Best Labeling for Grafts

Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)March 3, 2009

As I've been playing with learning to graft the last couple years, I would do one graft per tree, then mark on my map of trees what the grafts were.

Then, I got to thinking a little and wondered if there were a way on grafts that take to "tattoo" the branch to identify it permanently as a graft and what the variety was? The bark is always growing, so an ink type tattoo would just disappear? Trying to score the bark would have to be extreme to create something that would last?

So, what do people do? Use metal tags they can write on and hope they don't become unattached or stolen by birds? Or do you just let them go after a few years and no longer identify the graft?

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marknmt

I have a friend who uses plastic tags- the kind that nurseries use to label their stock- and replaces them every year because the ink fades! He has dozens of varieties of apple on his two trees.

I make a temporary label with tape. When (if) the graft takes I use metal stamps to emboss aluminum strips. Poke a hole in the strip and hang it up with aluminum wire.

A few of them fall off but I'm usually able to re-locate them.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 7:46AM
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glenn_russell(6b RI)

Hi Marknmt-
This is the 2nd time I've heard someone talk about the aluminum tags. I still have my original colored plastic tags on my 5-1. Can you tell us where you got these aluminum stripes? And where you get the metal stamps to emboss them? Is this an off-the-shelf system?
-Glenn

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 7:59AM
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lucky_p

Someone will post a link to a source for commercially available aluminum tags - and you can get a set of letter/number imprinting dies pretty cheaply from a place like Harbor Freight or Northern Tool.

But, if you're really cheap(like me) you can cut aluminum strips from a soft-drink can and 'emboss' the name in them with a cheap pen(think 15cent Bic). Punch a hole in one end and hang with a loop of 16 ga aluminum electric fence wire. But! I've had deer chew these up, rendering them unreadable - or just plain gone.
If you can get your hands on some old enamel-plated metal venetian blinds, they make pretty decent ID tags, cut into appropriate lengths, with the variety name and any other pertinent info scribed into the baked-on enamel coated with a nail.

One tip someone gave me long ago - and it's a good one - is to 'bury' a permanent tag of some sort (the pieces of metal venetian blind are good for this) at the base of the tree - at a specific point - say, on the North side of the tree. That way, if the tag ON the tree disappears - wind, deer, mischievous kids, etc., and you don't have (or have access to) your orchard map, it's a simple thing to poke around in the mulch to find the 'reserve' ID tag, so that you can make a new one - just remember to replace the one in the ground.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 8:21AM
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dethride(7a / 6b GA)

Hi Glenn, I'm following this too, and I'm of the mind to use foil pie plates cut into strips and mark them with a ball point pen while on a slightly soft surface so it will "emboss" it into the strip. Grafting time is getting close!
Herbert

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 8:22AM
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glenn_russell(6b RI)

Hi Herbert-
Long time no speak!
Herbert & Lucky_P-
Sounds like a good/cheap solution to me. I think I'll try it when I move my 5-1 tree this year. Thanks for the ideas!
-Glenn

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 8:39AM
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theaceofspades(7 Long Island)

Best labeling for grafts are the aluminum ones you write on with a pen. Twist on the wire around the branch, they last forever. 500 tags for $40.

Here is a link that might be useful: Write on tags

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 9:03AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I use the aluminum tags, sold by Peaceful Valley. While most of the tags are still on several years later I have also lost many, mainly because the wire breaks. Many grow into the tree itself so those are quite secure (until the tree gets so big it covers the name). My feeling is by far the most important marking is the one you make on your orchard map. I don't have a map per se but record graft locations in a spreadsheet via compass points N, NNE, etc from main the tree trunk, plus added hi/lo/etc if there is some ambiguity. I also have metal tags in the ground in front of each tree and on many of those I also squeeze in the graft names along with the main variety.

Scott

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 10:36AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

I like the aluminum can tags attached to a piece of electric fence wire. However, I haven't seen it mentioned that instead of wrapping the wire around the trunk like a necklace, you can attach the wire to the tree by wrapping the end of the wire around a small nail, and nailing it into the tree. As the tree grows it covers up the nail and the wire looks like it's growing out of the tree. No trunk girdling this way.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 12:13PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

I saw that St. Lawrence Nurseries has them. They are pricey, but if you don't need a lot of them it would be okay. They emboss the tree (or scion) name for you.

