When to start grafting?

megamav(5a - NY)March 26, 2013

I have scions from various sources and im going to graft onto an existing tree.

What signs should I look for to know its OK to start grafting?
Weather? Tree indicators?
When is it too late to graft scions?

Thanks!

-Eric
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ravenh2001

You start when the buds on an alder are as big as a mouses ear. The down side is that is also the best time to start fishing for brook trout. LOL

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 7:12PM
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megamav(5a - NY)

I think I got my answer from another thread thru google.
The search here is awful.

http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/load/fruit/msg032019553315.html

Sounds like its between silver tip and 1/2" green.
Should be soon here, temps are rising, 50's this weekend.
Thinking 2 weeks from now, we'll see.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 8:44PM
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marknmt

I guess we're all assuming that we're talking about grafting pomes. I think that stone fruit require warmer temperatures to callous.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 8:16AM
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windfall_rob(vt4)

I have had good success grafting pommes anytime the risk of hard freeze is past. But generally better luck the less time they sit around on the tree before it breaks dormancy.

The type of grafting you plan to use is a big factor. I like whip and tongue when my scions are the right size and it is easier to do these grafts cleanly before the trees break dormancy and the bark begins to "slip" ...I think clefts do a bit better at this stage too.

Other graft require that the bark slips easily and the tree be in active growth.

In my (limited)experience, stone fruit definitely do better with the tree out of dormancy and a nice stretch of 60-70 ish weather.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 8:31AM
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megamav(5a - NY)

Thanks guys, Im grafting scions onto a crab apple.

I was under the impression that I was supposed to graft when the tree starts moving and the buds at least swell.

I've read up on a lot of different aspects of grafting, but its not really well documented on WHEN you should do it.

Our nights here are still struggling to stay above 30.
This tree will mostly be cleft grafted, possibly a few whip and tongue grafts. Im new to this, I've only practiced on clipped wood, so im sticking to the easier grafts.

Here is a pic of my tree, in case you're curious, it'll be stumpy after im done with all of the grafts this year.
You can see the 4 main scaffolds im going to cleft and some of new growth in between I'll likely need to cleft due to it being so thick.

Scions:

Freyberg
Belle de Boscoop
Reine des Reinettes
Calville Blanc

Your thoughts?
Thanks!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 10:30AM
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murkwell

I started to post a reply to your original message, but dumped it part way figuring you'd get good advice from others and not knowing the particulars about your climate.

Pome fruits, which include apples, are very forgiving. I've bench grafted a quince tree and then stuck it in a little refrigerator for a couple of weeks before planting it out. When I took it out of the fridge it was coated in a layer of ice, so surely it was 31 degrees in there or below for some time.

The tree grew fine.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 7:41PM
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megamav(5a - NY)

Thanks for the advice, I may be starting sooner than I thought. Over the past couple days, the silver tips are starting to poke thru.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 4:47PM
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windfall_rob(vt4)

30's a non issue, hard freeze I am talking about teens and below.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 5:23PM
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megamav(5a - NY)

Rob, have you started grafting this year?
I might start Saturday.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 9:39PM
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alan haigh

I should post that I had great success with plums and peaches last year for the first time after waiting until they were fully leafed out. For pears and apples the results are the opposite where grafting as close to first growth as possible seems to work best.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 6:23AM
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megamav(5a - NY)

Harvestman,

The terminal buds on the tree are starting to show fuzzy silver tips.
Temps mid-week could get down as low as 23.
If you were me, would you hold off on grafting until the latest cold snap passes?

Your neighbor to the north,

-Eric

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 8:47AM
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windfall_rob(vt4)

my problem with waiting too long with cleft grafts is they get trickier when the bark begins to slip. You can still do them and they take very well if everything lines up.

When done right, you have tapered you scion both along it's length and slightly across its width, so that your sure that the outside edge (relative to understock) is the one that seats. firmly. Insuring cambium to cambium contact.

If the bark is slipping and you have slightly over cut the cross grain taper, sometimes as you push the scion down to seat, the bark of the understock pops loose, and suddenly it's a bit more of a guessing game to insure everything is in contact and firmly held.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 12:55PM
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windfall_rob(vt4)

Eric, this is really only an issue with smaller understocks say 2-4X scion diameter....it looks like your tree will be much thicker and not likely to create this problem.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 1:03PM
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megamav(5a - NY)

Rob,

How long is too long to wait in your experience?
Past 1/2" green stage?

