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 Grafts need a jump start 
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Joined: Wed May 16, 2007 4:54 pm
Posts: 13
Post Grafts need a jump start
Here in the Midwest, I did several whip and tongue grafts of apple, plum, Quince and pear. My success rate has never been terrific, but this year none of the some 12 grafts I made has taken so far ( over three weeks now). Most of the rootstocks have put out leaves in pots, while a few others were done directly onto my Lubsk Queen apple tree. The apples were done on Bud 9 from Raintree Nursery. The Quince was done on Quince C. Plum was on Krymsk and Pear was on Quince. The scion came from various members of my local fruit growing club, Midfex. At the suggestion of one of our more experienced members, I enclosed the grafts in plastic bags together with a piece of damp toweling. So far, nothing has happened. I have the grafts in pots on my patio in full sun. I'm not sure if the problem stems from weather conditions or poor scion wood. Some of my scion came from the Cornell geneome project, and this is the second year I have had no success with their scion. The scion appears to be alive, as I can see good cambium growth on them. Others in my area say their grafts have already taken, so I'm not sure that they have not had enough time to take. At this point, can I do anything to improve the
grafting process, or should I just sit tight and give it more time?

Sherwin D.


Sun May 27, 2007 12:16 am
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1154
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
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Three weeks isn't that long for graft action. Several apple and (European) plum grafts I made in late March didn't show activity for well over a month. Both your scions and rootstock are coming out of dormancy (or cold storage) so the actual knitting of cells will likely take longer. As for the existing tree, again – it may be too soon for growth?

Around here (the Willamette Valley in Oregon) we'll do our 'dormant bench-grafting' in late Feb. or March. That's grafting both dormant scion and rootstock. I suspect there's no problem in grafting a whip & tongue to a 'growing' tree? Though I've heard the 'sap' can emerge so fast from some trees it will overwhelm the scions; actually ooze from the union. But a rootstock (...thinking out loud here) could hardly put out that volume of 'sap.'

I've done a lot of (successful) grafts… both bench and top-work; I've never covered them with plastic. My fear is the heat buildup within that little greenhouse environment could easily cook emergent growth, or inhibit the cell connections necessary to bind the two. Perhaps, if it were still February... or March that extra heat might be beneficial, but this far into the season I suspect it would do them more harm than good... I'd remove those fast, if it's not too late.

With scion wood from a genome project I'd suspect it was properly prepared and stored..? Was it shriveled or shriveling? If it was, it got dried out and that's bad news. If the rootstock's leafing out, it was fine (I trust Raintree). You say other's grafts are growing... when did they do them?

I'm wondering why you've had such poor success with grafting? From all I've witnessed much has to do with the type of knife - believe it or not! A sharp and rigid grafting knife can make all the difference. I've watched beginners use knives that will flex, or curve when making the slanting cuts. This causes a concaved, or less than flush surface. If they spot it, they'll begin to carve away trying to flatten it. All this carving shreds the scion or rootstock edge and the cambial cells never meet. Wrapping's also critical; you mustn’t let it dry out!

Recommendations: Get those plastic bags off - Summers here 8) Be patient; your grafts need time to mesh. Leave them alone; picking, scraping or prodding will only decrease their chance of survival. And - my toughest call - if you've got growth from your rootstock... don't remove it yet. If your scions don't grow, you can allow the rootstock to grow instead; thus you'll have something to graft onto next March ~ if necessary. If there’s no bud-swelling or emergent growth in the next 3 weeks, I'd train those rootstocks into single trunked ‘trees’ – overwinter them and try again next Spring :?

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Sun May 27, 2007 10:18 am
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Joined: Wed May 16, 2007 4:54 pm
Posts: 13
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We are still not into consistent summer weather here in the Midwest, so we
are lagging you west coast people. I think I can take the bags off without
causing any more problems. I think the original suggestor was thinking about keeping a moist environment around the graft. Also, what are your
thoughts about keeping the benchgrafts in full sun vs. shade? Does it matter?