Here is a link that might be useful: Permanent Brass Tree Labels

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 1:24PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I use the aluminum tags you can write on. But don't like the wire ties. Always use cotton twine. And always tie onto a small side branch not around the main trunk. A six to eight inch loop around a side branch will never end up imbedded in the bark.

The Fruitnut

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 3:28PM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

Thanks everyone. Looks like aluminum is the winner!

I just had this funny image of looking at a grafted branch 5 years later, with a yellowish tan bark, and there in now much bigger blue letters in the bark was written "Yellow Transparent". Then I shot it down, but thought I'd run it up the flag pole anyway.

Aluminum it is, and some great thoughts on the source of the aluminum, too. Pop cans really sound good--cheap, durably thick. Will have to look around for a pop can. Haven't had one since I had a black cherry float last summer when it was warm. I'm just not a pop drinker.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 2:35AM
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lucky_p

Olpea,
I've done something similar to your nail - but instead, I just used a paneling nail slightly smaller than the aluminum electric fence wire, drove it an inch or so into the tree, pulled it out, and inserted the end of the wire into the hole.
If you're going to use wire to attach your label to the tree, a soft aluminum wire is best - less danger to yourself or others if, at some time in the future, you encounter that hardware with a chainsaw. Soft aluminum wire will cut through with little resistance, but stiffer, heavier steel wire &/or nails may not.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 9:06AM
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theaceofspades(7 Long Island)

I tried the soda can label and it writes good enough. But it looks kind of cheesy having cut soda can colored labels dangling in the tree. If I had to cut 500 labels from soda cans I'd plunk down $40 and have them shipped in a heart beat.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 10:12AM
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glenn_russell(6b RI)

I was going to try cutting up the pie plates so that I wouldn't have the cheesy coloring. Any reason why cut pie plates wouldn't work as well as the soda cans?

Or, perhaps someone who really wants the tags could buy the 500, and then sell them in lots of 50 to the rest of us. -Glenn

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 10:28AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

I double over the pop can aluminum so no color shows. Also fold over the edges so they're not sharp.

Good idea Lucky, on the aluminum wire.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 12:59PM
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sandy_village

cut off top & bottom, then slit and folded...edges sharp so I folded over 1 side edge...but for ends it's too thick to punch a hole ...I can't figure out how to secure the end that I will attach wire to and tie onto branch...suggestions ?

1 Like    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 7:20PM
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marknmt

I'm having trouble seeing the problem here, as the picture shows clean, nicely-drilled holes in the strips. Does your question have to do with using the end pieces? If so, I don't try to. Those can be recycled. So I'm pretty sure I don't understand your question well. Can you try again?

Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 8:59PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

Cut in strips as wide as you like it and hand engrave with a cordless tool out on site for permanent label,..as you see, two holes punched with nail and hung with wire so the label always point the right way and don't flutter around in wind!

I'm tired of little commercial labels, one has to go close to read it, use long wire so you're good for many years.

1 Like    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 9:06PM
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copingwithclay

My grafting kit includes a pen, small tablet, and several small rolls of colored vinyl tape. After wrapping each graft with tape, I also wrap a ring of a chosen color of vinyl tape that corresponds to each variety of scion being used. I write down" 3-10-14 pom. Red Silk red tape cleft gr.", or "3-10-14 pom. Texas Pink green tape cleft gr." The note page gets placed in a manila folder headed "POM. Grafting". Those scions that grow out well will get their own aluminum tag afterwards, since some scions in perfect condition that are grafted with perfect technique onto a perfect rootstock branch.....will not make it. And dinky scions grafted in sloppy fashion onto a so-so rootstock branch may grow like crazy.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 10:49PM
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sandy_village

Wasn't worried about the soda can lid & bottom...was more worried about the sharp edges on the hole punched end and the bottom of the tag...folded over on the sides was great, but the ends are very, very sharp and thick. I like the tags in the photo above...didn't think about having 2 holes for the wire...gonna experiment more and appreciate all suggestions...thanks!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 10:50PM
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sandy_village

Geez...I thought about keeping a diary...would have to have several different colors of tape to track things that way...I've got several grafts on a Nectarine, Plum, Peach and Pluot...thanks for the notes about record keeping...this all started because I got a 3 in 1 Pluot from a neighbor and she took off the tags...so I don't know which branch is which! Thanks...good ideas....

    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 10:53PM
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JoppaRich(7b)

I use aluminum flashing cut into about 4"x1.5" tags, drill a hole through one end, and use electric fence wire to make a loop around a branch.

