Please tell me about budding

canadianplantJune 20, 2014

I was thinking of trying to bud some of my fruit trees. Anyone have any tips for the beginner?

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Keys for T budding IME:

Rootstock bark must be slipping very well for high success.
Also helps if scion bark is same but not as essential.
Remove wood from scion bud for best fit under bark.
Fit and no damage essential.
Bud must be under both flaps of T.
I loosen flaps of T with fingernails using side pressure.
Cut ramp leading bud into top of the T.
Wrap with budding rubbers.
Wait 2 weeks to force.

Need any explanation? I get 90-100% takes if conditions right.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 8:05PM
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Im having some problems understanding what you mean when you mention "bark slipping". Im also not to sure how to know how deep to cut?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 8:20PM
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Bark slipping means the bark separates readily from the wood beneath. This happens once the tree starts growing vigorously in the spring (but I don't know how long it's true on through the season.)

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 9:22PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Go out on one of your fruit trees that is growing rapidly. Make a T slit in the bark. A sharp blade easily cuts through the bark but not into the wood using light to moderate pressure. Now take your finger nail and apply sideways pressure on the bark right below cross of T working down from there. Support that finger with another resting on the tree. Very gently push the bark sideways until you see and feel it give just a little. You want to loosen the rootstock bark below the cross of the T so that the bud can slid underneath. Just slightly loose, not ripped off or torn in any way.

It would really be easier to learn about bark slipping by cutting off a rapidly growing shoot on any tree about 3/8 to 1/2 inch diameter, the right size for rootstock, scion best 1/8 smaller. On that shoot slit into the bark and try to peal it off. After you see what this looks like you could try making the T and loosening the bark. Practice until you are good at that.

Then practice cutting the bud about 3/4 inch long and removing the wood from that bud. You do that by cutting under the bud from below. This cut is into the wood about 1/3 diameter of wood. Cut through bark above the bud, not thought wood. Very gently loosen bark above bud and using sideways and down pressure pushing the bud off minus the wood. Bud is now gently inserted under both flaps of bark starting at cross of T. Cut the leaves off budwood leaving about 1/4 inch of petiole. You apply pressure on the stub of petiole to slide bud under bark.

Until you can perform those tasks without damaging bark or bud you aren't ready to bud. It takes quit a bit of dexterity and good eyesight to do it without damage. Your chance to be a surgeon!!

The plus is no storage of scion wood and minimal tools and supplies; sharp knife one sided blade best and budding rubbers are all you need.

PS: Leaves must be removed from budwood as soon as it's cut from the tree so it won't dry out. Use immediately.

This post was edited by fruitnut on Fri, Jun 20, 14 at 21:37

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 9:32PM
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Best description I've ever seen of the intricacies of budding, and helpful to me in a number of the details. Thank you.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 10:25PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Chip budding here

Biggest thing...make sure you get cambium contact ...on both sides. Green touches green. Wrap tight with budding tape and then wrap the whole works with a rubber band ...

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 10:33PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I just budded about 50 Krymsk 1 rootstock with various stone fruit. It looks like they all took but I did do two buds per tree. Some of the budwood was as small as a tooth pick and not slipping, all I had. That's what tests your budding skill. On one I've actually got growth from the tip bud on the shoot, basically the end of a tooth pick and it will make a new tree.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 10:48PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Here's some pictures of my Krymsk 1 budded 4 wks ago and forced two wks ago. These are spaced 2ft by 6ft and will be trellised as pictured.

In the center are new fig cuttings rooted this winter.

An apricot with two T buds.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 12:25PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)


Not even sure there would be time to force buds here and get them hardened off in time for winter...i've always dormant budded (buds stay dormant until next spring).

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 1:14PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX


I don't force after about July but that's with a growing season that stretches until November.

When I've budded in August and not forced until the following spring, I lose many buds over the winter. I don't understand why. Sometimes a secondary bud will push and save the tree. I had that happen to an apricot this spring and the tree is now 6ft tall, highly branched, and covered with fruit buds.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 1:23PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

I'm not a bud grafter much,..I hate to wait for spring, rather do spring scion graft and see results in a couple of weeks.

Fruitnut,..looking good!
Where do you buy Krymsk 1 from? Please let me know if anybody knows of a Canadian source. I was supposed get one for testing this spring, instead I got a Krymsk 6, [cherry stock]

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 1:48PM
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I will be budding a Euro plum onto my hybrid "toka". Ill be trying to bud some apple on a macintosh seedling too.

That was a great description fruitnut thanks!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 1:54PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I've bought from Raintree and The Tree Connection out of Oregon. Krymsk 1 isn't very compatible with peach and nectarine but it has given me very high brix fruit on everything I've tried which includes peach, nectarine, apricot, plum, and pluot.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 1:57PM
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How do you force the buds? And what are the dis/advantages of this?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 2:33PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

You force by cutting off everything above the bud and most below. Make the new bud or graft the highest point on the tree and cut off enough below to greatly reduce water use. You want the tree to suddenly be short on leaves and therefore inclined to grow new ones asap. I do leave a nurse limb, if there is one, that originates below the bud/graft. This is to nourish the roots while new leaves grow or in case the graft fails. I just cut those off my K1 budded trees when I could see that the budded varieties were pushing.

I'm now rubbing off all buds pushing from the K1. I want all growth forced into the new variety. I won't get much fruit next yr but should get a nice crop in 2016.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 2:54PM
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Thanks. That makes sense. I've seen trees push new buds after summer pruning, that would be essentially the same thing.

In colder climates, would this expose the new sprout to risk from failure to harden?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 3:02PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Yes it could winter kill if forced too late depending on climate. That's why Frank and konrad are using techniques that allow forcing in early spring. In IL you should be able to bud in early June and force by this time of year. Maybe that's too late for some things.

Budwood is ready when the bark changes from green to red or brown. This is usually after about 2ft of growth in spring. It might work sooner if you stick with the oldest buds. I only use buds where I can see a single bud in the leaf axial. The lowest leaves may not have an associated vegetative bud.

After you force the bud don't fertilize or water. Try to harden the growth off asap.

My plan if buds fail now would be to try budding in say September with my long season, then chip bud with dormant scions in March or graft in April. If that fails try budding again in May.

PS: I've seen a two person team of pros doing a thousand T buds a day, one inserting and one tying the buds. Those guys cut the T and loosen the bark in two quick slices. Then one slice to remove the bud and push it in. They don't take the wood out. Removing wood makes a better fit especially on small caliper rootstocks. On large caliper rootstocks I sometimes don't remove the wood because of thick bark. It's easier to insert the bud into thick-barked stock with wood intact.

This post was edited by fruitnut on Sat, Jun 21, 14 at 15:59

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 3:33PM
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Well, since I planned to bud some apples this year, I guess it's time to get at it!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 9:41PM
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