Teach Fruit Trees to Multitask with Grafting
(Page 3 of 5)
The other important consideration is keeping the graft from drying out, which is why most are done early in the spring, while the tree and scion are still dormant. “The strategy is to minimize moisture loss in the tree,” Ken says.
If grafting is attempted during the peak growing time, the graft has to compete (for nutrients and water) with leaf and fruit production. Since most of the effort is diverted to these processes, the summertime graft will most likely fail.
From scion to stout limb
The first step in grafting is obtaining the scions, the short pieces of branches with two to three buds that are inserted into the understock (tree or root stock). Gathering scions, either from your own orchard, a friend’s place or from a nursery selling them, is best done in the winter – from January to the beginning of March – when the trees are still dormant.
Scions should come from 1-year-old wood, and never be larger in diameter than the branch you’re going to graft to. An ideal diameter is approximately the size of a pencil.
Using a sharp, clean knife, cut sections of branch at least a couple of inches longer than you need. Three healthy buds on each scion are preferable. Wrap the scions in damp paper towels or newspaper, and store them in a plastic bag in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator until you’re ready in the spring. Keeping the scions in this artificial dormancy increases your chance of success because when the understock is budding, the scion will be a couple of weeks behind. This allows the scion to take before it begins vigorous growth.
The best time for spring grafting is when the buds are just ready to open, typically in April to May depending on where you live. Jim says he prefers to graft at his Northeastern Ohio location when the water temperature of Lake Erie is 45 degrees. It seems to coordinate well to time budding since air temperature can fluctuate from year to year. If the leaves are already out, it’s tremendously difficult to keep the graft from drying out and failing.
A number of grafting styles offer varying degrees of difficulty and success. One of the simplest techniques is the whip graft, although it is also more likely to fail if the graft is not kept tight. But since scions don’t cost very much, or are outright free from friends, it’s easy to practice.
For the whip graft, use a sharp knife to make an even, sloping cut roughly 2 inches long from just below the scion’s last bud to the root end. (It’s important to keep track of the top of the scion, since one inserted upside down will not take.) Make a similar cut on the branch you wish to graft to – take care that the angles of each cut match up as closely as possible. Insert the scion into the branch, and be sure the green, cambium layers beneath the bark on both stems make solid contact.
Page: << Previous 1
| 3 | 4
| Next >>