Right now, on my other trees the terminal buds are swollen without a doubt, but still silver tip. This crab apple is tough to judge, most of the buds are much smaller than that of the 3 other regular apple trees I have. Only a little bit of gray is popping out of the very red terminal buds.

I just want to do this grafting project right the first time, and at the best possible time.

Thanks for writing back.

-Eric

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 1:09PM
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windfall_rob(vt4)

In my experience by the time buds are breaking breen the bark is starting to slip and certainly once leaves are identifiable it is slipping enough to do any grafting that requires it.

Don't sweat it too much, plenty of guys are grafting (pommes)when the snow is still deep on the ground...in part because they have too, in part because that's when there out pruning (because they have so much). But they wouldn't be doing it then if it didn't work fine then.

And like I wrote, you can certainly do cleft and whip grafts with the bark slipping you just have to be a bit more careful.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 8:13PM
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megamav(5a - NY)

After pic below.
I didnt do the rind grafts on the top, the rind wouldnt pull apart easily and clean on a test piece.
The buds on the tree were peaking with a little bit of green on the tips and the cut wood was juicy when wedged.

I left some nurse branches to help the tree recover.
I hope my grafts take, I have rookie neurosis at the moment. :)

How long does it usually take to see signs of graft growth?

-Eric

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 9:38AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

It is still early to graft. I'm two zones warmer and haven't done any grafting yet. On earlier grafts like you did they can take up to a month; later grafts take two weeks roughly. it depends a lot on the weather. Given the large size of your tree you should be OK, the vigor of the tree greatly increases takes. Also the weather should really warm up quickly here since we are so far behind up to now.

If they are not looking good in a month, unwrap one carefully to check. If its browned just cut some more wood off the stubs and do it all over again. Oh, I hope you saved some extra scion for re-grafting if needed, thats another thing to always do :-)

Scott

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 9:50AM
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megamav(5a - NY)

Scott,

I want to say thank you for the Freyberg scions, they're on the grafts on the south side (pointing left in the pic) of the tree since they're less vigorous.

I based my decision to graft yesteday based on the following:

1. I looked at the tree for about a week, and the buds have been emerging, its been in the 50s for 4-5 days, but the sun has been REALLY warm. I took an infrared temp gun and pointed it at the tree last week, and in the sun it registered 75.

2. I was reading harvestman's advice on successful grafts, and he stated he had the most success when the grafts are put on in the closest to when the tree breaks dormancy, which I think it is now with the bud moving and the juicy wood.

3. I read that the best growth comes from getting a close enough match between the bud stages on the stock and on the scions.

4. I looked at the mid-tem weather report for the next week, and we will hit 70 in a few days and hold 60s all week. Also, next weekend looks wet, I dont want to graft in the rain, probably not a good idea.

I did keep the remaining wood, but im not sure how I could reattempt with all of the grafts sealed with goopy/sticky grafting wax. I sealed all of the clefts, side cracks, exposed cuts on the scions, so I hope they dont dry out.

I hope I wasnt mistaken grafting when I did. windfall_rob said "Dont sweat it" so I didnt, except for roasting in the sun for 4 hours. :)

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 10:20AM
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alan haigh

I don't see how you could be too early as I've had no problems when grafting earlier still. I've also begun grafting and my apples aren't showing much at all- the peaches and J. plums are the ones in obvious growth.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 3:51PM
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jagchaser(5A NE, -15-115f may frost)

Hope I didnt mess up. I grafted some Montmorency and Evans scions to my 10 Krymsk 5 rootstocks that came in, then I stuck them back in the dark cool under the house. I plan to plant them in the shade tuesday. I am just waiting for my 25 Mahaleb rootstocks to come in so I can graft the rest of the scions. I dont know exactly how you describe the bud condition they were in. None of them were dormant anymore. The scions were swelled up some and the krymsk were a little more than swelled, showing a little green.

The Rootstocks were bigger than the scions for the most part and I had to go up the rootstock probably 8-12 inches to find a point where the diameter was the same. I hope that is not too high for the graft?

Its my first time grafting and Im real excited to see how it works!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2013 at 10:03PM
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alan haigh

Jag, I haven't attempted cherries but let us know how it works. I seem to get much better results with plums and peaches by waiting until trees have leafed out and cherry wood is similar- probably dries out quicker than pear or apple.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 6:06AM
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windfall_rob(vt4)

In the field I have only had success with cherries just after the leaves emerge. I think stone fruit in general want warmer temps to callus in.
I had great success bench grafting apricot using a system outlined by Bob Purvis, in short:

Do the bench graft, then I potted them up 8-10 per 5 gallon bucket in a very loose, slightly damp medium.
clear Plastic bag over the bucket.
then kept them indoors and warm...70F for 7-10 days, checking them for scion growth and rubbing off any emerging buds from rootstock.
Pulled from medium (gently) as scion buds emerged and planted out...I think Bob goes to individual pots if its still hard cold.

