Fruit Tree Grafting–Year 3

I’ve learnt a little more about grafting since last year. While I was successful in the sense that the grafts survived, my efforts were far from perfect. Consider this bark graft on an apple tree. It is alive, but put on less than a foot of new growth last year, despite being grafted to a vigorous trunk.

 

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You can see the remnants of the rubber band that was supposed to keep the bark in contact with the scion. As it turns out, regular rubber bands decay very quickly when exposed to sunlight (unlike special purpose grafting bands). This rubber band likely broke long before the graft had healed, which takes about a month. You can see how the bark has pulled away from the scion. I am pretty sure that’s why this graft put on so little growth last year.

Here’s one of my recent efforts:

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I made liberal use of tightly wrapped electrical tape. It doesn’t decay and should do a better job at maintaining good contact between the scion and host tree. It also acts as a moisture barrier, preventing the graft from drying out and also protecting it from pooling rain water.

I used latex paint to additionally seal around the graft and at the tip of the scion. Last year I used grafting wax, but I found that it was very hard to work with. It seems to stick to everything, but most of all to your own hands.

I now cut my scions down to 3 or less buds. The newly formed cambium initially can’t provide a lot of nutrient flow to support a lot of buds. A professional orchardist told me that he actually cuts all of his grafts back to just a single bud.

Finally, I was more careful about ensuring I had high quality scion wood to work with. I harvested the scions in winter and kept them carefully wrapped in the fridge. It will be interesting to see whether my efforts are more successful this year.

Update 5/5/13

2 months later, the grafts are looking very promising. Here’s the one pictured above – the scions have leafed out very well:

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4 Responses to Fruit Tree Grafting–Year 3

  1. Wonderful!

    You said that you harvest scions in the winter and store them in the fridge until grafting time. Do the scions already have buds on them when you harvest them from the donor tree, or do they actually form buds in the refrigerator?

    • The scions have dormant buds – the point is to keep them dormant. When you graft them it takes a while for the cambium to heal up. By grafting dormant wood, the scions don’t immediately require nutrients from the host plant, allowing time for the healing process.

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