My concern is about this year's results. I have been grafting for over 15 years with variable degrees of success. This year is unusual in that none of the grafts have shown any response.

The scion from the genome project was not shriveled, but very dark and
damp looking. I think that getting fresh scion gives one the best chances
of success. While dormancy buds are important, they may deteriorate by
keeping them in storage too long.

I use a sharp knife, wrap it tight with rubber bands, and seal it with
Parafilm tape. I'm pretty good at making clean cuts and lining up the
opposing cambium layers.

I may have to do some bud grafting this summer. I think this works better
for stone fruits, maybe not so well with apples. I'm hearing people say they are getting good results with T-buds. My bud grafting has been even
worse than my whip and tongue results using standard bud grafts, but maybe the T-buds work better.

I'm not sure what the difficulty is here, but I know other people in my club
doing grafts this year are also having problems. Although our scion came
from various people, that should eliminate bad wood. However, these same people claim they had better luck doing grafts earlier in the year
from scion off their own trees. All our wood was definitely dormant at our
grafting session, but perhaps we are doing our grafting too late in the season, or keeping the scion in storage too long.


Mon May 28, 2007 12:03 am
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1154
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
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"We are still not into consistent summer weather here in the Midwest, so we are lagging you west coast people. I think I can take the bags off without causing any more problems. I think the original suggestor was thinking about keeping a moist environment around the graft. Also, what are your thoughts about keeping the benchgrafts in full sun vs. shade? Does it matter?"

We're likely to hit 90 this week! I've heard that about the "moist environment" -- maybe we simply live in one? -- but what I've found is that it's far more important to keep the moisture inside the graft union than 'outside.' That's why I find wrapping & sealing so critical. I think its fine, if not best to put the newly grafted trees into as much sunlight as they'll eventually get in their permanent locations. If grafted early enough in the season they'll progress right along with the big boys. I've had a small graft sitting in a (small) pot against a south facing wall with reflective 'driveway heat' all Spring. I've made sure it's watered as needed (it also gets any spoiled milk) and it's thriving.

"The scion from the genome project was not shriveled, but very dark and damp looking. I think that getting fresh scion gives one the best chances of success. While dormancy buds are important, they may deteriorate by keeping them in storage too long."

One problem I've noticed when grafting at our annual "Scion Exchange" are scions brought in by the general public where they've been kept too wet. Sometimes they're beginning to mold and most have that 'dark' look you described. I've had to wonder if the mold spores had affected the buds..? And if I don't recommend they go out to our tables and find some better wood (hopefully of the same variety) I'll remind them that scions should be stored 'damp,' not wet. As far as storing scions... I've still got some Grav's waiting to be sent to the UK sitting in my fridge... He hasn't asked, and I haven't got around to tossing them, but I've been told they remain viable a very long time if stored properly. I haven't peeked at them lately, but just a day ago wondered if it would be worth the effort to graft them somewhere - just to see what happens? The reason I didn't was that I feared our summer heat might do-in the new growth, and that new growth might come too late to 'harden off' before winter; and, I've got too many Gravensteins as is!

"I have been grafting for over 15 years with variable degrees of success." And: "I use a sharp knife, wrap it tight with rubber bands, and seal it with Parafilm tape. I'm pretty good at making clean cuts and lining up the opposing cambium layers."

Sounds like you know what you're doing... There must be other factors at work. I generally collect and store my own scion wood. Though most in our society do an excellent job of the same, you never really know how long it laid in a car trunk inside a semi-heated garage before being properly stored..? What's strange is how your various varieties have all given you trouble this year? Did you have those plastic begs on each graft? Maybe you had a couple very sunny, if warmer than usual days, where it created enough heat inside those bags to cook / kill the scions..?

