Beaufort rootstocks on April 18. Note the widely different sizes of the plants.

I really wish I had not decided to use Beaufort rootstocks.  From germination to second-true-leaf stage, development of this F1 hybrid is wildly uneven. Since successful grafting relies on a pretty close match of rootstock and scion stem diameters, this has forced me to essentially start over with fresh batches of rootstocks and scions.

Readers may recall that I have to produce three batches of grafted seedlings, which will be distributed to three farms for field planting. Each batch will be accompanied by an identical quantity of ungrafted heirloom seedlings so we can get a fair comparison between the grafted and ungrafted plants–growth, production, and disease resistance.

Today I made a really tough decision. I am abandoning the batches already started — hundreds of rootstocks and heirlooms — and starting over.  I am rush-ordering fresh seed, and going back to the rootstock I used last year, Maxifort. It was more vigorous than I would have liked, but at least it produced equal-sized seedlings.

This puts me a month behind where I wanted to be. I’m not a happy camper right now, but I really had no choice if the project was to proceed.