Reshaping an old cherry tree

Does anyone have any suggestions for how I can reshape a very old (Victorian I guess), very tall, sweet cherry tree - or alternatively propagate from it. It's too tall to pick the cherries without a hoist (which I don't have) and too tall to try airlayering as a means of propagation. I would like to try to persuade the tree to throw out some new shoots below the current ones and above the rootstock. Is there any way of persuading the tree to do this?
I would also like to propagate from it. I have taken some softwood cuttings now - and will try to graft on to rootstocks in a few weeks. Any tips as to the best rootstocks and the best way of getting the cuttings to take (e.g. should they have bottom heat, be in a cloche, etc)?
Thanks!
--
Ali_R


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Ali_R wrote:

I would go with the propagation choice. You can progressively prune down this big tree over several seasons, but it's root structure will continue to put out lots of growth, thus an ongoing pruning job.

There are several good dwarfing cherry rootstocks. Cherries are commonly grafted onto Mazzard or Mahaleb rootstocks. Another choice would be something in the Gisella family. Krymsk 5 and 6 are newer Russian rootstocks, the later of these produces a dwarfing of 75%.
You can do a bud graft in July or August. I would recommend a chip bud graft as the most reliable and easy to do. Less commonly done are whip and tongue grafts in the Spring of Cherry scion wood. Be aware that in chip budding, the fresher the buds, the better the chances of a successful graft. I would keep the grafted tree in a shady spot for a few weeks until the graft calouses over. You can then either plant the tree, or better yet, keep it in a pot in a protected place for planting the following year. You want to initially keep the graft union warm for calusing, but keeping the entire tree that way might encourage the rootstock to come out of dormancy prematurely, which will reduce the chances of a successful graft.
Sherwin

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sherwin dubren wrote:

I may have misled you on the after care of the graft. I do most of my grafts in the Spring with whip and tongue and my suggestions on keeping the rootstock dormant were more for that kind of graft. For bud grafting, you want the rootstock to be active and leafed out. You still should follow the other suggestions about protecting the graft and planting the tree out.
I should not do these replies late at night when my thinking is not as clear as I would like it to be.
Sherwin

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sherwin dubren;855123 Wrote:

Thanks for these helpful suggestions - do you know where I can buy these rootstocks in the UK - I have not found any obvious sources on the web
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Ali_R

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Be brave and cut the top off the tree. Do it in spring when the sap has started rising to prevent silver leaf. You can often see old trees being regerated like this. You will get new growths around and just below the cut.
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Hedgeman


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Hedgeman;857396 Wrote: > Be brave and cut the top off the tree. Do it in spring when the sap has > started rising to prevent silver leaf. You can often see old trees > being regerated like this. You will get new growths around and just > below the cut.
Thanks - I'll try in the Spring. Watch this space!
--
Ali_R


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