I've never Budded; I've never found a reason. My feeling of 'getting it on in the Spring, then nurturing it through the growing season' has conflicted with a feeling of 'putting it on in late summer and hoping it survives the winter.' But when the nursery's (and we've a lot of them around here) do nothing but Bud... I'm assured it works! I had considered suggesting you allow the rootstock shoots to develop, then Bud to them, but it seems they should have had more new growth by now and may be a bit immature to bud latter this Summer?

"I'm not sure what the difficulty is here, but I know other people in my club doing grafts this year are also having problems. Although our scion came from various people, that should eliminate bad wood. However, these same people claim they had better luck doing grafts earlier in the year from scion off their own trees. All our wood was definitely dormant at our grafting session, but perhaps we are doing our grafting too late in the season, or keeping the scion in storage too long."

Had everyone used that 'baggie over the scion' method? And there's some conformation to my 'earlier is better' suggestion, as the earlier grafts took. I'd just get on it sooner next year ...now let's get down to the important question: how far are you from my Kin in Maeystown :lol: Ever heard of it? My Mother's from there and I've been back there once. It was late summer and unbelievably hot and humid! I think it hit 100 degrees by 9:00 in the morning one day -- is that even possible? Their watermelons were the best I've ever eaten! They'd eat them by the 3's while watching their "Maeystown Stump-jumpers" play ball! Take care~

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Mon May 28, 2007 10:53 am
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Joined: Wed May 16, 2007 4:54 pm
Posts: 13
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The idea to put on the ziplock bags with moist toweling was an afterthought.
For two and a half weeks, they were not covered besides the normal tape
around the graft union.

The moist bag technique is probably only practiced by a few of our grafters.
Someone must have picked up the idea from a Nafex meeting, or some such
place. This recommendor claims to have very good success, even this season, but he is grafting onto M27 which may have different characteristics
for allowing grafts to take.

Maeystown is about as far away in Illinois as you can get from the Chicago
area where I live. It is South of St. Louis. Thanks for all your comments.

Sherwin D.


Mon May 28, 2007 11:27 pm
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Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2004 10:23 pm
Posts: 95
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Sherwin:
Suggestions:
1. The tape should have been sealed with graftng seal (a type of expanding latex paint). to prevent drying. I thing the plastic bag suggestion was in lew of paint.
2. Heat is required for cambium growth, but too much is a killer.
3. Scion shuld be dormant, rootstocks can be grwoingfor successful grafting.
4. Some pear varieties (most) are not compatible with Quince.
5. Scion growth will depend on where it was located on the specimen tree. Top is best, water sprouts not good.

Keep trying -

Ted


Wed May 30, 2007 12:09 am
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Sherwin:
Question: When does Lubusk Queen bloom? Do you know th approx. bloom dates?

Ted


Wed May 30, 2007 12:18 am
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Joined: Wed May 16, 2007 4:54 pm
Posts: 13
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Ted,

Most of my apple trees, including the Lubsk tree bloomed around the same
time this year, about three to four weeks ago. The Lubsk was a few days
after my other apples (Spigold, Hudson Golden Gem, Freyburg, Ashmead
Kernel, Golden Russet, and Pitmasten Pineapple), but in time for cross
pollination.

Now I am hearing that one of our founding members (now deceased) used
the plastic bags, but covered them with paper bags to keep the hot sun off.
I'm trying that approach now.

As far as sealing the graft, I have heard of people getting results with duct
tape and other crude methods. I think the Parafilm is much more high tech than those methods. I used to use plumbers teflon tape, but that did
not breathe. I don't know about this grafting seal, and wonder how much
trouble it is to remove, once the graft takes.

Still no action from my grafts. I believe my pear scion (Moretinni) is compatible with Quince.

