Fruit Tree Grafting

CrealCritter

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DRAFT How to Bench Graft Fruit Trees Scionwood to Rootstock for USDA Zone 6B or 7

Remember, grafting is like any good recipe. If you skip a step, and it's not gonna turn out how you expected. After you read this how to, >>> watch this video <<< so that you better understand the cuts needed to make for a whip and tongue graft and some terms used for grafting.

Steps for success
  1. Make sure you have a sharp grafting knife. The best grafting knife is one that is thin with a stainless steel blade, which does not harbor bacteria or rust. The blade is a single bevel like a straight razor so you can make flat cuts easily. Because grafting knifes are single bevel, they come in right and left handed. If your a lefty, get a left handed grafting knife, if your a righty, get a right handed grafting knife. Remember to sharpen your grafting knife. As a sharp knife is a much better and safer knife to work with. It should be noted There is a difference between a grafting knife and a budding knife. Ensure you get the correct knife (Grafting Knife).
  2. Joining the Rootstock and scion. It's recommend that whip and tongue graft for both the scion and rootstock, make an 1.5" angular cut, about 60°. Make these cuts in such a way that when the two surfaces are laid together, the buds on the scion are facing upward, as they would be when growing naturally. Next, make the “back cut” on each piece of wood. This means cutting 1.5" into each stick, lengthwise straight down the line of the wood, starting about 2/3 of the way up the newly exposed wood from your first cut.
  3. Lock the two pieces of wood together. The side view of the two locked pieces will look like a reversed N. Don’t jam them together too forcefully. You risk snapping the wood.
  4. If you cannot match the scion to the rootstock then match one side. Do not split the difference. A one-sided graft works just fine. You want to ensure the cambium matches on both sides. If not possible due to differing diameters, then match cambium on one side.
  5. Seal and compress the graft.You have several options. Ideally you would use paper or natural raffia and parafilm. In a pinch you can use electrical tape, a thick rubber band and kitchen shrinkwrap, but these materials do not bio-degrade quickly like raffia and parafilm, so you will need to remember to carefully remove them by July 4th. Note: If using electrical tape, remove it very carefully or you'll risk removing the bark along with the tape.
  6. Seal the cut scion tip. Ideally you want to cut the grafted scion to leave 3 or 4 buds, then seal the cut. Use a 50/50 mix of paraffin and beeswax as a sealer. Don't use pure beeswax because it won't successfully seal and don't use pure paraffin, because it is too hard and the top bud won't break through. A commercial sealer is also available here follow the directions from the manufacturer, but don't expect the top bud of your grafted scion to be able to break through the commerical sealer. The general guidance is it dip the top 1 inch of scion into the wax or commerical sealer. This keeps the scion from drying out during the callousing process. A double boiler is the way to keep the wax blend from getting too hot. Alternatively, you could use an old crock pot. The temperature is perfect in a crock pot set to low.
  7. Heel in the grafts. Potting soil in a well-draining container such as a wooden crate or plant pot with drainage holes near the bottom is the best medium. Keep the soil moist at all times, don't over water and keep the humidity up by enclosing in plastic for at least the first 2 weeks.
  8. Bench grafts need at least two weeks to callous before planting. They can be stored for up to 12 weeks. A 45ºF room for 6 weeks works well for callousing. If the buds on your grafted scion start to swell or show any green at all and it is still too early to plant outside, then put them in a refrigerator which does not any fruit or vegetables to slow down the budding growth. Fruit and vegetables release a gas that can kill your newly grafted tree so it's best to not refrigerate your new grafted tree along with fruit and or vegetables.
  9. Bench grafting is done between January and mid April for USDA Zones 6B and 7 with a targeted planting date of May 15-20. This gives the grafts enough time to form a callous before planting. Be sure to plant after the threat of hard frost is past, which is around the middle of April.
  10. Acclimate your grafts. Set them outside in the shade for a few days before planting. The ideal time for planting a graft is when it is just showing signs of green tip and has been hardened off for a few days and after the threat of hard frost has passed. Plant on a cloudy day. Planting while cloudy and before rain is a great time.
  11. Planting in ground or planting in pots or planting in permanent location?
    • Planting in the ground in a garden situation, its best to plant, 1' apart in well-prepared soil. Keep the weeds out and keep them watered well, mulch helps. Basically, treat them like tomato plants.
    • Planting in pots works, but is more work. Use a 3-5 gallon pot in good quailty potting soil. Pots heat up in the summer and roots do not like to be hot, so cover the pots in a pile of bark chips or similar material. You will need to to ask a friend or neighbor to water them when you go away for a week! This is why the ground is better.
    • Planting in their permanent location works only if you are willing to take care of them. It's a lot easier to protect 20 trees in a single row than it is to take care of them in scattered all over the place. Protect from deer, mice, etc...
    • No matter which method you use. Remember to leave the graft about 2 to 3 inches above the soil. Planting to deep and covering the graft with soil or mulch so it doesn't get air and rots is second only to neglect for mortality of unestablished grafted fruit trees. Graft rotting will occur quickly is the graft does not receive air.
  12. Surround your new fruit tree with tall fencing for birds to land on and keep the deer from eating your new fruit tree. A bird will always pick the highest point to perch on. If a graft is the highest point in near vacinity, birds will perch on your graft and snap it off. It will then move on to the next and the next and next... Goodbye grafts! Fencing also helps to protect your young grafted fruit trees from dear and rabbits.
  13. Keep the weeds out, and water regularly. Treat you new grafted fruit tree like you would a tomato plant. Water regularly until well established. Expect to regularly water them weekly if insufficient rain. They will need about an inch of water a week.
  14. Keep the bugs out! Some plant bugs and leaf hoppers inject poison into the growing tip and may set your young grafted fruit tree back by several weeks, heavy infestations may even cause mortality.
  15. Sucker your grafts. As your grafts grow, rub off any shoots that grow from the rootstock. The graft is still very fragile, so be careful.
  16. Side-limb. As side shoots try to grow from the central leader or leaders below knee height, remove them. They will be too low to form branches and will divert growth energy away from the central leader(s). One way to remove one then is to rock it gently back and forth until it falls from its socket between the central leader and the leaf node below it.
  17. Visit your fruit trees regularly. A nursery is just that, a nursery. Like a garden, Your young grafted fruit trees will thrive with your attention. The sooner you spot any problems, the easier it will be to correct them.
Most Importantly - don't take failure as failure. If your grafts don't take the first time, keep on trying, try again next year. Besides if kept alive, you can always chip bud your late winter failed rootstocks in August. More on summer chip budding later.

