Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
After 8 years grafting for the Home Orchard Society at our yearly Scion (Cutting) Exchange, I've collected various printouts describing aftercare for these newly 'bench-grafted' (grafted while dormant above ground) trees. Scrambling around the house Saturday morning, before heading across the valley to Canby, I couldn't find the half-page handouts I've most recently used... Back home, I found them; but with careful inspection, decided there was some tweaking to do before reprinting another batch.
My revisions are pasted below, and have grown to a full page; including both aftercare, graft death, and training. As well as a compilation of the advice I've depended on from others, it also includes my own. The only standout opinion (to me) is my choice of an open 'vase-shaped' tree, as opposed to a 'central leader.' I've dealt with both, and the open, upward limbs are a proven success to me. A more subtle departure is my suggestion to leave "3 or 4 leaves" before tip-pinching the 'suckers' from the rootstock. It was extremely difficult to explain this concept while grafting at the exchange ... and come away with all my fingers! So, the following is my best shot, and filling out one page (in 16 font) - I plan to make it my 'newest' aftercare handout.
...I've also suggested questions be posted 'here,' - so if anyone 'out there' had a tree done up by the 3 HOS Grafters at last Saturday's event, let us know how they're doing (in a month or two), and post any question you have. --- But keep in mind, there's likely no one way, just 'our way!'
Aftercare of your newly grafted fruit tree:
Label your tree & make a backup record. Before planting keep it cool, shaded, and the roots always moist. Within a month after grafting, expect new growth from both rootstock and scion. The rootstock will send out suckers during the first year. Tip-pinch them back to 3 or 4 leaves, to redirect the energy from the treeâ€™s roots into the scion. On the other hand, leave new scion growth untouched, until the longest stem is 6 to 8 inches, normally toward the end of May. At this point select the best stem to form the main trunk of the new tree. Pinch out the growing tips of the other scion stems, leaving 5 or 6 leaves on each to aid the formation of a strong union; when dormant, cut them to the base of the tree. Water your grafted tree weekly through August. After August, water sparingly so it can harden off for winter.
What if my graft dies?
If there is no growth coming from the scion, there will usually be sprouts coming from the rootstock. Allow these sprouts to grow as described above. Keep the rootstock well-watered and fertilized. You want one shoot to grow as large as possible, so you may bud onto it in August. HOS has a budding workshop at the Arboretum in August; itâ€™s a great time to get help, and scion wood for your bud. Or - you my graft onto that shoot the following dormant season.
Training your young tree:
I prefer an open â€˜vase-shapedâ€™ tree, as opposed to a â€˜central leader.â€™ To create an open vase (when dormant), prune your first year scion growth above the bud where youâ€™d like your highest limb. The 4 or 5 buds below should put on equal growth the following season, forming your branches. â€“ If that single upright shoot had not reached your desired branch height, do not prune it, let it begin growing upward. You may treat it as you did the original graft, by tip-pinching any shoots below the terminal (tip) bud and make your branching cut the following winter. Soil fertility, rootstock, and varietal vigor will determine whether it takes one or two growing seasons to reach your desired branching height.
Post your questions on the Home Orchard Societyâ€™s Online Forum