I was very leery of treating stock this way, after so many years of trying to keep bare root stuff dormant until planting, but I got near 100% take, and with the loose medium I lost very few of the new fine roots that emerged while indoors.

I would think this system would work well for any stone fruit.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 8:11AM
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Bradybb(wa8)

That's good to hear about your success Rob.I have two Asian Pear grafts that I brought inside for a few weeks and one started budding from the root stock and I took those off.
I watched a Dave Wilson sometime afterwards and Tom Spellman said to leave the growth on the root stock til about 3 inches and then remove.I guess their theory is,it will promote better flow and help it grow.So I was concerned.
One scion is breaking bud,so I'm happy about that. Brady

This post was edited by Bradybb on Mon, Apr 8, 13 at 10:26

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 10:25AM
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alan haigh

I suspect it isn't about warmer temps as much as stage of growth with stone fruit, but without research it's just a matter of opinion.

When using a green house the high constant humidity reduces the chance of scion wood drying out. The only consistent success I've had with paw paws has been in a greenhouse.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 10:54AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I have had problems on earlier grafts on apples and pears, thats why I now wait until there is movement. I think it was two years ago that I grafted some things early and I noticed the later things passed those up and I also lost a few on the earliest ones. Most of the early ones still took so its not like it was a total failure.

I will probably start on my apples this evening since there is a stretch of 70's-80's coming. Most apples are at silver tip but I expect I will see a lot more green tips today than I did yesterday. 1/4" green on apples is for me the perfect graft timing, the tree is just starting to push. The temps for the upcoming week are also a big factor, 50's-70's highs are the best for apples. My above problem happened when I grafted during a warmer March period and then it was cold for two weeks.

Scott

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 12:23PM
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alan haigh

Scott, how early?

I've grafted just before first signs of growth numerous times with excellent results.

For apples later grafts have to struggle more against leaf hoppers because they open just as other growth is hardening off.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 2:44PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Hman, I checked my logs, here is a 2011 entry verbatim:

5/11 redid a few failing apple and pear grafts. Based on how things are going I think I want to move forward my grafting time a bit. The general idea is to wait until the sap is flowing really good; for apples this means some full leaves should probably be out, not just in bud. Perhaps later April is the time to start on the apples?

I didn't log when I did the grafting, there was bud swell but no green. It looks like I was thinking of doing things even later, but I think I was over-reacting. In 2012 I did things in the tight cluster or so stage and it was fine.

Scott

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 9:32AM
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alan haigh

Scott, that's a pretty limited sample- my success is based on probably 5 seasons at several sites and somewhere around 40 or 50 grafts per year. I did these grafts before silver tip or just at. The positive and clear difference has me convinced earlier is better but it may be a regional issue. Do leaf hoppers attack your grafts? I can't protect grafts at some sites including the ones where I graft early. By about 25 days after petal fall everything is unprotected and leaf hoppers can suck the life out of nicely growing grafts.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 12:19PM
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cousinfloyd

Scott and harvestman, are you referring specifically and only to bark grafts? It would seem that the best time of year for grafting would depend on the type of graft (and on the species, too, and the weather that particular year, etc.) I'm pretty sure I have significantly less experience than both of you, but I really feel like right at or just before first bud swell is the best stage of growth for whip and tongue grafts on apples and pears. That first flush of growth in the spring seems to be the strongest, and I feel like it's better to let that flush feed the new scion and help it put on a good first year of growth.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 1:13PM
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alan haigh

CF, I agree and I use a simpler graft- the splice- usually one year wood to one year wood- same diameter about pencil thickness (or cheap pen). Thinner wood would likely dry out quicker.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 2:56PM
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cousinfloyd

I've never really worried about the age of the stock wood. Is one year wood on one year wood better than one year on two/three year wood (in terms of percentage takes)?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 9:23PM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Harvestman, I don't have leafhopper problems. I have about 10 years experience with at least 100 grafts per year. I have had a couple years where I was too early but not as bad as 2011. It also has a lot to do with the weather, you may warm up faster once spring hits there so perhaps you can afford to graft when the buds are tighter. This year I am getting a very compressed spring, some of my apples were barely out of silver tip when I grafted over the weekend but I knew it would be fine with the forecast of warm weather for the forseeable future. The peaches had no growth when I looked on the weekend and today I had about an inch of leaf so I grafted many of them this evening.