Sherwin


Thu May 31, 2007 12:12 am
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1154
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
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We still have members using electricians tape... I'll occasionally use it to bind a cleft graft, but never a whip & tongue. Some use masking tape... Too flimsy, doesn’t stretch and isn’t waterproof. Most are now using Budding Strips, or Grafting Bands http://www.raintreenursery.com/catalog/ ... uctID=T090

Other than a dab of Doc Farwell’s Tree Grafting Seal http://www.obcnw.com/b2b/shop.php?prod_ ... od_id=2102
---on the scion tip, the bands are all you need. (I just received a fresh batch of Grafting Bands from OBC; and look for Doc Farwell in as small a container as possible - if only needed for grafting) When you wrap the graft with a Band, start from the bottom, overlapping it slightly as you go up. You end up with a moisture-tight water-shedding expandable seal - and - they breakdown in sunlight so there's no need to cut, loosen or remove them!

"Parafilm:" -- "Parafilm® Grafting Tape is an economical, fast and easy-to-use product that makes plant grafting and budding efforts a breeze for nursery workers, landscapers and gardeners. Apply the tape over the usual grafting rubber or tape normally used to hold the union secure until the graft takes hold. And, it may be enough alone to hold the scion of some soft-stemmed species in place." -- And -- "Very stretchy 1/2" parafilm tape holds graft union firmly together. Unlike PVC, parafilm, a low-molecular-weight polyethylene product, is relatively benign in the environment. It also does not need to be cut off the tree because it decomposes and falls off on its own in one or two months."

I've never seen it... Is the selling point that it's "relatively benign?" ...There should be no need to apply anything over "the usual grafting rubber," not even Farwell's Grafting Seal. Doing ‘both’ will restrict expansion and inhibit the grafting rubber from properly breaking down in sunlight.

I've also been giving some thought to that 'extra heat' to heal a graft... I've never used any heat trapping protection, nor had trouble (or reports of trouble) with the hundreds of grafts I've done. These include grafts that were directly ‘taken home’ to Oregon’s much hotter / colder east side. When dormant grafting fruit trees, my feeling is you've joined two dormant pieces of compatible material, if it's too cold for cell activity and callusing (just as in nature) they wait until it warms. I've seen no indication that dormant fruit tree scions cannot handle the same weather as their host tree – they’re both under refrigeration.

Naturally, I'm attracted to anything about Grafting, and there remain plenty of myths and folklore surrounding it. Perhaps the mysterious aspect originally enticed me, but as I’m now counted on to make it work for others, I’ve concentrated on the practicalities. It’s still fun to be looked upon as a Wizard… though I hope we all know better 8)

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Fri Jun 01, 2007 9:02 am
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Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 1:21 pm
Posts: 417
Location: SW Washington
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Viron,

I experimented with several sealing methods doing bark, and whip and tongue grafting on my apple tree this spring.

I found that, contrary to what I would have expected, putting Doc Farwell's on top of a grafting rubber or rubber band caused the rubber to degrade much faster than those without. Parafilm over the rubber did preserve it.

I just did some more plum grafting this weekend, much later than planned due to a knee injury. If I had good mating on a whip and tongue I found that parafilm alone was very convenient. You can seal it to the tip of the scion and cover everything including the buds to keep them from drying out before the union callouses. It overlaps starting at the bottom to form a waterproof seal just as you describe with the budding strips. Its just not as strong. With a good whip and tongue not much added strength is needed. With a marginal match I either use several layers of parafilm at the union (and one layer up the scion and the tip), or a grafting rubber covered with one layer of parafilm.

I wrap the rubber tight to improve the seal, but don't necessarily bother to make sure it is overlapping since I cover it with the parafilm anyway.

I might be warmer to the the idea of using just the budding strip, but unfortunately I think I ordered ones that are just a bit short for my tastes. I didn't know which to choose. I think mine are 6" and 8" was an option. I'm not yet adept at tying them off so I could use some more length.

