Talkin' Fruit Trees: Is Planting a Sucker a Good Idea?
A few months ago I talked about planting seeds for fruit trees. Today on social media I saw a recommendation for something you hear about much less frequently. This involves removing the suckers that grow around a fruit tree and transplanting them with a bit of root still attached. Now I won’t lie, this is a perfectly legitimate way to get a tree. That is, if you are not too interested in fruit.
Fruit Trees Grown from Suckers Won't Produce the Fruit You Were ExpectingNow I am sure that someone is going to chastise me for being against experimentation, but the bigger reality is that I am against useless experimentation. A quick perusal of reliable information gathered from state Cooperative Extension websites, plant providers, and reputable books will clearly show what the results of the experiment will be: genetic clones of the root the plant came from. Please note that again, the resulting plant will be a clone of the root of the mother plant. This can be very successful if you are trying to grow a wood plant that rarely or never is grafted to a rootstock, particularly shrubs like currants, raspberries, or goji berries. Tree fruits on the other hand are almost always grafted onto roots that are chosen for their qualities as a root rather than their fruit. A few have been noted as having good fruit, but most have already been rejected as a producing crop because they aren’t good to eat.
Trust Proven Techniques, But Feel Free to ExperimentNow I suppose you can experiment with something where the results have long been established if you are trying to learn technique or a new line of inquiry, but if you are looking to have a productive foodscape, especially if you are on a city lot, it is better to go with something tried and true. In today’s homegrown food world there seems to be a bit of animosity to the proven techniques and plants. I think this is especially true of the tree crops that can successfully provide quality crops for decades.
Learn What Rootstocks & Varieties Do Best in Your Climate & Soil TypeIf you are going to plant fruit trees that you expect to be reliable food sources you should choose trees that produce fruits you already know you enjoy or that are noted as having similar flavor. Choose trees that are also the right size for the area that you are planting them and are grafted to rootstocks that are known for their wide adaptability or are specifically adapted to your soils and climate. The climate compatibility should also be looked at for the fruit variety as well, as not all varieties do well in all areas. This is especially true for a country with as many climates and shear landmass as the United States.
What it comes down to is that if you want quality fruit on a budget you need to do your research and decide what will work best for you then look around and find the best price and quality for the options you are looking at. And remember, getting a cheap price on something often means you will get cheap, inferior quality.