We Must Preserve this Tree. Graft?

Suzi AKA DesertDanceJuly 30, 2014

This tree is a Bearss Lime. OLD tree. One trunk has splitting bark, but it's still bearing fruit. The other looks to be a sucker, but the fruit is identical. We have tried to rescue this tree since we purchased this property last year. This year several leafing branches just died. We suspect gophers. The tree is pretty lopsided at this time, and we are going to brace it this week.

Anyway, hubby is diabetic and loves margaritas made from the real juice of this tree with splenda and no sugar. He wants to save the tree.

Our soil is decomposed granite, and all trees are on a drip system. The lime also gets extra flooding weekly.

Here is the tree from a distance

Here are the split trunks showing limes

Here is what we suspect to be a tree grown from a seed. The lemons are small and seedy. Another lemon on the property has large lemons. We are wondering if we can try grafting Bearrs branches onto this tree.

The lemon

The lemons are pretty worthless. I use them, but they are so small it's hardly worth it.

IF we can graft, what is the best time of year to do that, and can you point me to instructions?

Thanks!

Suzi

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Might be easier and faster to start over with a fresh young tree. In SoCal, new stock often arrives quite early in the year.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 1:40AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

What Jean said. You can buy a tree year 'round here. I recommend planting after our intense heat is done for the year. Find the cultivar you want, and replace the tree. Chop up the old tree for firewood (citrus makes for nice firewood).

Patty S.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 8:59AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i agree with planting a new tree ...

but i dont understand.. why you have to kill this one ...

if it is dying.. its dying in tree years... and it could be decades before it fails ... or it could be this winter.. either way.. you plant the replacement now ...

it does NOT have to be planted in the hole you dig this one out of ...

plan ahead for failure of the old one ...

ken

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 9:03AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

Well, a new tree isn't an option unless we put it in the same hole. We have covered this property with many trees, including several varieties of citrus. It's harsh land, with many boulders, so not a lot of prime spots for more trees.

The old tree doesn't look like it's dying yet, but from what you all say, grafting onto the useless lemon is NOT an option?

We have considered having the useless lemon removed (not cheap for an older tree) and putting a new Bearss in it's spot but that will take years to produce so why bother?

We planted several new citrus and each one has zero to 4 fruits on it.

Grafting can't be done I guess........ too bad.

Suzi

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 9:34AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

Just to be clear, we do not wish to KILL the old Bearss! We wish to take some branches of it, especially on the lopsided side and graft to the useless lemon. Then, we could carry on the life of the old one on an established root stock type lemon tree.

Too bad it can't be done.

Suzi

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 9:40AM
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nandina(8b)

desertdance, hop on line and do some careful research on the subject "bridge grafting" It is not difficult. It appears that the 'sucker' tree is healthy and a candidate to bridge graft a scion crossways from sucker to old trunk above the splitting bark area.

And/or it may be possible to bridge graft on the old trunk from below the splitting bark upward to fresh bark. This is a common grafting method used to save damaged fruit trees. Study should help you to understand this useful technique.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 10:10AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Desertdance, as long as any rootstock is doing well, no signs of gummosis, you can graft to it. If you've got a lime or lemon, it's probably on sour lemon roostock, so stick with sour cultivars. Up to you. You'll need to learn how to topwork a citrus tree. It's a little more tricky than topworking stone or pome trees. It really depends on how much work you want to do, and how long you want to wait for fruit.

Ken, besides limited space, water is precious here in S. California. In Maryland, think my water bill was maybe $45 every other month. In Indiana, I had a well, so water was just the cost of electricity to pump out. Here in S. California, my water bill is about $800 every other month. Every tree is considered for its value on my property.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 2:40PM
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johnmerr(11)

Of course you can graft Bearss lime onto your "useless" lemon. I would ask your local nurseryman to recommend a professional to make multiple top grafts. You can try it yourself; but it is an artform that few possess. I can do my own grafts; but I'm lucky if I get 30%; whereas my professional gets essentially 100%. The advantage of taking fruiting budwood from your Bearss and grafting it to your fruiting rootstock is you should get fruit in the next year.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 3:19PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

Thank you all for your responses. It CAN be done. Now my big job is to google the terms you have stated above, and get started trying.