Jesus is Lord and Christ 🙏❤️🇺🇸
 
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CrealCritter

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Very interesting bench grafting video, watch it several times. It's what one could expect IF you can find a old timer to mentor/teach you. He also demonstrates bark grafting which he says is 100% success rate.


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CrealCritter

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My first ever grafting knife, nice 👍 it's larger than I thought, comfortable in my big hand, blade thin stainless steel and single beveled like a straight razor. I believe I could do some good grafting with this knife.
IMG_20220506_172014366.jpg


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CrealCritter

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I've dropped a lot of information in this thread so far and only scratched the surface. There are so many more grafts to cover, than just the whip and tongue graft. I've been continuing my study, and been hesitant to post any more because there doesn't seem to be much interest.

Personally I enjoy eating fruit, I eat it everyday. I'm looking forward to learning grafting, so I can propagate my dozen or so fruit trees and build a small orchard. I was hoping there would be more interest because I was also thinking about proposing scionwood trades this coming late winter.

I realize the information I posted is lengthy and requires time and focus to understand fully.

If there is interest, I'll keep posting. if there's not I'll stop posting. But either way I'm continuing my studies so I can personally try and learn the craft or should I say graft 😁

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CrealCritter

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As long as there's interest I'll keep posting :)

Summer (August) Bud Stick Grafts for growth staring the following spring.

I think this is a good video for T-Bud/Shield and Chip Bud grafting.


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CrealCritter

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Looking at the different varieties of apple at Kroger. My two favorites Red and Golden Delicious are no where to be found. I've not heard these apples before, except for Gala & Granny Smith, what happened??? Bring back the classics!
IMG_20220507_182420972.jpg

IMG_20220507_182358323.jpg


FYI... This weekend Starkbros is having a $18.16 customer appreciation sale and free shipping on orders of $75.00 or more. 1816 is the year the Starkbros nursery went into business. I've ordered a number of trees from Starkbros they are what I would call premium.

I picked up a "Pink Lady" apple tree at starkbros for $18.16 this morning, along with some other fruit trees, plus a key lime and lemon tree and a cherry pitter. I've never eaten a Pink Lady apple before. So while at Kroger I picked a few up. They aren't bad, slightly tart crunchy and juicy. But not even close to my favorite Red or Golden Delicious, again bring back the classics 😁 I'll plant the Pink Lady and tend to it the same as they others. Because a not so bad apple is better than no apple at all :)

I should add... Pink Lady apples were the most expensive apple at Kroger, $2.79 a lb (see pics above). That's just something else for a not so bad apple. I guess everyone's taste buds are different... But mine still like the classics best.

Jesus is Lord and Christ 🙏❤️🇺🇸
 
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CrealCritter

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Starkbros Red Delicious Apple I planted 3 weeks ago. It was the 3 to 4 foot bare root, semi dwarf. I can't be certain, but I suspect this was chip budded onto M111 root stock.

Surprised to see flowers on it already. Ofcourse it won't make any apples this year because all the pollinator apples have already bloomed and set fruit. But maybe next year I might see some red delicious apples from this tree.
IMG_20220508_100045437_HDR.jpg


Here's the Starkbros graft. Looks like a chip but graft 2 to 3 years old. You can see where they cut the Rootstock just above the graft. When planting new grafted fruit trees it's important to not bury the graft. Leave it 2 to 3 inches above the soil. Burying the graft is the most common mistake made and results in mortality of the tree.
IMG_20220508_100130136_HDR.jpg


Here is some background and a video of how Starkbros grafts their fruit trees (chip bud graft).
https://www.starkbros.com/growing-guide/article/bud-grafting-fruit-trees

Jesus is Lord and Christ 🙏❤️🇺🇸
 

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