Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Greenwood Approach Grafting apples

As reported earlier, we have a "wildlife orchard" and a "serious" orchard.  The serious orchard saw significant tree deaths over the last couple of winters.  Furthermore, I extended it into the vineyard because the grapes were not paying their rent.

I planted Bud-118 apple rootstock in the "holes" and in some of the vineyard annex.  They were puny things when I got them.  They were 3/16" in diameter which is slightly thicker than a wooden matchstick.

Today I attempted greenwood approach grafts on 8 of them.  This is a photo essay of that effort.  After some agonizing, I chose Novaspy as my "frame" variety.  It is supposedly coldhardy to -25F and the USDA reports that it is resistant to fire blight.  It is a good apple in its own right for quality although it has not been a heavy bearer for me.  That may be due to shortcomings in my management.

Ed Fackler, a commercial orchardist in Southern Indiana (a brutal environment for growing apple trees) rates Novaspy 14th on his "favorite" list.  This is high praise from a man who has trialed well over a thousand varieties.

Bud-118 rootstock was bred in Russia.  "Bud" is short for Budagovsky.  It has red leaves which is very useful to determine if the graft was successful or whether you are looking at shoots from the rootstock.  The red leaves make it difficult to photograph, however.
I typically make the bottom cut first.  I make it just above a "nurse" bud when I can.  I angle downward at 30 degrees from vertical (pointier rather than blunter).  Then I make similar cut about 5/8" above that, then angle downward so it intersects with the first cut.  My wedding band is .225" (5.7mm) wide to give you a size reference.  I use a Stanley utility knife.  I use the tip more than the base when making cuts on thin wood like this.
This is a really poor shot of the scion piece because the autofocus kept focusing on the background. You might get a better idea of the shape looking at the shadow. The end of the piece is cut into a "V".  One side is much longer and more gently sloping than the other.  The side with the shorter, blunter cut also has a "nurse" bud.

Another mediocre shot.  The scion piece is the lighter, vertical piece on the left.  the rootstock is the darker piece on the right.
Wrapped up all tight with a #33 rubber band.
These are intentionally very close to the ground.  I lie on my belly to make these grafts.  Bud-118 is not noted for being resistant to fire blight and I want to reduce the exposure.

Being an enthusiastic and proficient lier is almost mandatory when one is a horticultural blogger.  It helps if one can do it with style and panache.  There are, of course, reasons why Northerners are much better liers than folks from the southernmost states:  fire ants.  Some Southerners lie....but they don't so much as lie as levitate a short distance from the ground.  It is almost cheating.  I suspect highly developed arrectores pilorum may be the culprit.

After care

If you know anything about grafting you know that there is not a snowball's chance in hell of these things surviving unless I can ameliorate the sun loading and dehydrating effects of the wind.

That is right, yea old brown paper lunch bag.  I still use them....for grafting.
A little bit of masking tape is added to pinch the top slit shut.  Each approach graft has its own little tent.
With regard to dehydration, I have learned to appreciate how forgiving an actively growing rootstock is to a ham-handed  grafter.  With that in mind, I watered these rootstock yesterday with fertilizer enhanced water.  I watered them again today after grafting.  Rain is predicted for tomorrow.  The temperature is 85 F.  They will either knit together quickly or die quickly.

Expect another report in a couple of weeks.


  1. Learned something new, I never realized you were supposed to graft at the bud. Sigh... Probably why I sucked at it the few times I tried.

  2. Learned something new, I never realized you were supposed to graft at the bud. Sigh... Probably why I sucked at it the few times I tried.


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