What is your favorite grafting tape or method?

clarkinks(5b)May 13, 2014

I'm using para film tape currently and I'm relatively happy with it and tanglefoot or wax. What are you using? I have friends that use rubber bands, string, freezer bags, electric tape etc.

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clarkinks(5b)

This is the sealant I commonly use

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 5:37AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

I use the wide parafilm and wrap as tight as I can without breaking the parafilm. I can get a really tight seal with it which I feel helps push things together to make the graft stick. I use Doc Farwells grafting compound to seal the scion, but any sealer will work well. For grapes and other heat lovers I use a tar sealer.

Scott

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 9:41AM
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melikeeatplants

Buddy Tape works really well for me, much easier to use than parafilm. (Although I am a novice. Maybe for more experienced grafters parafilm is easy)

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 10:32AM
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marknmt

I depend on budding rubbers to pull the graft up snug, and then wrap with parafilm- touch up the cut end with toilet ring wax. Sometimes I use rubber tape. I'd use paper tape or, better, electical tape if I had to.

Important thing, and my weakness, is to make good cuts so that the scion and rootstock match well, use enough pressure to bring the parts into good contact, and then shut out air. I usually don't have to worry about grafts getting too hot, so I don't use aluminum foil tents. I probably would benefit from poly-bagging some of my grafts in cooler weather to encourage callousing.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 9:26PM
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clarkinks(5b)

When I was first learning I used duct tape and masking tape. Looking back on it I shake my head now remembering how bad that was in July-August pulling the tape. I thought the moisture and heat would break the tape down by the time it was ready to come off. I do miss how easy it was to hold those grafts in place. That's been many years ago and the trees are now very large. I tried sowing thread as well to try to get a tighter fit and faster growth. In the end parafilm and tanglefoot or as marknmt mentioned toilet ring wax are the ways I find cheapest and easiest overall. The wax I use on clefts with a great deal of success this year. Rind grafts and whips have always been my favorite but I think clefts are hard to beat by what I have seen so far. You guys all seem to have some great methods and some I have not heard of.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 9:49PM
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marc5(6aOH)

My favorite graft on fruit trees, including pawpaws, is a cleft graft that matches diameters. I tightly bind the graft with a rubber band, then wrap with pre-stretched Parafilm (1" wide). I wrap the entire scion all the up to the tip, where I make a little twist like a dairy cone top. Rarely do I miss with this setup. Wish I could come up with a graft for walnuts that is as successful.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 10:20PM
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TurCre(5 SoCentral NE)

1" wide plumber's tape. You can bind the cuts as tight as you like, very low cost. All my benchgrafts get a quick dip in just warm enough to melt paraffin wax to seal.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 10:49PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

parafilm and rubber bands (i cut them)...wrap everything as tight as i can get it...seems to work.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 10:51PM
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TurCre(5 SoCentral NE)

1" wide plumber's tape. You can bind the cuts as tight as you like, very low cost. All my benchgrafts get a quick dip in just warm enough to melt paraffin wax to seal.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 11:03PM
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lucky_p

Almost anything will work with apples/pears. Have a friend who operated a fruit tree nursery for decades; all they used to wrap apple/pear grafts with was masking tape.

I do a lot of oaks/pecans/hickories/walnuts/persimmons/mulberries/mayhaws/Che, etc.

I usually wrap the graft union and scion with parafilm, then overwrap the union with masking tape, then go over that with a rubber band.
Slow-callusing stuff, like the nut trees, I'll also cover the graft union with aluminum foil to shade it and decrease UV degradation of the rubber band.

Parafilm alone does not have enough strength or persistance that I'd count on it to hold even a pear graft together long enough for good callusing.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 11:39PM
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2010champsbcs

I use reversed electrical tape. Works great with a very high success rate. It's easily removed due to being reversed.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 5:53AM
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alan haigh

Vinyl electric tape. A longitudinal cut into the tape when graft is set (usually the following spring) only takes a moment and such wounds strengthen the wood. I'm not sure in what cases the extra heat is helpful or harmful, however. I can get close to100% take with pears and apples but my plums and peaches are not so consistent. I wrap the exposed new wood with buddy tape (expensive but convenient parafilm).

I graft on trees that have been growing outside for at least a year undisturbed and prefer using water sprouts on both sides of the graft at least as thick as a pencil. 1 year wood is smooth and straight and easiest to match up. I use a simple splice graft using a double bladed Italian pruning shear to make the cuts to get as narrow an angle as possible to increase cambium contact.

