"Lost" apple graft surpises & delights-

marknmtJuly 31, 2013

My bookkeeping on my apple frankentree is fair but not great, and when a windstorm blew a bunch of tag labels off of new grafts I was at a loss to name them, although I knew all the possible names. But to add injury to the insult, several of the grafts failed to emerge.

Instead of cutting them off the next spring I left them on and nocked the tree just above them, and they took off nicely after that. But I still didn't know what to call them. On one of them, at least, the mystery is solved. The healthy three-foot branch is carrying several nice, big apples and they almost have to be Pristine.

Another "Wheee!" moment! Gotta love the little successes, ay?

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megamav(5a - NY)


What do you mean by "nocked"?
What effect does that have?


    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 3:39PM
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Hi Eric,

"Nocking" means cutting out a sliver of bark above the graft to interrupt the flow of hormones that halt the emergence of new buds- it apparently prevents the tree from keeping the new growth dormant. It doesn't always work but it often seems to help. We talked about it here three or four years ago, if memory serves.

I use a jack knife to make two parallel slices about an inch above the branch to which I am grafting. The slices are quite close together- 1/8" works- and right through the cambium to the wood. Remove the strip. The wound heals but the bud gets time to develop. The slices extend well past the edges of the grafted branch but not all the way around. I don't do it all the time but if a graft hasn't emerged within about three weeks I I do. Some people use a saw blade to make the groove.

Hope that helps.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 4:08PM
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megamav(5a - NY)

Must be before my time starting out here...
Sounds like the same concept of bark ringing to induce fruiting.
How long do you wait to do this after grafting?
I am going to start grafting lower on my frankencrab starting this spring with existing wood. I've read grafting lower can be more difficult, im wondering if this practice would help with that.

You let your grafts fruit first year?


    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 9:08PM
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Hi again Eric.

It is very much the same concept as bark ringing to induce fruiting- that may have been the jumping-off point for the idea, I don't recall for sure. But yeah, for that's the concept, no doubt.

I figure that if a graft on an apple or pear isn't expressing within three weeks or so it either is badly done or is being suppressed. Either way it doesn't hurt to do a little minor surgery. But originally I tried it on year-old grafts that were lying dormant, but had calloused over. When those worked I started to get encouraged and a little excited. I wondered how many grafts that I wrote off as failures due to poor workmanship were actually held back by competition. So now whenever I have a reluctant graft I try it. Not that I don't ever experience out-and-out failures!

It seems especially applicable on grafts done on the lower part of the tree. I suspect that effect of the flow of hormones from the higher parts of the tree is additive and cumulative, and when you think about it that makes all the sense in the world. The unpruned, natural tree gains very little from vegetative growth in the dark part of the tree, and so has evolved ways to encourage the outer, upper canopy.



This post was edited by marknmt on Wed, Jul 31, 13 at 21:33

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 9:30PM
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megamav(5a - NY)

I'll have to remember this lesson from you experienced grafters.
I had a Calville Blanc graft that started callousing over and green but the buds didnt move, so I decided to restart the graft with a new cut and new scions.
Dumb luck, it worked, but I used a terminal bud stick and only the end bud started the graft moving, probably because of hormonal influence I dont understand.

I dont fully understand how all of the different parts of the tree work with hormones, terminal buds, upper, lower wood of the tree. Im thinking a horticultural degree would need to replace my Computer Science and Psychology degrees in order to understand it all.

Thanks for sharing your experience, its one less time I'll scratch my head and waste scion wood.

Learning, always learning,


    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 9:57PM
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"Learning, always learning, "

Yup. Ain't we all!

I'm very much in the minor leagues in this conference, so don't take my guesses, suppositions and estimations too seriously. Sometimes I think the best an honest person can do is to expose their weaknesses openly enough that others feel that it's OK to debate it, and when I mention stuff here it's in that spirit.

Keep on keepin' on,


    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 10:40PM
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yukkuri_kame(Sunset 19 / USDA 9)

If there's one thing I've learned about trees (and grafts) is never give up until at least year after you've given up.

A branch broke off my valencia orange this past spring. I have a large but lousy-tasting mandarin or something I've been wanting to graft something else onto, so I tried to turn my loss into a gain. I did a quick 'emergency' grafting onto the mandarin, but it appeared nothing took and all looked dried up. Then today, I noticed a left that looked larger-than-the-rest, sure enough a valencia bud took, and I noticed there is one more bud that looks promising.

If I ever name my orchard it will be "Left-For-Dead Orchards" or something like that.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 11:49PM
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