I have Doc Farwell's but I haven't found the right implement for spreading it yet. I've used a chopstick which is a little slow, and a silicone basting brush which is much too big and crude. What do you use? I also just find that using the parafilm is less mess and fuss and more portable than the Doc Farwell's. Now if I ever attempt another cleft graft, or I'm doing bark grafts on larger diameter limbs, then the Doc Farwell's is the way to go to seel the exposed end.

I don't think I grafted to anything larger than 3/4" last weekend.


Tue Jun 05, 2007 10:09 am
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Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1154
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
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"putting Doc Farwell's on top of a grafting rubber or rubber band caused the rubber to degrade much faster than those without." Good -- thanks for that info … I'll try to remember it. I've noticed my grafting comrades at the Scion Exchange painting up their band-wrapped whip & tongue's with plenty of yellow Doc... now if it breaks down even faster... that's not a good thing - but at least it breaks down – and not having to slit it with a blade to release the tension, or worse - unwrap it.

I'll have to find some of that Parafilm to play with... but it doesn’t seem necessary to cover the buds, that would worry me; nature already dose such a nice job of that (sealing buds- if not worrying me..). Actually, the more grafting I do, the more I lean toward as little human intervention as possible :wink:

And I agree with the strength of a good whip & tongue graft; as I'll describe to my customers, "The tongue is strictly structural," then I’ll gently shake it. But I'll never forget watching an adult Robin land on a cleft-grafted scion -- I cringed! But it held!! Now I’ve had problems with Humming birds using scions as perches; the grafts hold fine, but they’ll knock off the tender buds!

If you're not getting an airtight and waterproof seal with the budding bands, the addition of Parafilm sounds like a perfect alternative. I'll have to see what that film co$ts, my new Budding bands weren't cheap... and since HOS doesn’t reimburse us for our materials at the Exchange, that could add up. But for some of the same reasons as you - I brought my Daughter as my graft-wrapper this Spring. She's got the speed, dexterity and eyesight that her Dad's... beginning to take more seriously.. And like I also tell our customers, "I wouldn't let you leave with anything I wouldn't except for myself." And they believe it!

I do use the largest Budding Bands they make; and yes, they're the 8-inchers - and I think they're 3/8' wide. But if in doubt - we’d tie them off and use another; actually combining the large ones and some small (thinner) bands I have.

I use a one inch paint brush with Doc Farwell's grafting seal. Problem is, after hours of grafting at the exchange it generally dries out so bad it ruins the brush.. So I'll tuck it in a baggy between use ...if opting for plan B: making a long slanted slice on a scion whip and using that to dab Doc onto the scion tips. I'll only use the brush with the more complicated, if slightly larger miniature cleft grafts, and at home.

...And again... we can always use another grafter (or 5) at the Spring Exchange... sounds like you'd do a fine job. Then I can play with your Parafilm :lol:

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Tue Jun 05, 2007 11:51 am
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Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 1:21 pm
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Location: SW Washington
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On my apples, the Farwell's on top of rubber band degraded so fast that I wouldn't recommend it. I'm talking a week or two if I remember correctly. It may have been somewhat better on the grafting bands. The cleft graft I tried had no chance, being exposed to the elements way too early.

Thanks Viron, perhaps in a year or two I'll feel competent enough to risk the hopes and dreams of others on my grafting skills. My cutting skills still leave much to be desired.

I get the impression from you that you do most of your grafting while both scion and stock are dormant. I'm wondering if perhaps it is less necessary to cover the buds since there is less drying pressure on them due to the cooler temperatures and higher humidity. By the time the outside warms up and dries up your scions probably already have a happy vascular union through which moisture can be supplied to the growing buds.

I was out there grafting in 85 degree weather and some of my scions likely have been stored a bit to long in sub-optimal conditions. I feel more confident that they will get a fighting chance having the buds sealed in until they decide to push.

P.S. If I remember, I'll bring some parafilm to the next HOS event I attend so you can give it a try.


Tue Jun 05, 2007 1:05 pm
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