On field grafting failure

ltiltonMay 18, 2012

It seems that none of my cleft and bark grafts on pear and apple trees took, and I think it's because either:

a) Scion wood was too old

b) I did it all wrong

c) I painted that Doc Farwell's stuff on the grafts and it seeped in to the clefts and coated the cambium layers. Is this likely?

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megamav(5a - NY)

My one cleft attempt didnt work either, and I lined everything up pretty good.
I attempted when the sap started to flow out of pruning cuts on my trees mid-late March. Beginning to wonder if the freezes had something to do with it. Possibly making it too early to graft.

-Eric
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    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 9:56AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

Scionwood too old is usually pretty obvious, its either wrinkled ("wizened"), fungal, already budding out, or rubbery.

Yes you could have done it wrong, there are a million things to go wrong. Painting Doc Farwells directly on a graft is something I never do. I always cover with parafilm first; if you don't have that use masking tape etc. One graft I did I only partly covered and you could see one side did not take due to the paint that seeped in. Usually the paint doesn't go all the way in so it hardly ever does in grafts, but in theory it could.

I think Eric has an important point esp with this odd spring. Weather is important. My apple grafts pretty much stalled for about a month and I thought they were goners, but now they are going well. Eric, March in zone 5 sounds waaay too early, even here in zone 7 I never graft in March.

Scott

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 11:24AM
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ltilton

I may have done it too late, at the end of April. But I'm gravitating towards the Doc Farwell's application.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 11:28AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

End of April is no problem, unless it was in a hot streak. I usually am grafting into early May, usually something fails that I have to re-graft. Speaking of re-grafting, if its not getting up into the high 80's yet cut off an inch or two more from the stock and try again. This spring I had one apricot fail and I re-grafted it two weeks ago and the re-grafts are just starting to take off.

Scott

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 11:57AM
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ltilton

Alas, I have no more scion wood of those varieties. They came from a swap.

I may be able to get some budwood this summer and fail doing that, too.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 2:00PM
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megamav(5a - NY)

Scott,

I should have known better, but im a newbie.
I wanted the experience in doing a cleft as it was my first one. I think it did OK on it, just too early like you said.
The weather was in the 80s for a week, sap was starting to flow and buds swell, so I did it.
Turns out the odd weather isnt just fooling the trees.
Good thing it wasnt a variety I really wanted, my parents have Liberty, so no loss there.

What now, should I just cut off the split wood and start over next year with a different graft?
I've got quite the length of branch to work with, probably another 18".

-Eric
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    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 3:22PM
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ltilton

I figure - we learn by failing.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 3:36PM
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marknmt

Like ltilton says, we learn by failing.

But it may be too early to count failure just yet. Sometimes events conspire to throw timing off. I agree with the sluggish because-of-cold weather theory.

Give your grafts some time and you may be surprised. I certainly hope I am! I have a number I am still waiting on.

And FWIW, I keep it as simple as I can. Make the graft (and take all the time you need to to make a good fit) and wrap it with a rubber to pull the parts together, then go over the whole thing with parafilm. If the tip of the rootstock or the tip of the scion either one is hard to wrap touch it up with wax (I like the toilet bowl wax too) or roofing tar.

If you're doing spring grafting and you want to wrap the entire scion in parafilm it might be useful to pre-wrap the long end before you insert it into the rootstock. I find it clumsy to try to tightly wrap the scion after it is inserted- seems to make the joint wiggle a lot.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2012 at 10:12PM
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ltilton

Well, what do you know! A couple of the pear grafts did take! Despite me.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2012 at 12:51PM
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marknmt

I have tried half a dozen times to respond to this post but keep getting rejected; I was, however able to respond to another! But I'm trying again.

Glad to hear something's developed. My grafts were mostly late this year. One still has to show, but I think I see swelling through the parafilm. I unwrapped one (cleft) and ended up dislodging the scion. Perhaps I could have re-inserted it right then but I was so disgusted I didn't; looks like the backup bud may have a chance, though.

Anyhow, congratulations and good luck with the rest.

:-)M

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 7:44AM
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Noogy(6 sw mi)

Megamav,
"cleft attempt didnt work either, and I lined everything up pretty good"
90% of my clefts made it. In an attempt to match the cambium, sometimes we miss it entirely. Next time misalign it slightly as to increase chance of contact.
crossing w/contact vs. parallel and missing as i understand it.
My attempts at chip budding failed, but my t budding is doing great.
Thanks to those who provided me with wood, this forum and You Tube.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 9:06AM
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ltilton

I did about a dozen, over 6 weeks ago, and was very surprised to see these two new twigs on the pear. None of the apples show any signs of life. I'm pretty sure it was my misuse of the yellow glop that was responsible for most of the failure.

Think I'll try some budding on the apple. This is the right time of year, I think?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 9:13AM
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marknmt

What Noogy said. A very slight angle to the scion -a little proud at the top and a little inset at the bottom or vice-versa- helps.

Sometimes when I'm cutting the scion I have trouble getting it narrow enough at the thick part of the wedge and thin enough at the narrow part, and I end up with a sliver of bark trying to slide off of the scion. I'm sure that doesn't help things either.