Cleft grafts take much, much too much time for me and I only use them when there are no convenient water sprouts.

I spend as much time as I can stand grafting every spring these days, both in my nursery and in orchards I manage. I do find it to be tedious work so I'm inclined to use the quickest and simplest affective method possible.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 6:27AM
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clarkinks(5b)

Anyone use nails or brads to graft? People apparently nailed their scion wood in place at one time when using the bark grafting method. I've been waiting for it to come up so I just thought I would throw it out there. I've never used it or personally known anyone who did but I could see how it would work. I have had birds land on my rind grafts and break them off when I top worked trees over which is the reason I have been experimenting more with clefts. My change to clefts has reduced the problem because the scion is held much tighter and centered more. Rind is a great fast method for top working and as mentioned above clefts take time.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 8:07AM
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Johnnysapples

With apples I like using my omega grafting tool. Its fast and easy. I only like to use it on scion wood that's larger than 1/4". Scion that's skinny I like to cleft graft. It holds the scion good and I find it takes well too. I like to cover the graft with bees wax and than tape with electric tape. The omega makes beautiful grafts. I don't use wax on those I just tape with electric tape. The tape adds great support! I find it easy to remove the tape in the fall or the next spring. I just unwrap it till it gets to the bark and cut it like Harvestman. In the picture is last years omega graft.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 8:19AM
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Johnnysapples

another angle of the same graft.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 8:22AM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

I've been grafting oaks-etc. for a few years after years of grafting conifers, however I'm now growing pecans, hickories, and walnuts from seed to be used later as rootstocks.

My friend Gary Fernald who's president of the Iowa Nut Growers Association did a bark graft demonstration and he showed a tool he machined his-self for bench grafting of pecans and walnuts.

This tool is real slick and a one of a kind. Gary used to work in a machining shop and forged it years-ago:
Modified French Grape Grafting Tool for Pecans and Walnuts

This bark grafting video is complete, however we didn't have a stake to add above the graft itself at the time we made this video. Gary returned and added a stake above the scion for birds to perch onto.

Dax

This post was edited by gardener365 on Thu, May 15, 14 at 8:14

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 10:44AM
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Johnnysapples

That's a cool homemade tool. I think a guy could make one that holds straight edge razors. It could be fabricated from the holders that hold the razors on up like in the picture. Thanks for posting.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 8:38PM
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gardener365(5b Illinois USA)

I took a good look at that tool of course and the blades were forged as well. He told me there are no replacements, yet it continues after many years of use to make clean cuts.

Gary has a lot of fruit and nut trees. It's quite inspiring.

Dax

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 8:24AM
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greyphase(6A)

Just a novice with 2 years grafting apples and pears under my belt but I am a fan of the parafilm tape and Gulf Wax to seal the scion. I use the Tanglefoot sealer on limb grafts. I use the cleft graft because A. I'm having success with it and B. I'm not coordinated enough to make a good whip and tongue graft :(.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 9:31AM
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clarkinks(5b)

When people are saying plumbers tape I'm assuming the white thin stuff you use to wrap pipe threads?

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 10:18AM
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bill999(z6 Pa)

Paraffin tape I bought on ebay a few years ago. It makes a tight wrap as you stretch it almost to the breaking point. It dissolves nicely as the summer progresses. A dab of roofing tar over the tape and any cuts.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 11:02AM
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alan haigh

I suggest those unfamiliar with it google splice graft. Please explain why anyone chooses a more difficult and time consuming method. The splice creates the most cambium contact of any method I know of and people generally succeed the first time they try it.

Folks who've only tried one method can't really supply very much information.

As a disclaimer, I've never tried bud grafting, but it clearly is more complicated than a simple splice. A cleft graft is inelegant, to say the least, and takes about 4 times as long, requiring much more material. I use it when I've no good wood on the tree I'm grafting to to use for a splice.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 1:11PM
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greyphase(6A)

Sorry Harvestman, but with a 93% success rate with the cleft graft in my 2nd year of grafting I ain't gonna change :). And yes most people that know me would say that I'm "inelegant" :).

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 8:16PM
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cousinfloyd

greyphase, I suspect you'd have a 93% success rate with apples and pears regardless of what method you used.

