2017 Grafting Thread


:confounded: ARGH!! <- That feeling you get when you accidentally knock off the growth that was coming off your graft.


So hard to do though! But I see how it’s the best for the branch long term.


While I struck out on grapes during dormant grafting, I’m cautiously optimistic that cleft grafting green scion to green host is working. Almost 2 weeks ago (July 4th), I grafted about 10 Jupiter scions onto a Niagra (seeded) host. Most are now starting to leaf out. There is still plenty of time for them to die, but things look pretty good now.

One other thing I tried was only using parafilm to hold some of them together. Those seem to have worked as well.

Note that the field of weeds you see in the two above pics is my neighbor’s old garden- it’s been several years since they’ve used it.

So, today I did some more similar grafts. Encouraged by the initial success. I didn’t use tape on any of them (also, I just couldn’t find the tape…). If you are careful with the cuts, it almost holds itself together. I think that may be why the parafilm was enough. Here’s an example- my fingers are holding the branch, but not the graft.


I checked persimmons at a friend’s farm yesterday. I have these two pictures of three grafts I did (bark grafts.)
I was 7 for 7 on what I did. Even the double bark grafts on one branch both took so actually more like 12 for 12.

I’m standing in a forested area so the pics aren’t so great. Dax

100-45 and another Early Jewel grafted side by side.


Hi everybody,

This was our first year grafting, and it’s been kind of good news/not so good news of late.

The good news is that the Blue Pearmain graft I had more or less given up on has unexpectedly gotten itself going. If it keeps going, that would put us at 20/25 on our apple bench grafts, much better than I was really expecting. Credit to my dad for the knife work, and to all of your for your helpful advice!

On the not so good news front, most if not all of our apples did start to run into problems over the last month or so. Started with kind of crumply looking leaves, and then leaves getting kind of browned out along the edges, particularly on new growth, with some coming out damaged and some failing to really come out at all. I didn’t know what I was looking at, to be honest, but after following a link posted by @mamuang, I concluded that it was probably a nutrient deficiency, most likely potassium, possibly also calcium. (One hint to the latter being that it seemed to be particularly bad on our Ashmead’s Kernel, which can have issues with calcium, if I recall correctly?) So, in “gotta do something” mode, I put on some fertilizer that my wife had gotten for her potted Meyer lemon - and voila, we’ve been getting clean, green growth again. So, big thanks to Mamuang! And if anyone has suggestions about how best to deal with the nutrient issues in the future, I would welcome the suggestions.

Unfortunately, that brings me back to the bad news side of the equation: our pears. I did all kinds of dumb things with them, I’m afraid, the main and worst one being that I stored the rootstocks (OHxF 333) in pots that turned out to drain very poorly. Which was really dumb, dumb, dumb. But anyhow, we ended up with three rootstocks that just died, three other grafts that failed to take though the rootstock seems to have survived, and only four out of ten grafts that have any scion growth at all. Out of those, one, the Tyson, seems to be doing ok now, and noticeably better since the fertilizer application. One, the Magness, started out the strongest - which is not saying a whole heck of a lot - but seems to have stalled out at about four inches of vertical growth. The other two, the Harrow Sweet and the Urbanistes, have hardly put on any vertical growth at all, though there seem to have been some slight positive signs since I put on the fertilizer. In addition, while the leaves that have come out have been mostly clean and green, the growth overall has been kind of limp and floppy.

So, long story short, I screwed up the rootstocks and the pears have been paying the price. My question for you guys is whether you think the pears are likely to be an “it takes time” scenario, where they will eventually recover, apart from the three rootstocks that appear to be dead, or a “time to start over” scenario. If you do think the pears can bounce back from my bad pear parenting, is there something more I should be doing at this point to help them do so? As always, your advice is greatly appreciated.



Supporting pear grafts.


And when don’t support:

This was a plum.


Glad you have success. It is encouraging esp. for new grafters when things work out.

I can’t tell you about how things work with potted fruit trees. I just grafted 5 grafts on 4 OHxF 87 in pots for the first time. 4 have taken. The one that did not was Tyson!!! (but the Tyson grafted on an existing pear tree has taken well).

By the way, others whose trees suffer nutrient deficiency could benefi if you don’t mind posting the brand of the fertilizer for Lemon Myer that you use. They could look up the ingredients and decide if the product could be applicable to their trees.



In my eyes, you had a very successful year. It is a numbers game, and a constant learning process. You have demonstrated dynamism and the right attitude. Your orchard has taken a huge leap forward.

