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 Cherry tree grafting question 
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:49 pm
Posts: 220
Location: Rochester, WA
Post Cherry tree grafting question
Ok, I am going to show my ignorance again and throw out some ideas for this problem I have. I had a Rainier cherry tree that I planted 8 years ago. A few years ago, I noticed a couple 'suckers' from the roots coming up. I dug these up and replanted them elsewhere. I cut down the original tree this winter. The 'suckers' are growing like everything and are about 10 feet tall. I looked up my original paperwork and it didn't say anything about a graft. I thought possibly it was a standard ungrafted tree. I called the company and found out the tree was grafted onto 'prunus avium' also called Mazzard rootstock (think thats it). I looked that up and found its a nice tree, and will have cherries but not the best kind. These trees are well branched. I have thought about 3 ways to top work the tree but I don't have a clue what would work best.

1. Just cut the tree down to about 6 inches and cleft graft on some desired scion. (I suspect this would kill the tree because of loss of 'food' from the missing leaves)

2. Leave the first group of lower branches, and top graft the tree above them. The tree is about 1 inch diameter here so probably a cleft graft again. Then if the top takes, slowly graft onto the lower branches the desired type cherry. (This should work but I am not sure)

3. Let the top grow, and graft desired scion wood onto the lower branches. If the grafts take, the tree would be a combination of the Mazzard and the desired variety. The top which grows tall would be for the birds, and the lower desired variety could be netted. This would not kill the tree I don't think.

So what would you do? Also, does budding or cleft/whip grafting work better for cherries? Sorry to be so long winded, but 2 inches of snow is making it hard to get out and work, so I am in planning mode.

I suppose I could dig them up and plant totally new trees but it seems a shame to throw away all the progress they have made. Thanks for taking the time to read all this.

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Zone 6 or 7 - Greg in Rochester, WA.


Sat Mar 11, 2006 10:26 am
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1154
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
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Greg, don't do #1! ...#2 - 'leaving' the branches, and grafting the 'top' would put your desired variety pretty high, likely out of easy reach, and would also be vulnerable to total loss if that 'new top' ever broke out. I'd go with # 3 If the 'top' - above the branches - is one inch in diameter, are the 'branches below it' less? If they are the diameter of your scion wood, they'd be perfect candidates for 'whip & tongue' grafts. And remember - they don't have to match perfectly, just on one side!

I'd graft every one of those 'branches,' with a carefully selected variety of scions - cherry pollination is very particular... I'd cut the tip top out of the central leader (the stock above those branches still going up), and monitor the growth of the scions, not letting them get shaded too much by any top growth. As they (hopefully) grow, eventually remove that 'top' just above them, letting them develop into the main and desired limbs.

I'm told 'Budding' always works best... But it's most often used on one to two year old wood, and of course, done sometime in August. Which - if your dormant work doesn't take, you could always play around with it then. Cherries, all 'Stone Fruits' for that matter are poorer candidates for dormant grafting. I've had dismal results with Cherries; one thing that had been suggested to me was to graft them early ... as they seem to 'over-sap' the graft as they bloom very early. And, being my Cherries are now "Figs," I lost the battle of top-working. But mine were substantially older than your rootstock - so go for it! ... The sooner the better! :lol: !

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Sat Mar 11, 2006 11:34 am
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:49 pm
Posts: 220
Location: Rochester, WA
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The lower limbs are all about 3/8 diameter so whip grafting is possible. I don't have any cherry scion wood though. As it was a Rainier cherry, I think that is what I shall look for. I do have 2 trees so I can experiment on one and try a traditional approach on the other. I am tempted to just let them grow and be for the birds and keep all my bush cherries for my use.

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Zone 6 or 7 - Greg in Rochester, WA.


Sat Mar 11, 2006 12:55 pm
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