I'm just not sure what time of year is best, but probably not in the heat of summer. Gives me time to learn and maybe find a pro.

Thanks!

Suzi

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 3:42PM
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BarbJP CA 15-16/9B

The only thing I would disagree with is that a local Retail nursery person would know anyone who grafts professionally. I highly doubt it, but doesn't hurt to ask.

Better place to ask is your local citrus wholesale grower. Some do the grafting themselves and they may be able to give you contact info for a professional grafter. Perhaps some of their employees do side jobs.

On the other hand, they many not want to put you in touch with a grafter, as they may think of it as competition to selling one of their trees.

Idk, but it's worth a couple calls or emails. You can maybe get their contact info from your local nursery, or Google.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 4:48PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

For many of us, the term 'nurseryman' means something entirely different than a retail nursery person. Suzi, I strongly suggest that you find a real professional or someone with a great deal of experience in the grafting of citrus....a real nurseryperson.

Give your local extension office a call to see if they have any leads for you. I wouldn't pin your hopes on being able to accomplish this without some hands on assistance from a grower, propagator, and expert.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 5:18PM
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serge94501

Make sure the Bearss is not diseased before grafting its scion onto a healthy tree.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 7:23PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

Well, I live in the land of the red neck commercial Citrus growers. These are ranchers with BIG dogs, and probably guns. They don't have a welcome sign out. I can drive over there and see what I can find out. It's miles of citrus here.. Not acres. MILES!

I'll wear my boots and cowgirl hat, and see what I can find out at the local BBQ lounge. Name of the place is Sweet Baby Janes. They have this huge smoker out back, and pretty sure all the ranchers go there.

To my knowledge there is no local wholesale citrus grower, and the only non-chain nursery in town won't have a clue. I know the dude.

Suzi

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 7:56PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

serge94501, I invited the Dept of Ag over here last year because I had signs of the dreaded Asian Citrus Psyllid. They tested all the trees, and gave me the all clear with a lecture to use Imacloprid on a regular basis, which we do.

The only disease my trees have is the occasional lucky gopher I didn't trap or poison, and the dreaded various scale insects or mealy bugs. We are now armed with neem and Spinosad. We also have the leafminers attacking the very newest growth.

Interestingly, the closest commercial citrus growers to us... a few properties away have the quarantine on them.

Suzi

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 8:21PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

You go get 'em, girl!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 8:46PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

I do have a fancy grafting tool. When is the best time to graft. I already know nobody here will tell me, but if you did, I'd listen.

Suzi

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 9:39PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Hah, Suzi :-) Best time to graft is when mid- spring for us when temps warm up, and the cambium is slipping well, but you might be able to get some successful grafts if you try in later September, if temps are behaving for you out there. If it still is really hot (over 90), wait a few weeks and give it a try. And Serge is referring to Wood Pocket disease, which can afflict limes. So, look that up on the UC Davis site to make sure your lime is healthy before spending a lot of time topworking a sick tree.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 10:25PM
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johnmerr(11)

In the end... if you can find a professional, they will know when and how to do the grafting.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 11:17PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Info from Univ CA -- see link

Here is a link that might be useful: budding & grafting citrus & avocado

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 3:07AM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

And you can talk to the folks at your county's Extension Service office. find yours with the map at the link below --

Here is a link that might be useful: Locate your county's Extension Service office

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 3:11AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

Thanks for the links, Jean001a!. I will check them both out. I did get a fancy grafting tool last year and am anxious to try it.

I don't remember the brand, but you find two same diameter branches, make the cut and, like a puzzle, they fit together.

I will try that of course along with other methods, but need to know best time of year. There are lots of places for all kinds of grafts on that worthless lemon, and we have lots of trees with many branches for practice. The lime is the main one though.

Again, thanks for the links.