I have also found pear grafts put on minimal wimpy growth, especially on young or dwarfing trees, and especially in dry summers. Neverthless, once the union is made, pear grafts often remain tenacious… and eventually grow away nicely. Rain or watering helps. Modest fert helps. And clipping away any growth that competes with your desired graft helps too. They will eventually succeed.

Keep at it, and enjoy the fun of it. By year 3 or 4, you will be amazed at what the plants can do.


Something I’d like to share that’s already been said about persimmons is heat. I stumbled into it by pure luck. I grafted persimmons the last week of June. It has been very hot and already was hot when I grafted.

Onto the same trees (field grafting doing bark grafts) my friend stuck a lot during May. While still very good success and the fact that we both graft exactly the same each and every single time, there were losses of those he did. I was 100%.

I think everyone should wait until temps are consistently hotter for your area when doing persimmons.

I’d say where my friend got 80% which according to the group is ‘astronomical’, it’s that we are using the bark graft technique.

When I use whip and tongue or use my Fieldcraft grafting tool during May I’ve counted 75% success over a three year period. I’d shy away from cleft grafts for persimmons… I know a lot of you guys are cleft grafters or that clarkinks is a splice grafter… which is pretty uncommon on the group it’s my belief, but by all means, learn to do whip and tongue and definitely learn bark grafts as well as 3-4 flap grafts. You guys will be very safe and comfortable with a knife doing 3-4 flaps. Even on pencil thick scions and seedlings. There’s no danger to it. I’ll post photos today of a mock demonstration at this thread.



Here’s a 3-flap graft on pencil thickness scionwood and seedling-rootstock.

It should be noted that the scion should be wrapped in parafilm or waxed before the cuts take place.

Ok here we go:

Hold the scion in your mouth to keep your hands free:

You see that bud to the left of my knife? I’m going to make my flap cut on each side of it:

Use your fingernail to bring the bark down:
there are fancy knives with a bark lifters but all you need for any thickness of bark is your fingernail to get it started:

Hold the flaps down. On large trees you bark graft you may need to put your entire hand over the seedling to press the flaps down. In this case, two fingers do the job:

I’ve put enough pressure on the flaps to keep them bent downward for the time being:

First cut on the scion:

Second cut… typically you leave a sliver of bark between each cut. Don’t be concerned if you don’t have bark between your cuts. It’s not going to make one iota of difference:

Now you’re seeing all three sides of the scion:

An additional photo with the scion turned a bit more:

Look at the diameter of your flaps and the diameter cuts on your scion. Figure out which way the flaps cover the scion, best:

Hold the flaps in place at the top and have the clothespin in your free hand ready to attach it at the top:

Start wrapping from below. You don’t use much pressure. You take your time looking at all three flaps as you gently wrap until you reach the clothespin. Go all the way to the bottom of the clothespin and then you’ll remove the cloespin:

I needed more tape to be able to cover the flaps in entirety. So I’m beginning with a new piece where I left off:

Everything is covered. I’ll remind you again the scion should have been covered in parafilm or dipped in wax already:

Now I’m going to return my tape slowly to the exact spot where the scion rested into the seedling:

I’m there! My tape is centered where the scion meets seedling. With force I’m going to wrap around this joining spot. I’ll go around at least twice. This is where sturdiness happens. While the scion will still be wobbly after finishing wrapping over this intersection tightly, it will go nowhere as it heals and stitches together:

I’m finished with the exception of going up and down the entire taped area and pinching with my fingers to squeeze on the tape to complete the work:

Last thing to do is add a bird perch that doubles as a stake to secure the growth from the scion to.



Did you put the black tape sticky side in or sticky side out?


I grafted my persimmons in late May, and my current count is 10/17 (59%), which is OK, but I think it was closer to 70% in the past. Maybe it was lower because I was grafting to rootstock suckers, some of which are pretty shaded. It’s also possible that a chilly spring had us behind schedule a bit. I’ll hold some wood back next year and graft a bit later.

Nice demo! I’ve never tried a 3 flap graft, but it looks like it should have a decent take rate due to the extensive contact. It does look a bit time consuming though. What situation is it best for? I think I remember hearing that it was useful for nut trees (Hickory or Pecan?).


@clarkinks sticky side in.

@BobVance Thanks, Bob. It works really-really well late in the season for anything. Same regards to bark grafts. You get immense contact, absolutely. You’d go from say 70% of something to 95%.

Either bark grafts or 3-4 flap grafts work on the most difficult to graft trees and shrubs. You’ll see your takes go from 10% to 90% instantly. Do it anytime the bark is slipping. Early on or late. If you see those mouse ear size leaves, the bark is easily slipping.

