How long for grafts on apple trees to take?

Orchardman(7)May 11, 2014

Hi I'm new to the forum and getting into growing fruit trees the last few years. This I decided to try to graft some apple trees. I grafted 21 scions of three different varieties on M111 rootstock beginning in mid March through early April. So far only 7 of the scions have leaves on them. Should I give the others longer to take or give up on them?

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Tony(Zone 5. Omaha, Nebraska)


apples are fairly easy to take. The scions that show wrinkle and some what dry are probably dead. In addition, you need to rub off all the new growths below the union so all the energy will go the new grafts. You can also un-wrap the tape gently to see if there are any callous formation. Good luck.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 1:28PM
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Thanks Tony, So I should remove the leaves that have formed on the rootstock?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 2:16PM
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Tony(Zone 5. Omaha, Nebraska)

Yes. Rubbed off all the growth below your scion.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 5:07PM
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you don't say what zone you are in, that gives info on how late some are. My first try at grafting I had some that were agonizingly slow to open.

This year I chose to graft later for less exposure to misc damage and faster results. I grafted the week of April 21 and they are just opening now.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 6:39PM
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If the graft callouses over but the bud doesn't emerge it may not mean that the entire scion is dead. Different things can retard or stop the obvious buds from developing, but there may be another viable bud hidden beneath the obvious one, and that may emerge later- I've had them show up a full year later.

I found when grafting to branches that it also helps to cut a notch through the bark and the cambium, right to the wood, on the main trunk just above the graft. Make the nock about 1/8" to 1/4"wide and long enough to "shade" the graft. I had several aged scions emerge after I did just that. But you are grafting to new rootstocks, and that will be different from the mature tree I use as rootstock.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 7:41PM
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I forgot to mention I am in Zone 7 and we have a colder than normal spring this year.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 8:58PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

I'm on the border between 6 and 7 and have also had a colder than normal spring. I've been grafting a lot this spring, much of it in the 2nd week of April, about a month ago.

New rootstocks seem to be much harder to succeed with, than top-working existing trees. Last year (in my first year of grafting), I got takes only 2 of 13 new rootstocks. Of course, 1 was then killed over the winter. It is good that I also used most of the wood in top-working a tree.

I think one of the main issues is that as soon as I grafted, I potted up the rootstock and put it in the yard. This year, I've gotten much better results with:

a.) Immediately potting up the rootstock, then moving it to a humidified, pretty dark (North facing window) room for 2 weeks, before moving it to a bright room (South facing double doors). 3 of 4 takes and I'm optimistic about the 4th, as it is notoriously slow to get started (Court Pendu Rose).
b.) The other approach I took is to packed the grafted rootstocks back up in plastic, with the roots in moist, shredded paper and put it all in a 5 gallon bucket. I put the bucket into the humidified dark room for about a week, then planted them outside. So far, 3 for 5, but the other two don't look bad and I'll give them some more time.

It is also possible that my technique has improved a bit- the only way it could get worse is if I cut myself more :) But, poor skills and all, top-working still did OK last year. This year, the apple top-works I did in the same general time-frame are 12/16, so far.

Pears are even easier- I'm 8 for 9 on top-working them this year. The only failure is described in my notes as "ugly graft". I even had 2 interstem grafts take on potted quince rootstocks (grafting a Magness interstem and the scion at the same time)

I really like Marknmt's idea of the notching to help the graft along (in a top-working scenario where the graft isn't at the absolute top of the tree). I've heard of the idea to generate branches, but it makes sense that you could apply it to getting some growth from a grafted bud.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 11:03PM
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I may try that notching idea, thanks.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 10:13AM
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Thanks for the replies I have noticed another one starting to leaf out. They just be a little slow due to the cold weather this year.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 9:06PM
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I have one graft out of 120 that didn't sprout out leaves last year but callused up. This year the buds are starting to open. It wasn't the best choice of wood. It was the a tip with lots of buds. I used tyvek tape when I grafted it.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 9:36AM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

In the 3 days since I last posted, several more of the grafts made in the 2nd week of April have started to take. So a decent chunk take just over a month.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 4:34PM
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