These photos show apple trees being changed from one kind of apple to another. See the little leafy stub sticking out from the main stem of this tree? That stub will become the whole new top of the tree! Here, we’re working this switcheroo on about 1200 trees, through the magic of grafting.

The whole operation is a workaround that began in 2017. We planned to plant more acres of prime cider apple varieties, but could not obtain enough young trees of those varieties. The fields were ready to plant, so in went easily-available Golden Delicious and McIntosh trees. They have been growing good strong root systems for two years. This spring, it came time to graft in little pencil-sized “scions” – living sticks -- of Chisel Jersey, Dabinett, Ellis Bitter, Golden Russet, Major and Somerset Redstreak. Through careful cutting and tying, the growing (cambium) layer of each scion meets the cambium layer of the tree – and the two grow together.

The last step? Cut off the Mac and Delicious tops! Opinion differs on whether to do it now or leave the tops to “nurse” the new scions. Either way the little scions, powered by those strong root systems, will grow astonishingly fast – so we’ll have completed those cider plantings without relying on tree nurseries for special trees.

Strangest of all – grafting looks like magic but is not very difficult. Years ago, we were taught a lot about grafting by generous colleagues. But in the end, we learned most of what we know from R.J.Garner’s “The Grafter’s Handbook.” Garner’s book can teach anybody. So, if you need a new superpower, take a look!