Sense of losing time controls the rhythm of our existence. Being impatient creatures, we are continually replacing long notes with short notes in the song of life. When we realised that trees raised from seeds would take anywhere between 3-8 years to bear fruit, we volunteered to join the impatient lot.
The biorhythm for a seed is to takes few weeks to become a sapling. Saplings to take two or three years to grow into a shrub. A shrub to take few more years to become a tree. As in the case of animals which grow into a mature adult before they can reproduce, the fruit-bearing age for a tree is when it is strong enough to stand the weight of the fruits.
We would have resigned to the above fact but for sighting of 2-3 foot tall trees(plants really) in a nursery bearing fruits. How did nursery create a fruit on toddler of a tree? This precocity is a product of human intervention called Stem Grafting. Stem Grafting involves taking a healthy sapling with well-established roots and attaching a branch of the desired adult plant. The host plant with the roots is called stock, and transplanted part is called scion. Once the tissue heals around the attachment and fuses, the scion continues to grow as an adult! The grafted plant having skipped the adolescent phase completely, starts to flower & fruit as per the reproductive cycle of the scion. Nearly all of the horticultural crops today are grafted, the fruit-bearing typically starts from the following year of planting.
Educated with this, we went to the nursery capital of Dharmapuri & Krishnagiri called Santoor. At Santoor, you get every type of tree that can grow in our climate but Mango is the king of this Jungle. Santoor is Changez Khan when it comes to spreading Mango genes. Legacy of Santoor is so big that we would not be entirely wrong if we say nearly all of the plantation in Krishnagiri and Dharmapuri would have some Santoor connection.
We were curious to learn how grafting works and nursery owner was more than happy to show around. Grafting activity is centered around a mother plant which is cut to a stump. These stumps sport new branches as shown below when right nutrients are provided. Each of these branches would be destined to be scions of a glorious tree one day, thanks to Grafting.
Grafting starts by carefully shaving off the bark of nascent branches and attaching it with similarly shaved stem of a sapling raised from seed. Within weeks plant tissues heal and fuse around the grafted spot.
Once the healing is complete, connection with the mother plant is cut, leaving the newly fused scion on the stock.
This is the general procedure from here on it is left to the imagination and our ability to refine. In the picture is an example of using Grafting to change the characteristics of a fully grown tree! Zoom the picture and notice two varieties of mangoes on either side.