I can do 3-4 flap grafts so fast your head would spin. Even holding a bareroot rootstock in my hands. It takes me maybe 4-5 seconds to cut the scion and it takes me all of 10-15 seconds to peel down the flaps including making the cuts for that.

I clip on the clothes pin and wrap it up and I’m sure I’m done within a minute or less.

On inch or more diameter wood I can probably do a graft in a minute and 1/2 without chitchat going on.

I get into a rhythm and it’s just whip whip whip with the knife while I’m kind of staring off into space thinking about how beautiful it is outside.



When I was really short on grafting wood and had a bunch of really large rootstocks 3"+ in diameter I used rind aka bark grafts with a single bud from scion wood unusable for most things. If you use a 1 foot scion or a 1/4" scion with bud I’ve found the growth rate changes very little. Either way you get several foot of growth in a year. The only advantage to using 1 foot scions is they don’t break off as easy as fresh green new growth wood during wind storms. Overall I prefer cleft to bark grafts with small wood though because cleft grafts heal in 2 years on larger rootstocks whereas bark grafts can take twice as long to heal.


Cleft grafts have been done for thousands of years. It’s because they work. I’ll do a cleft graft when I have 1/4" scionwood and 1/2" rootstock; I always do bark grafts on larger caliper like 1" with pencil or slightly larger scionwood. 3" caliper rootstock or larger I always use bark grafts. It’s so simple. It’s kind of fun whittling the scion. In fact, I enjoy doing it immensely.

A 7’ tall hickory with two 3/8" scions bark grafted into it last year have grown 5-6 ft. this year. You just have to be aware this is going to happen and prepare the tree with a long and very sturdy stake.

But I hear you Clark. For whatever reason or reasons clefts are not my go to graft. On easy fruit trees it doesn’t matter what you do. For fun I cleft grafted an oak this year and it took. I just wanted to see if it would. I likely wouldn’t try it on a bundle of oaks because I know that whip and tongue or my tool yields great results, & because I was told in the beginning to do techniques where a lot of cambium is touching and is necessary.

You know we all figure out what works in the end. I still don’t believe that peaches are more difficult or persimmons are more difficult or nut trees are more difficult than say apples or pears. I did learn this year that heat influenced better takes. Even if I had 80% I would still be standing there scratching my head and wondering why the other 20% didn’t take… so I actually unwrap them to find out why…

I always blame the wood whether the scion or rootstock when a graft doesn’t take unless I saw that I had a bow in the connection so the cambiums were not touching. You’d be surprised to hear that of those that possibly didn’t take, for me it’s 100% of the time it’s the same cultivar. If I get 75% of say 50 persimmon grafts, 10 of a single cultivar didn’t take. I see it every time. The wood may have looked good when I grafted it, but in the end it was junk. The wood simply died. I leave 5% to chance.



I agree completely it’s the wood and weather. Sometimes it is either it is compatible wood or it’s not. That one great variety is the one that always fails for me 100% . Then I look another 5 years to find scions again. At this point most of us are not practicing technique though we may be improving our technique. I’ve not done the flap grafts so that’s going to be something new to me. I hope to try that with hazelnuts next year because I think it’s really going to be difficult and I will learn a lot from it. Callery rootstocks are my favorite to graft because it feels kind of like having lunch with an old friend we go way back. I hid the fact I grafted callery for many years because I knew how hated they are by many expert orchardist. Wild callery are my most challenging trees to graft and you never know what will take or not. The genetics is different on every tree. Some take really easy but some are hard. That little yellow pear will graft to most pears. I use it frequently as an interstem. Wild callery don’t give up easy I’ve seen them grow where nothing else will. I have some high alkaline soil and they don’t even like to grow there but yet they can. Clefts are a graft I do because they work well. They take a lot of time but I feel they add strength to the graft. I love to read your techniques it’s very interesting. Thanks for posting your findings.


My pleasure.

There are other things that aid in success. A heavy handled knife vs. a Victorinx knife will change your whole game. Having something heavy to glide the blade thru the wood vs. using more body muscles and pulling the knife because it weighs virtually nothing doesn’t make for flat cuts. The right tool for the job is like a symphony orchestra playing w/o missing a beat. I can see the conductor (my Dad) telling me that since I was a little boy… he also ‘conducts’ while he’s driving his car listening to symphony music. Tells me how badass he is. He renders me speechless constantly and smiling often.

And if that knife doesn’t scare you, you don’t have it sharp enough. And if you don’t have it sharp enough, you can hurt yourself. In fact you will… there’s no question about it!!

Nice conversation. Thanks Clark.



Nice demonstration.


Thank you, Bill.