Suzi

Here is a link that might be useful: This might be the tool I have

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 10:21AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

See my previous post, Suzi, for best time to graft.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 10:39AM
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enocchen

Don't want to disappoint you on that fancy tool, Suzi, I also bought that tool thru some commercial. My success rate is 1 out of 10. But I would encourge you still use grafting to propagate your citrus tree to take advantage of the well established rootstock tree (the sour lemon tree). After the research, I think the way to graft a tree DOES make a big difference. Here is the one I would strongly recommend to you - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1b3EmyqkPE0 (and you don't need fancy tool either in his way)

Here is a link that might be useful: Grafting Citrus Demonstration

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 7:58PM
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fruitmentor

If you are going to graft citrus, bark grafting is the way to go. Here is a video that shows you exactly how to use bark grafting to top work a citrus tree.

Here is a link that might be useful: Grafting Citrus

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 2:31AM
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fruitmentor

The Bearss lime that you have is most certainly the one that suffers from wood pocket disease. There is a new version of Bearss lime available that does not have wood pocket disease -- VI 708. If you are going to graft citrus, you should be ordering budwood from the CCPP anyway. It is easy and inexpensive to order budwood from the CCPP. I have prepared a video that shows exactly how to set up an account and place your order.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ordering Citrus Budwood for Grafting

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 2:38AM
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fruitmentor

In case you are wondering why I have gone to the trouble of making these grafting videos, it because I would like to see the other citrus states avoid the devastation that Florida has seen. In Florida residential citrus trees now have a very short life expectancy due to citrus greening. You can read the article below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Citrus Grafting Tutorials to stop citrus greening

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 2:43AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Thanks, Dan, for the responsible video about proper citrus grafting using ONLY clean budwood from the CCPP. It is tempting, I know, to go and snip budwood from a neighbor's tree, or use some "exotic" budwood that someone has, but this is exactly how Citrus Greening was discovered in Los Angeles county, California about a year ago - someone in the Chinese-American community who was an experienced citrus grafter decided to bring some unclean (and infected) pummelo budwood in from China illegally, and as a favor, grafted that budwood onto a neighbor's tree. Fortunately, that branch did not look healthy, the ag agents were called for a diagnosis, and sure enough, it was infected with HLB. Horrifying. And, there were ACP's in that area. So, we in hobby & commercial citrus circles are still collectively holding our breath on this incident. Great job, Dan. Grafting is fun, but we need to be very responsible in how we acquire budwood. The CCPP has made it much, much easier to request budwood, now, so for those of us who love citrus, and enjoy grafting, this has been a wonderful and very safe opportunity.

Lastly, Suzi, I am concerned that your old Lime tree is affected with Wood Pocket. If so, it would not be a candidate for grafting, as its days are numbered. If you are not sure, you can always send photos of the trunk area, and overall tree to your local ag agent, and let them diagnose your old lime tree. If so, better to have it removed, and plant whatever cultivar you would like in its place.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 12:49PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

Thank you very much for all the info and the video. I'll order some budwood from the CCPP.

Suzi

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 3:28PM
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Kippy(SoCal zone 10. Sunset Zone 24)

If it helps.

I have taken out several citrus trees, they are not all that awful to remove yourself with a few simple tools (like a sawsall)

My new Bearss only put a few fruit out since we bought it, I would consider buying a replacement with "good wood" and growing in the biggest pot you can find and move. You will have a jump on a more mature tree if you do decide to replace and have your scion wood.

Also, ask at the local nursery's about grafting. You might be surprised that they know some one. My local nursery has had a very old gentleman who did grafting for the industry for decades come and do a talk on grafting every January. Yours might know someone. I am not talking the HD staff, but the long time employees/operators of non chain nurseries.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 3:44PM
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fruitmentor

Hi Suzi,

Good luck with your grafting! Your lemon seems like a great opportunity to give it a try and since the fruit are no good, you have nothing to lose. Since the diameter of your tree will be bigger than the nursery tree in the video, you can try more than one scion -- that way you have a better chance of success. You only need one to live.

Best regards,
Dan Willey

    Bookmark   August 30, 2014 at 11:01PM
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