Harvestman, I've done some simple splice grafts, and they've worked nicely for me, but what I found difficult about them was keeping things lined up while I wrapped them. Even though it's a couple extra cuts, I like whip and tongue for apples and pears because I can put things together and then use both hands for wrapping.

For a sealant I like pine rosin, collected after it starts to thicken but well before it turns hard and glassy. It's free, it's soft enough to apply without a heat source to melt but won't melt away when it gets hot, it's all natural, and it's a natural tree wound sealant.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 10:10PM
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TurCre(5 SoCentral NE)

Yes ClarkinKS that is the stuff I am referring to as plumbers tape.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 10:19PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

Splice is more for same size wood, when I do, [very seldom]
then whip & tongue, two free hands for wrapping.

Bark Graft is my preferred method, doesn't matter what size.

Here is a link that might be useful: Konrad's modified bark grafting

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 12:38AM
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alan haigh

I like this much more than limiting this to a list of various methods and materials. It is more informative to know why.

Splices are easy for me because I collect most of my wood from trees I prune, so I have lots of it with a wide range of diameter to help me match things up to nearly identical diameter. I also have a double bladed pruning shear which helps to prune both sections to the same angle. I used to use a typical Felco type shear with a blade and bypass hook (the type I use for pruning) which makes it harder to get a long diagonal cut.

It is not difficult to hold the pieces together with one hand while wrapping with the other when they are well matched but I can certainly see how having both hands free is preferable.

If I only did a couple dozen grafts a year it wouldn't much matter what method I used.

Grey, inelelgant can mean shoddy as well as masculine and down to earth, I guess. What's your def? Cleft grafts are crude and require a couple years to properly heal. A tree transformed with clefts looks butchered for a long time, which doesn't go over well in the places I work.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 6:13AM
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greyphase(6A)

Harvest

I'm afraid old age is robbing me of my "masculinity", but would call myself "down to earth". My grafting is a hobby, not a job so if it suits me it's fine.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 6:50AM
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marknmt

I have to agree that clefts, especially of dissimilar sized pieces, heal slowly and can be ugly for a long time, but they are reliable and can be done under more trying circumstances.

My favorite for "elegance" has to be whip and tongue- splice is practically the same thing, without the helping interlock.

I think H-Man uses electrical tape, which is helpful in that it sticks from the initial contact, whereas budding rubbers and parafilm need an overlap to get started. I don't seem able to do a splice without adhesive tape of some kind.

I really much prefer grafting to similar sized wood, and now I'm trying to encourage a few watersprouts to train. Made some heading cuts this year to encourage vegetative growth and should have something to work with in 2015. This year looks to be a poor one for my apple, anyway, as I get it back into better bearing .

Some of my bark grafts turn out OK, some take a long time to heal well and appear to poorly attach until a few years have passed if the wood isn't fairly close in size. Of course, I lack Konrad's skills.

Chips are pretty reliable and easy. I seem to fumble over buds most of the time. Should be the easiest but my fingers are not delicate ... or I'm simply clumsy, take your pick!

As for pine resin: makes me recall that turpentine used to be used to disinfect cuts and scrapes, so it wouldn't surprise me if there's some anti-microbial activity there.

There's a lot of neat information in this thread, including a couple of gems that were new to me. Thanks to all.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 7:56AM
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cousinfloyd

With all this talk of "favorite grafting methods," I'm wondering to what degree people who graft lots of different species have different favorite methods for different species. It seems apples and pears are the easy species with which one can get good results with just about any method, but it seems from what I've read that various bark grafts (3-flap...) give significantly better results with a lot of nut species, and I've read that either T- or chip budding -- I can't remember which one it was -- isn't very successful with pawpaws. I'd be interested to know what it is about particular tree species that makes particular grafting methods work better or worse on them. I'd also be very interested to know what alternative grafting methods any of you use for particular species besides your general favorite method that you use otherwise. Konrad, for instance, do you use your modified bark graft on every species you graft? I mostly default to whip and tongue, because it's the first method I learned, and I'm most comfortable with it, and it does seem structurally strong, but especially with lower success rate species (which for me so far has been mulberries, persimmons, and nuts) I'd like to use whatever grafting method yields the highest success rate with that particular species. This year I've mostly followed David Osborn's persimmon bark grafting tutorial where I make two cuts in the rootstock, peel the flap of bark down, shave some wood away, then angle the scion, and scrape the bark off it. I suppose scraping bark away to expose the cambium wouldn't work at all well with other species, though. Any thoughts on fitting particular grafting methods to particular species?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 8:05AM
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alan haigh

Yes, the electric tape probably makes holding the wood with one hand and pulling the tape with the other possible. I sometimes wonder if the black tape may be a factor with the lower take rate I get with stone fruit- maybe overheating the wood. You could start wrapping below and tuck in the end before even reaching for the scion piece.

