Grafting Cherry Trees

Edymnion(7a)March 15, 2012

I currently have two cherry trees, a Bing and... I honestly don't recall at the moment what the other is, not particularly important for this though.

They've been in the ground a couple years now, and are doing fairly well. To increase pollination, I want to try trading branches between them. They're getting rather tall anyway, so I figure I'll be able to kill two birds with one stone. Whatever I prune off of one I can attempt to graft onto the other.

I have never grafted a tree before, but I have done approach grafting on other things (namely peppers). I suppose my main questions would be:

1) What is the best time of year to attempt grafts on cherry trees? Winter when they're dormant and not relying on the roots for food as much, spring when they're actively budding out and getting ready to grow (in the mood, so to speak), or middle of summer when they're healthy and strong?

2) My trees are fairly vertical, I'd like to see about making them a little bushier. What kind of graft would be best for this?

I can research how to do the grafts on my own, once I know when to do them, and which ones are best to do for my specific situation.

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dmtaylor(5a (WI))

I haven't got my cherry tree yet, but assuming grafting a cherry is anything like it is for apples, here are some ideas:

Do your pruning and scion collection during dormancy. I'm not sure where you are, but here in the northern hemisphere (I am in Wisconsin), right about now in March is a good time for collecting scion wood. Bag it and put it into the refrigerator until later.

Best time for grafting is when the trees just start to leaf out. An experienced friend of mine says the best time is when you see the first dandelion bloom, then you know it's time. My guess is mid-April, but with this odd weather, who knows. You basically want to make sure the sap is running in the tree before you graft on.

I'd consider chopping the tops off your trees, and throwing most of the extra wood away, but save some scions from each, make the trade and then graft up top near or on the central leader. Basically trade the tops of the two trees -- I mean, why not?! Then your new scions in the tops of the trees will get maximum sunlight which should help ensure success, assuming they don't dry out. You might want to graft two or three sticks onto each tree just to ensure success, because occasionally they die. Any graft technique should work -- saddle, whip & tongue, cleft, bench -- whatever you prefer, and based on the size of the wood you're grafting together.

Best of luck to you.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 10:37PM
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I was thinking about cleft grafting around the sides of the trunk in order to get them to be fuller and bushier. Cut a wedge in the side of the trunk at an angle, cut the scion to a wedge point, smoosh 'em together, tie 'em down and smear on the wound putty, and hope for the best.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 2:15PM
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