pruning before grafting?

canadianplantApril 4, 2014

just trying to remember if you prune before grafting or graft before pruning?

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I would prune first, make room for the grafts, more roots to drive the new grafts. if you did the grafting first you might cut it off. :)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2014 at 10:44PM
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alan haigh

I graft onto water sprouts so when pruning first I sometimes mark the sprouts I may be using so as not to accidentally remove well positioned sprouts.

Otherwise the two are not really much related, except that pruning after shoot growth begins is slightly dwarfing, and the more vigorous the tree the better grafts tend to take.

Here in SW NY I believe that apple grafts sometimes establish much better if grafting is done a few days before or just at first growth so the grafts start growing almost the same time as the rest of the tree. The grafts seem to become pest magnets when they are the most tender growth on the tree.

This is a regional issue, of course and also my unscientific evaluation- never read it mentioned elsewhere. Late taking grafts often grow well at first and then leaf hoppers seem to suck the life out of them- weekly applications of pesticides is a lot of work to prevent this.

Stone fruit grafts here seem to do better if you wait until trees are in vigorous growth and/or the weather is warm.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 7:37AM
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Just did some refresher reading. The U of Minn states grafting should be done around the time of bud break to bloom. They also say to prune around the time the buds swell....

I belive the buds are swelling on most of my trees but we still have 2 or three feet of snow on the ground.....

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 2:31AM
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alan haigh

Canadian, every year I graft from a few days before first growth (pears and apples) till after bloom (for stone fruit). In Minnesota conditions may be different but here the earliest grafts generally get the most growth. I doubt that "statement" is researched- but then my experience is not researched either and only pertains to maybe 200 grafts at 3 different sites that were made before first growth on water sprouts of large, well established trees. This was over the last 10 seasons, or so. I have never done later grafts at these sites to compare and the comparison is based on similar trees at other sites.

I believe apples and pears tend to get most of their annual growth on their first surge of growth. Grafts tend to emerge later than the rest of the tree and it appears the later they emerge the less benefit they get from this surge of growth. J. plums and peaches certainly are more "indeterminate" in their growth habit and continue vigorous growth well into summer.

The reason I tried to graft so early is because they were sites far north from me and out of the way and I had to go up there to prune the trees so I did both chores on the same day. When I first tried it, I thought they might not take because of statements like the one you mention.

I find grafting even more tedious than thinning fruit but the results can be equally exciting.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 6:34AM
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The U of Minn has been consistently been my go to site for info. IF only because many of the hardy fruits I grow were bred there, or at least researched. I am only 8 hours north of them, so it is by far the closest example of my area in which to gather information from. Im sure it isnt perfect, but so far they seem the best in my situation.

They did state stone fruits can be grafted well into the growing season. I ve read several people and grow programs state the same thing about plums as well. The only thing Ill be grafting onto my Jap plums will be prunus nigra.

I have been tempted to graft and prune at the same time. Up here the growing season literally slaps you in the face and comes out of nowhere. I will definetly be pruning within the next week or two (sooner more then likely since the street trees all over town are starting to pop buds.

I just started grafting two seasons ago and failed everytime because i did it way too early. This season it seems my timing is good...

The fun part is that Ill be grafting Euro pears to russian hybrids and a euro seedling. Flemish beauty onto John and golden spice pear, and the FB onto my bosc seedlng.... My spartan apple scions moulded in the fridge so no go again this year :(

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 3:19PM
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alan haigh

If you lost grafts by doing it too early I can see why you'd closely follow guidelines. If it gets too cold after the graft it can kill it- I know that, but I expect it needs to get in the low '20's at least. I do not know how low the temps got at the sites where I grafted early- but I assume they must of seen some very hard frosts at least on a couple of those years.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 4:25PM
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I concur with Hman, I'm z5 Maine, and I usually am thinking about pruning well in advance of grafting. Pruning for me extends from around Feb 1- April 15, and grafting would be around April 21 on. I don't see why you couldn't do them around the same time on individual trees, however. I wait to see buds swelling and showing that sliver of green before I get into top-working, nighttime lows in the mid 20s F. Interesting and good to know that I might be better off waiting a bit on the stone fruit because I have some prunus americana seedling rootstock, nicely feathered, in the ground that I want to graft some 3-in-ones with japanese hybrid cultivars.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 5:48PM
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