This year I didn't water my apple just before top-working it- just spaced it out. I'd guess that contributed to a brittle quality in some of the wood and that makes it harder.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 9:33AM
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marknmt

Is it time for budding? I was thinking a few more weeks before budsticks are ready. (Unless you still have dormant buds in the cooler. All my scions are long past that!)

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 9:36AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

ltilton-

I wouldn't bud yet around here..wait until July or even August. Remember that the bud stays dormant all winter. I had great success last year with budding. I prefer budding now that I've seen how successful it can be. The only problem is finding wood that is a good match to bud onto. If you have huge trees with not a lot of thinner branches, it can be tough to find a spot to bud onto and when you do, it can be 10ft up in the air...

QUESTION:
Can bud wood be mailed? Will it survive in the mail???

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 10:20AM
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Noogy(6 sw mi)

FrankTank-
I would have a difficult time using budwood exposed to the heat.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 11:15AM
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ltilton

Frank - I've seen quite a few discussions of budding, but they mostly focus on the technique and ignore the question of where on the tree you want to place the buds.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 12:41PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Ltilton-

I think the lower the better...but finding suitable sized wood on a lower branch is not easy, unless you give the tree a good haircut early in the season, to force lower b ranching... I would assume, even a thicker branch could be budded, if you could get the bud wood to stay in place (cambium contact)???

To me it depends on what your goal is. Are you trying to build a multiple variety tree? Are you trying to change a tree over to a different variety? Its going to be a lot more difficult on an older tree to do... On young trees, there is plenty of thin diameter wood to work with.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 1:30PM
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Noogy(6 sw mi)

Frank- I successfully t-budded onto a trunk and got the flaps/contact to stay with a staplegun. You can also tack it down with a fine finish nail.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 1:32PM
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ltilton

But aren't grafts and buds lower down subject to shading from longer branches above them? I've been going higher.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 1:41PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

I would imagine you would want to prune out branches above and allow the bud to fill in that area? I'm going to do some experimenting with a Puget Gold apricot that I plan on budding over to a few different peaches/plums. I'll try to take a bunch of pictures/video this summer and next spring/summer. Puget Gold is garbage without some sort of fungicide spray program. I pruned it back aggressively last year and again early this spring, so i have a lot of perfect sized shoots to bud onto.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 2:54PM
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ltilton

There's an old, half-dead apricot a couple blocks from me that seems to set a crop of fruit every year, against all odds. I want to put some buds from such a hardy tree onto my Harglows.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 3:06PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

There you go...just get some pencil sized sticks of budwood...strip off the leaves, take a few chips out and slip them in...I use rubber bands/parafilm... make sure its a mature bud (or so i've read)...

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 3:29PM
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ltilton

And what's the best way to make sure it's a mature bud?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 4:58PM
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marknmt

Glad to be following this thread. My plans for budding are similar to ltilton's: I want to harvest buds from local (probably seedling) trees to slip into marianna rootstock I have. The rootstock is left from a Mormon I bought two years ago which didn't make it through the first winter. The rootstock "stooled" itself into three distinct trees and I plan to bud to all three.

I'm just waiting for the right time to grab the buds.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 7:52PM
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ltilton

When I moved here, there were three mature trees - 2 Keiffer pears and a kind of yellow apple I've never identified. I took out one of the pears, kept the other two. Keiffers can be canned, if you want to take the trouble, and the apple is good for cooking, makes decent applesauce.

I've been wanting to graft them over to better varieties.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 8:05PM
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marc5(6aOH)

Frank,

Two years ago I was sent some apple budwood near the end of summer. It was sent USPS priority during a hot week, and my wife accidently left it in a hot car after picking up the mail. The bud sticks were well wrapped--plenty of moist paper inside a plastic bag. I was skeptical, but every bud I placed took. I'm sold on summer budding. And don't worry about mailing it.

Marc

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 11:20PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Good to know Marc... I think the key is keeping everything moist...

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 11:51PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

I tried grafting for the first time this year, took a peach volunteer that was in a less than desirable spot, lopped off a few smaller branches put my scions in. I got them from a grafting class. My dad had showed me how to graft decades ago, but not sure any of those took

To my surprise almost all of them took. BUT I did not think about pruning the grafts soon enough and a big wind took out a few.

Now to wait and see what took, next year. (I have no idea other than peach-nectarine-plum as options)

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 2:03AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

"It was sent USPS priority during a hot week, and my wife accidently left it in a hot car after picking up the mail. The bud sticks were well wrapped--plenty of moist paper inside a plastic bag. I was skeptical, but every bud I placed took. I'm sold on summer budding."

That's good to know Marc. Scott is sending me some wood now and I've wondered how fresh budwood has to be.

Summer budding is the only way I've been able to graft peaches, but the wood I've always budded is fresh cut off the tree.

I grafted 6 buds about a month ago from current season wood. None of the buds had formed but I took the graft wood where there was a leaf. I wanted to see if buds would form after grafting (after all, they continue to form on the donor tree). All but one of the grafts took, but only one graft went ahead and formed a bud and started growing.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 7:50AM
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