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What is Stock and Scion?
Stock and scion are important terms in horticulture, particularly when it comes to grafting trees. Grafting is the process of joining two different plants together to create a single plant that shares the traits of both.
This technique is commonly used to produce fruit trees with desirable qualities, such as disease resistance, improved fruit size or flavour, and increased hardiness.
In grafting, the plant that provides the root system and lower portion of the stem is known as the stock, while the plant that provides the upper portion of the stem, including the branches and fruiting wood, is called the scion. The stock and scion are joined together in a process called union, which results in the creation of a new plant.
Let's take a closer look at what stock and scion are, and how they are used in grafting.
What is Stock?
The stock is the plant onto which the scion is grafted. It provides the root system and the lower portion of the stem. The stock is typically chosen for its vigour, hardiness, and disease resistance. It must also be closely related to the scion, as this will affect how well the two plants will grow together.
The stock is usually grown from seed or propagated vegetatively, depending on the species. For example, many fruit trees are grown from seed, while grapevines are usually propagated vegetatively from cuttings.
When choosing a stock, it's important to consider the characteristics of the scion. For example, if the scion is known to be susceptible to a certain disease, the stock should be chosen for its resistance to that disease. Similarly, if the scion is known to require a particular type of soil or climate, the stock should be chosen for its ability to thrive in those conditions.
What is Scion?
The scion is the plant that is grafted onto the stock. It provides the upper portion of the stem, including the branches and fruiting wood. The scion is chosen for its desirable characteristics, such as disease resistance, improved fruit size or flavor, or increased hardiness.
The scion is usually taken from a mature tree of the desired variety, and is typically a cutting about six to eight inches long. The cutting is taken during the dormant season, when the tree is not actively growing. It is important to take the cutting from a healthy tree, and to ensure that it is free of pests and disease.
Once the scion has been cut, it is typically stored in a cool, moist environment until it is ready to be grafted onto the stock. This helps to prevent the scion from drying out, and increases the chances of successful grafting.
The scion is attached to the stock using a variety of techniques, depending on the species and the desired outcome. The most common technique is called whip grafting, in which the scion and stock are joined at a diagonal angle to create a strong union.
Why is Grafting Used?
Grafting is used in horticulture for a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons is to produce fruit trees with desirable traits.
For example, a scion from a tree with particularly sweet fruit may be grafted onto a stock that is known for its hardiness and disease resistance. The resulting tree will have both desirable traits, and will produce fruit that is both sweet and disease-resistant.
Grafting is also used to propagate trees that are difficult to grow from seed. For example, some fruit trees may not produce viable seed, or may produce seed that does not grow true to type. By grafting a scion from a mature tree onto a suitable stock, it is possible to create a new tree that is genetically identical to the original.
In addition, grafting can be used to repair damaged trees or to shape them into specific forms. For example, if a tree has been damaged by disease or injury, a scion from a healthy tree may be grafted onto the damaged tree to help it recover. Similarly, if a tree is desired to have a specific shape or form, it may be grafted onto a stock that has the desired growth habit.
Grafting is also used in the production of ornamental plants. By grafting different varieties or species of plants together, it is possible to create unique and interesting plants that combine the desirable traits of each.
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