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 Interstem grafting 
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Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2010 4:30 pm
Posts: 8
Post Re: Interstem grafting
I did think of a reason why nurseries would do the process in two years, which is if the bud 9 wood was in short supply. It only takes one bud to bud a tree, but a whole row of them for an interstem. It seems that this problem could be overcome if bench grafters saved their bud 9 waste wood, but that would require planning or networking or something.

My interstem trees did well and were just planted in the ground the last couple of days. They grew with nearly the vigor that I usually see in M111 grafted trees, but I can't say for sure that isn't because I took better care of the nursery row than usual or that any other unknown factor didn't account for the difference. I think its likely that they will be quite vigorous until they get a little bigger and then slow down. They were clearly more vigorous than the trees that were on bud 9 only.

I guess what I learned so far is:

Use good scion wood (I knew that, I just didn't have it. leave a shoot of bud 9 and or M111 to grow out until you are sure the grafts will take AND grow. That way you can still get a rootstock out of it if the top doesn't take. The extra shoots could always be pinched back a little if necessary to maintain dominance of the scion shoots, but rubbing them all out might do the tree in if the varietal scion doesn't take.

The M111 will infer vigor to the tree that partially counteracts the bud 9 dwarfing... at least initially anyway. It seems highly unlikely that the clear difference in height and girth between the directly adjacent blocks of 20 or so trees each... one of varietals on interstems and one of varietals on bud 9 roots only... was due to any other factor.

Choose varietals carefully. I ended up re-grafting a few of them because I changed my mind. This will set those trees behind the others almost a year. I certainly tried to choose carefully, but....

Next I'll just have to see how they grow. I had a heck of a time deciding on spacing. I ended up going with 8 feet for allegedly vigorous varieties and 6 feet for medium to weak varieties. I had to balance the possible effects of drought here in the summer months with little or no supplemental water against the invigorating effect of the M111 under-stock and the widely varying recommendations on tree spacing. There is generally little qualification in those tree spacing recommendations regarding even the most basic important factors like tree training styles. Yes, there is always pruning, but I'm sort of after miniature tree forms and don't want to be required to relentlessly prune back to control size. So, again we'll see. If it wasn't for the drought factor I probably would have gone to 10 feet just in case.... but then maybe I just got a little greedy for the extra four trees.

Thu Feb 24, 2011 8:18 pm

Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1146
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
Post Re: Interstem grafting
It seems a commercial operation could plant a ‘bud 9 tree’ (or three) and let it send up watershoots - heck - rootshoots would work too! They could harvest all the lengthy interstem wood they needed. But it would still require some far trickier grafting with a lower percentage of takes than simple budding.

The Make-A-Tree crew will be putting trees together this coming weekend at CCC - generally someone collects the bud 9 tops I believe. And at the grafting tables of the Scion Exchange we do our best to keep a bucket set aside for interstem extras. I don’t know where you’re located - but if you could contact any of the folks involved with either of these events (and provide the bucket) you’d likely secure some free interstem wood.

Otherwise, good points and great update - thanks ~

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Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:59 pm

Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2010 4:30 pm
Posts: 8
Post Re: Interstem grafting
Thanks, I'm good on interstem wood for this year with a few left overs from some bud 9 stocks grown out this past season. it does seem preferable to make good fits in bench grafting to insure a fast growing healthy tree. I've noticed that good fitting grafts, especially whip and tongue, with maximum cambial contact really do seem to fare better in the first year than offset grafts with mismatched wood sizes that take longer to heal. And I guess that's just what we should expect. I suppose that finding well matched understocks, intermediates and scions could be another limitation not present in the two year budding system. Regardless, it seems that if good material can be secured doing it all in one year is worthwhile for small scale work.

Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:12 pm

Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2010 4:30 pm
Posts: 8
Post Re: Interstem grafting
Just a few further thoughts and comments. I still get quite a few hits from this thread off the link to my blog post. I also get a surprising number of hits from searches for interstem grafting. I've updated the post a couple times to include my experience so far. One thing I feel pretty sure of now, is that scion length is not that important in regards to success of the graft if measures are taken to prevent dessication. There is more danger of the graft moving with a long interstem or scion, but that can be worked around with splinting. Removing all buds on the interstem and painting it with wax, or grafting paint, or wrapping with parafilm should control the moisture loss. I don't think the multiple grafts are much of an issue either. I grafted 6 dormant grafts in a row on the same stock, just to see if it could be done and they all made it. That's all assuming good stock, scion and interstem material as well good aftercare and a bit of luck with the weather., but I think it's all pretty doable. I can see why commercial nurseries might do it in two years, but the rest of us probably don't need to. ... big-roots/

Thu Apr 11, 2013 8:09 am
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