with quote  #17 
Good job...
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HarveyC

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Reply with quote  #18 
Thanks for the update, your results are similar to what I've had with my BM on BT.
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Harvey - Correia Farms
Isleton, CA (Sacramento County) USDA zone 9b, Sunset zone 14

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