Friday, March 25, 2016

The Grafting Season has Arrived

With more reports of woodcock nestings I've ended my woodcock "runs" and am well into my bench grafting of apple and pear trees. I'm grafting 75 B118 rootstocks that will grow into a near full sized tree to be planted in the Back40, 25 G30 rootstocks which will produce a semi-dwarf tree about half as big as a full sized tree which will be planted in the Home Orchard and the Mam & Pap Orchard which is located on 10 acres of ajoining  ground that I had bought from my grandparents, and 10 OHxF 97 pear rootstocks which will mature into a full sized tree also for the Back40. The scion wood which I graft to the rootstock are mostly heirloom varieties with names like Betsy Deaton, Dixie Red Delight, and Black Limbertwig is name just a few.  I also have some scion wood from the USDA experimental orchard in Geneva, New York that came from the central Asian country of Kazakhstan which is where the domestic apple originated. I still find the "art" of grafting a miracle of nature with the binding together of two pieces of wood turning into a fruit tree.
The wild crabs are starting to leaf out telling me it's time to do some limb grafting.

I grafted some Crandall scion to this wild crab. Crandall was developed by crossing Rome Beauty and Jonathon at the University of Illinois in 1914. It's described as a dessert and cooking apple. Keeps well in storage thru April.  Tree is productive, comes into bearing early and relatively disease resistance.
I use toilet bowl ring wax to seal the graft and tip of the scion from drying out. It's about 1/10 as expensive as named grafting wax and works just as well.
The trees on my trellis that are grafted to Bud 9 rootstock are starting to open their buds. Bud 9 is noted for producing early budding trees and I guess mine prove it.

The trees grafted to G41 are still dormant.
These dwarf trees should be in full production in 2 to 3 years. I can't wait to enjoy the varieties I've got planted.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Vanishing Gypsies

The woodcock have seemed to have moved through in one big rush to their northern nesting grounds. I've only been able to move a handful on our last several trips afield. Yesterday Emma and Thicket and I traveled north to Lake Raystown. With it long stretches of hawthorn and alder bottoms it should draw in the woodcock, but I've never been able to find many birds there and it held true yesterday.

 As luck would have it I walked up the first two birds and we were well through the bottoms before Emma finally found one.

I've heard reports of a hen on a nest to the north of me so my woodcock outings will soon end for this spring.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Troubles with Thicket

Last fall Thicket began to leave or ignore woodcock. I'm afraid to say that she's starting the spring season the same way. I had her out the other day and she pointed and left one point and then simply ran past and through the other woodcock we moved. Today I took her with Emma to see if I could get her excited about woodcock.  Emma had several points that I was able to walk Thicket in and flush the bird. After several of these experiences Thicket did point a woodcock right in front of me. Not giving her time to back away from the point I hurried in flushed the bird for her, giving her some excited GOOD GIRL praises. Hopefully I'll be able to find places to run them together this spring and get Thicket excited again about woodcock.

It's full of barberry and multiflora rose but I never get tired of walking the Piney Creek Covert.

One of Emma's points.
Thicket enjoying her time in the woods.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Walk Along Piney Creek

Took Thicket and headed for the Piney Creek covert on Monday. With the stream at spring flow I couldn't cross it so only walked the cover bordering the old dirt road that runs parallel with the cover.

I saw one woodcock flush ahead of her just after she entered the covert. I couldn't tell if she had bumped it or not.  Later on I walked into two different birds. Thicket hunted the cover thoroughly but couldn't find any more birds.  So we ended the day without any points but still it was a good day in the woods knowing the woodcock were moving north.  Today (Wednesday) the temperature is holding at 27 degrees and the wind is blowing smartly. The forecast is for warmer temps next week so we will try again for the first point of the year.