Grey, your graft looks plenty elegant to me. I was thinking about MY cleft grafts where I'm usually inserting small pieces of scion wood into at least 2" diameter cuts- they are plenty ugly. I've never considered using it for same diametered pieces, but it makes a lot of sense and would be reasonably quick.

I too am interested in best methods for other species. I'd like to graft some native persimmons because one of my clients has a really tasty one- I think its a Suziki or some similar name- Lee Reich was the consultant where the orchard containing it was planted and it's probably his favorite variety.

I also find it pretty easy to start Paw Paws from seed and would like to try more grafting of them. My splices haven't worked well for them unless I take the plants into my green house. The high humidity there seems to help them take.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 12:00PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

Similar to Greyphase, I'm fairly new to grafting (2nd year) and have had good success with cleft grafts. Last year I had 58% (11/19) success grafting onto established apple tree. This year, I've improved to 83% (29/35), which will hopefully go higher, as some of the grafts are pretty recent.

The main reason I haven't used the Splice and Whip and Tongue grafts is that when I tried to practice it with my prunings, I kept butchering it. I order most of my scionwood, so there is only so much I can waste before I get no graft. This year I've made over 100 grafts (mostly apples and pears, but I've also done some peaches, plums, mulberry, grapes, and persimmons). I only screwed up about 5 cleft grafts so badly that I wasted wood. In most of those, I was able to move up a bit on the scion and reduce the number of buds a bit (usually from 3 to 2).

As Harvestman noted, cleft can be useful when you are working with mismatched sizes. About a third of my apple grafts this year are double-cleft grafts, where I used 2 smaller scions, in one graft.

It is time-consuming, but I think all my note-taking uses just as much time. I've actually cut back on it, as when first started, I actually recorded the scion width (in mm), length, number of buds, etc, for each graft.

Just before I grafted the peaches, I watched a video on grafting Mangoes, where they used a side-graft. It looked interesting and I figured that I could shave a bit of bark off and tie things straight. So, I tried it 3 times with the peaches and at least two are greening up. It was only 2 weeks ago, so I have hope for some of the others. Of the cleft-grafted peaches, at least 2 of the 4 also took.

For next year, I think I'll need to look into some double-bladed pruners. I bet I could make more even cuts with that, than with a knife.

While some of my cleft grafts from last year have grown only a little, I had others which put on 3+ feet of growth. In the below pic (currently a 20 variety tree), you can see 2-3 branches which I've recently tied down. They Ross Nonpareil and Holstein grafts from last spring.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 12:26PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

Here's a pic of two grafts I made on 4/8 (PI 613958, 96-07-07, a Kazakhstan apple). I need to snip off the flowers from the one on the right.

Before making the final cuts, I wrap the scion in pre-stretched parafilm. Then, after I have both parts cut and the scion inserted, I tie it up with green garden tape (non-sticky plant-ties which Home Depot sells). This gives it some strength and pulls the wood together in spots where my cuts weren't even enough. Then, I wrap some more parafilm around the tape at the union. I only left out this step on 4 grafts this year and 2 of them failed. While the parafilm I pre-wrap the scion with has to be thin for the buds to break through, you can really lay it thick on the graft union.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 12:37PM
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clarkinks(5b)

This is an example of a pear I top worked using a cleft graft, toilet seal wax and para film this year. The grafts on the west side have all grown out and on the east side not budded yet on these two trees that are side by side.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 7:29PM
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clarkinks(5b)

TurCre I may try that tape out next year on a couple of trees. Thanks for all the methods listed above I know some of you are experts among experts in grafting and your photos and methods demonstrate that. Also as a follow up my grafts on the cooler east side of the trees are now budding out as well. Pears, plums, and apples did fine this year and peaches and apricots did not do well at all due to weather conditions. I plan to graft them over again with some scions I have stored.

This post was edited by ClarkinKS on Mon, May 26, 14 at 14:40

    Bookmark   May 26, 2014 at 8:15AM
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