Pears - graft or bud?

ltiltonSeptember 2, 2013

I've got this ongoing project to topwork my Keiffer into a frankenpear with better varieties, and I've had a bit of success with grafting. I've heard that pears are very easy to graft and so it seems.

I've just been trying some budding on my stone fruit, which I understand to have a better potential for success than with grafting. Not that I've actually had any success, because I won't know until spring if I got any takes.

What about pears? Do they bud easily? Should I try some budding on the pear tree or wait til spring and graft again? Which method has a better likelihood of success with pears?

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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

It's hard to imagine that budding would be more successful than grafting, simply because grafting pears is so easy. I haven't done a lot, but I think I'm 6 for 6 using whip and tongue grafts. That includes a couple done with scion that had been laying on the ground at my Mom's house for a couple weeks in the late winter before I wrapped it up. No harm in attempting budding though. You can do a couple buds now, then have a look in the spring. if they don't swell, then graft.


    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 3:57PM
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Do people bud pears? Is it done?

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 5:02PM
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I do both, but my mainstay is whip and tongue or the occasional cleft. I've done bark grafts with pear but prefer the others by far. It can be handy to do a chip or a bud backup if you like.

Here's another way to look at it though. Say you discover some nice budwood in July and you've got some good, trainable watersprouts or smaller branches on your frankenpear- you can go ahead and bud them right away, and have the leg up on the next year's grafting; if they fail, you do a w&t in the spring. If they take you can move on to the next project.

Good luck with your pear.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 8:04PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Pears and apples give me nearly 100% success using T budding. If the bark is slipping they should work. Keep at it using both budding and grafting depending on the scion wood and when you can get it.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 9:15PM
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OK, so which method is likely to produce earlier fruit?

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 10:06PM
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Either way it may easily take 3 years or more. But pear grafts tend to be vigorous in my limited experience. My pear doesn't seem to care where I place the graft, either: high or low or in the middle, they all do well.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 11:39AM
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My Sekel needs thinning, so I'll use it for scion wood, either way.
So far, I've managed to get one graft each of Comice, Doyenne Gris and Superfin to take on the Keiffer.

I really want to get some Sekel on a better-situated root, because I can't trust the location I put it in. The Keiffer is remarkably vigorous, despite being flooded every year.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 3:08PM
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Sekel is very vigorous and productive on my frankenpear. Can you grow Flemish Beauty where you are? It seems to do well here, but I don't get many yet. Winter Nellis looks like it might start to happen soon, plus White Doyenne and Dana's Hovey.

Bosc, Frost and Pezzuti in a year or two, I hope. Underlying tree is Gold Spice, very good (but small) in its own right.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2013 at 5:08PM
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itilton - Hope I can piggy back on this thread quickly.

I know the common perception is that you should cleft/whip and tounge graft in early spring just before the buds pop. I know that budding should be done just after into middle of summer.

I am wondering if you can cleft/t and w, or bud late in the season in a cold climate?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 8:18AM
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A good question. All I know is that the material to be grafted/budded should be dormant.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 10:06AM
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alexander3_gw(6 Pennsylvania)

I successfully grafted onto my pear this spring after the leaves had emerged. Scion was still dormant of course.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 10:11AM
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skyjs(z8 OR, USA)

budding and grafting are complementary. if it doesnt take grafting in the spring, bud in the summer. both work great. double the tools in your kit.
john s
pdx, or

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 1:47PM
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I've always understood that some fruits take better to budding - like stone fruits - and others to grafting, like pome fruits. Wondering how true that really is.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 4:40PM
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Plums spring-graft readily enough most of the time, but I have problems with all other stone fruit regardless of how I approach it. So I will demur on that discussion.

But pomes seem to be OK with spring grafting or chipping or buds- it's all about the "when", I think.

I assume that cleft, whip, whip and tongue, or bark (rind) grafting all need to be done in the spring because the goal is to have them heal over and start growing during the current year. I don't know whether you can do those things later in the season, but I think you can if you have dormant scions to work with. As I understand it you expect the "spring" graft to put on growth in the current year, and so you want it to go on as early as is reasonable, but you don't expect the bud graft to grow until the following year- plus, you have to wait until late summer for budding material to be ready. If you got it to grow the same summer you grafted it you're at risk of having weak, poorly attached, and unhardened growth.

Plus it's hard to keep scion wood dormant long into the spring, so it's unlikely that you'd have it when you wanted it. (Would freezing the scions solve that problem? I don't know. It might.)

Chips can be done whenever you have appropriate stuff to work with. You don't need to have slipping bark. If you chip in the spring you're aiming for good growth over the summer; chip in the summer and you're hoping the bud remains dormant until the following spring. But if it does sprout it might do just fine.

That's at least as much as I know about the subject, maybe a little more. Others may have more complete information.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 9:53PM
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OK, then, another question - how late in the year can you successfully do budding? Like it's getting kind of late now.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2013 at 10:59PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)


I suppose it depends on the fruit. I don't recall that I've late summer budded apple and pear, but for early spring grafting they are pretty tolerant to a wide range of temperatures.

For peach, I like to bud around the 1st of Sept. The grafts have enough time to callus in before winter, but the temps are not too hot so as to cook the grafts.

Since you are a zone colder, it's probably too late to bud peaches, but I bet you could still bud pome fruit.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 1:02PM
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Well, it looks like my apricot-to-plum buds may have took.

Which leads to another question - when budding, say, pear to pear, how do you mark the buds so you can tell which are the new variety?

It's hard enough to identify 2 year old growing pear grafts, let alone little bitty buds.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 5:30PM
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Thanks you guys have helped for sure...

You could try some paint to mark the grafts

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 8:13PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

"You could try some paint to mark the grafts"

That's exactly what I do. Before winter, I unwrap all my grafts (if the sunlight hasn't already degraded the rubber tape and parafilm) and carefully paint right around the bud (but not the little bud itself) with a small paint brush and some light colored paint.

It really isn't all that necessary, but I like to check my results before winter anyway, and it doesn't take long to paint them while I'm checking. It's also helpful in the spring when I rub off other rootstock growth, I don't accidentally rub off the sleepy eye growth by mistake. Because it's marked with paint, its highly visible.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 10:37PM
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