Scott

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 10:40PM
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alan haigh

Scott, I wasn't talking about your general graft experience only your small amount of evidence about early grafting. I have grafted early in a variety of weather conditions.

Anecdote is increasingly unreliable as the experience is less and neither of us has much more than speculation to go on based on limited experience in grafting early. Most of the input here (also limited) suggests that early grafting is fine- cool springs are very normal events.

Also, judging from scions you sent me, you may use thinner wood than I do (I've had very thick pieces take a year to leaf out)- so many different factors could be playing on this, including grafting method.

I have been wrong so many times on theories that seemed sound, based on logical deduction and clear observations that I am no longer surprised at all by my mistaken assumptions. Maybe this year all my early grafts will fail- they were followed by a few days of cold weather.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 6:03AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I had two solid weeks of colder weather after the grafts when mine failed in 2011. That may be the main issue, not the stage of the trees. I agree we don't have a whole lot of data here so we are just giving educated guesses.

Scott

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 9:27AM
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Chris-7b-GA(7b)

As a followup to the conversation, looks like my recent experience supports HM's comments of success with grafting apples at silver tip stage or earlier. As a newbee fruit grower, did my first apple grafts about 6 weeks ago using saddle graft method. Rootstocks were were just reaching silver tip stage, after the grafts, we had some really cold spells so I was starting to have doubts about starting to early. I checked yesterday after a few days of warm weather and had new growth on all of the scion, 100% success, I am pretty excited about, on to the next challenge of trying a persimmon graft!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 7:36AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Chris, 6 weeks is a long time for a scion to just sit there, it is slowly drying out until it takes. If you had a little hot weather to dry them out followed by a lot of cool, they could have been toasted. In general I think there is a bigger dice roll with these earlier grafts, depending on how the weather oscillates.

Scott

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 8:00AM
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alan haigh

Scott, I have to say again, that your experience of one season doesn't show which is a bigger dice roll. If you had leaf hoppers maybe the dice roll would be greater the other way. I believe that in any situation the sooner the graft starts to grow in relation to first growth of tree it's grafted on the better if will do if you are grafting on a determinant grower like apples and pears. Grafts that sprout late never get much growth the first year in my experience up here.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 8:21AM
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Noogy(6 sw mi)

"Grafts that sprout late never get much growth the first year in my experience up here."
You can say that again. Wait until June and be happy if it takes using winter wood. I guess in terms of scionwood last call beckons and until late-summer budding, that's basically it.
I'll be attempting saddle grafts on my Betulaefolia about 6-8" up and using smaller material. They've been in the ground since 4/7 and am shooting for Sunday since it'll be so mild.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 10:02AM
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Chris-7b-GA(7b)

Scott, what you are saying as far as the scion drying out makes sense, if I knew that March this year was going to be 6 degrees below average, I probably would have waited a while, I guess my point was that I am a little surprised that the grafts even survived the unexpected cold weather and that I am grateful that they did.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 11:53AM
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Johnnysapples

So how are your scions looking now? My buds on the trees are double in size from yesterday. They look like they are getting ready to peak some green tips out. It's fun waiting to see what happens, even to the trees I planted last year.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 5:38PM
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megamav(5a - NY)

Its been about 11 days since I grafted.

Its still early to make any calls on success, but so far it seems the waterspout at the top of the tree that appeared when I cut back damaged wood and the large scaffolds except Freyberg have a little swelling and more silver tip.

Nurse branches are 1/2" green, progressed from green tip since grafting.

Tough to say, after this weekend I may have a better idea. Its forecasted to be heavy sun days Sunday/Monday, should make the tree/ground warm.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 6:31PM
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megamav(5a - NY)

Doesnt look like the grafts have moved much.
Its been a full 2 weeks now.
I showed one of the remaining nurse branches in the pic to the right.
How much longer until I start to see some movement out of the grafts?
Couple more weeks?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 1:22PM
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Johnnysapples

From what I've read, sometimes it takes a couple extra weeks. you might be a month yet. They look like they were just threw a big rainstorm that changed to wind with snow, then back to warmer. Just kidding, thats what that storm did here and I know it went east.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 4:29PM
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Johnnysapples

This video might give you a good idea of what to expect. That is if I get the link to post. First attempt at this. I learned a lot from this guy. Mainly because he makes a lot of videos.