I use some harbor freight metal punches to put letters on them.

I started with aluminum cans, but these are definitely more durable.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 10:31AM
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sandy_village

I have a HF nearby...what do I ask for specifically..."metal punch" ? Or can't I use a pen to write instead...pros and cons? When you say the flashing is more durable...do you mean the aluminum or the writing or what? (thanks)

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 10:35AM
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spartan-apple

Greetings:

Lots if interesting comments posted on labeling grafts. I use paint! When I bud another variety onto an existing tree,
I apply some bright paint near the bud so I can easily find it
next spring to cut off the branch just above the bud.

I saw a tree grafted to many varieties years ago and each
branch was color coded with paint. The key (map) made by the grafter showed what variety each branch was.

I would think a few cans of exterior spray paint in bright colors would mark the branches easily. At least this is my
plan when I will be chip budding numerous varieties to
some of my existing trees this August.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 11:32AM
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JoppaRich(7b)

sandy_village,

The aluminum flashing is significantly thicker than aluminum can. Flashing can be found at lowes/homedepot/etc. It's near roofing, etc.

If you use cans, you can just use a ball-point pen (has to be ball-point, you're using it to emboss, not write). If you get good, and can write backwards, you can make some really nice tags (I find text sticking out easier to read on can tags than recessed text).

The flashing is too thick to emboss with a pen, so I used these, and a hammer:
http://www.harborfreight.com/36-piece-14-steel-letternumber-stamping-set-60671.html#.Ux3ljvldW1w

It's a little more work, but I think you end up with a heavier, nicer tag.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 12:17PM
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sandy_village

Thanks for the ideas. The paint would be great ..,but, I don't think it would work for what I need to label. I am experimenting quite a bit on some smaller trees and want to be able to know from a tag exactly which graft is which. The HF stamps seem cool...but maybe more than I need for just a handful of trees. I'm going to play with some soda can labels & a pen ...and probably should write it up in a log as well. This is a great subject that I'm sure others will learn from as well! Thanks everyone for sharing!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 6:52PM
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armyofda12mnkeys(7a, Philly, PA)

You can get whatever size you want on ebay if dont want to buy 500....
http://www.ebay.com/itm/100-METAL-TREE-TAGS-PLANT-LABELS-ID-MARKERS-/270617549007?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0amp;hash=item3f021018cf

Yeh i learned the wire's will cut into the bark and bark will absorb/grow around the wire. Guess I could use twine in a long loop like person above, but I just learned not to 'tie' the wire... but lightly wrap it around the branch twice without crossing over the wires (in such a way where if i forget 1-2 years of loosening the wire, that it will still expand around the branch without digging into the bark).

Also on my shrubs, like gooseberries/currants, the aluminum may not have a good place to hang the 1st year and just falls onto the ground, and over the winter gets a little oxidized. Still looks decent though (but I'd probably just use plastic labels for shrubs the 1st year).

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 7:35PM
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sandy_village

Thanks for the ideas. The paint would be great ..,but, I don't think it would work for what I need to label. I am experimenting quite a bit on some smaller trees and want to be able to know from a tag exactly which graft is which. The HF stamps seem cool...but maybe more than I need for just a handful of trees. I'm going to play with some soda can labels & a pen ...and probably should write it up in a log as well. This is a great subject that I'm sure others will learn from as well! Thanks everyone for sharing!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 8:29PM
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marknmt

Re sharp edges: I know the feeling! Touch up the edges with a little 100 grit sandpaper, or fold them over and flatten with pliers or hammer.

I like to cut a nice piece of aluminum from a beer can and emboss it by writing on it with a fine ball point. The ink doesn't take but it dents the aluminum. That's easier than the metal stamp kit I sometimes use.

The cheap ($10.00) stamp kit is a little tedious to use but makes a very permanent, deep mark on brass, copper, or aluminum. A 1" x 3" strip is big enough to stamp the identity of the graft and the date. Attach with soft wire. I think Scott's method of stapling the wire in place is great and I'm going to start doing it.

It's been useful to read all the great ideas to this and I thank everybody who has shared tips. Pretty neat.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 10:39PM
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PRO
Alecia Bane

You 're right @sandy_village! same process i use for my garden plant. And buy instrument from IDeal Garden Markers Roseville MN.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2015 at 3:46AM
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