Here is a link that might be useful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRREg8qEGg4

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 6:37PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

Not to worry too much for your cleft grafts, give it another couple of weeks, ..I'd be worry on rind graft, [video above] on heavy stock like yours.
But,.. you have some nice one year waterspouts, these would make it perfect to graft onto,..like splice or whip and tongue.
Much higher success rate and grafts look wonderful, less worries of breaking off.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 10:50PM
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megamav(5a - NY)

Konrad,

Thanks for the words of advice.
I'll have to exercise more patience.

The left over branches will be used in the future to either expand the current varieties or graft new varieties on.

Right now they're just there to supply some nutrients to the tree. I have more buds popping out of the trunk, im sure all of the cuts stimulated the tree lower.

I'll post more updates when I see movement.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 12:49AM
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megamav(5a - NY)

Calville Blanc d'Hiver - Right graft has green bud

Calville Blanc d'Hiver #2 - No bud movement

Reine des Reinettes - I dont think the buds have moved that much, hard to say.

Reine des Reinettes #2 - Looks like the one bud in the sun is getting silver tip.

Freyberg - Swelling buds, looks like a take, green bud under the wax tip.

Belle de Boskoop, new central leader - Swelling buds

Belle de Boskoop - No movement, not sure why, I was meticulous with this one.

Freyberg #2 - Not much movement.

Frankentree

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 8:12PM
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alan haigh

It is typical for grafts to lag considerably behind growth of established branches. I am in Z6, se NY and I only see some growth on some pear grafts. If they aren't in growth by June you can worry.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 9:24PM
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Johnnysapples

I have silver tip on mine too. The grafts I did with a tip bud on the end look like they are about to open up first.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 8:24AM
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alan haigh

Yes the further the buds are up the shoot the earlier they open, even when grafted to another branch.

Buds near base are often incompletely formed and I avoid using them.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 9:16AM
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megamav(5a - NY)

Harvestman,

Incompletely formed, meaning from making the angle cuts on the scion? One of the buds near the base of my graft is making more progress than the intermediate buds between the base and tip.

I did some reading, and I read that if you have a bud facing out away from the stock from the cleft graft the graft has a better chance of taking. I tried doing this when I could, but sometimes it didnt happen because I needed to restart a cut that was not cut right.

Amateur!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 9:58AM
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megamav(5a - NY)

Smaller stock, and larger stock, is it me, or does the larger stock take scions much faster than smaller stock?
It seems there is a good 10-14 day lag on the smaller stock.
Is this due to less sap being pushed to the smaller branches?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 7:13PM
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alan haigh

By incompletely formed, I mean they are less clearly developed, instead of a full bud there might just be like a line.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 5:23AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Mega, larger stocks push a lot faster, they have the "goods" to feed a whole lot of leaves and all that sap is now flowing into one little branch.

Scott

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 7:12AM
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alan haigh

My fastest apple grafts, which last year became like decent bare root sized trees- over five feet growth, almost half inch diameter in first season, were grafted on water sprouts connected to the trunk or large branches.

That is the best growth I've gotten from first year grafts, I assume because we had an extra 3 weeks of growing season with insane early spring- plus the trees grafted on are mature but flowers were frozen off (may be main factor).

I bet you can get stone fruit grafts to establish quicker by removing all nearby fruit. When peaches lose their crop at beginning of season because of frost or very hard winter freeze new growth is insanely vigorous. The more vigorous the tree the more grafts will grow as well.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 8:43AM
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megamav(5a - NY)

Calville Blanc d'Hiver - Both look like takes

Calville Blanc d'Hiver #2 - Both look like takes

Reine des Reinettes - Both look like takes

Reine des Reinettes #2 - I did an awful job on this one, I didnt make the wedge long enough on one, and it ruined both.

Freyberg - Both look like takes

Belle de Boskoop, new central leader - No idea why these are so slow, this is the only water spout on the tree, and a spent an extra amount of time on these to get them just right, what gives? May have to regraft, will wait.

Belle de Boskoop - Another slow one, same variety, on the LARGEST branch on the tree. Looks like 1 took and 1 didnt.

Freyberg #2 - Scott, these are yours, looks like one may have taken, slow to warm. Bud closest to the camera is starting to break, but has slowed in recent days. Touched the wood, and its in there with good tension, didnt move it.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 2:26PM
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