Does anyone here have positive or negative experiences cleft grafting mulberry in Summer? I have a mulberry seedling tree that’s about 3’ 1/2’ tall that I’m itching to topwork (after readling that it takes 6 to 10 years to fruit from seed) but I don’t want to cause harm to the tree. I’d love to hear any experiences or advice!
I seem to have best success if there is apical dominance using existing scaffolds, especially if you are doing multiple varieties. For ballance it’s best to match varieties with similar growth habit (distance between bud nodes being similar) to assure one variety does not dominate the others. Have not seen success with chip buds since they do not have apical dominance, so I don’t bother trying them anymore. But a cleft or whip and tongue can be done now during the growing season. Would not wait beyond mid August. Modified cleftbworks well where the diameters do not match.
Why not T-buds, which work better in summer anyhow, and then you only remove the branches once you know they’ve taken.
I don’t think there is much difference between a T bud and a chip bud. The main idea is that a take does not result in growth unless you can give it a dominant position on the plant.
I’ve only had sporadic success with chip and T buds. I prefer cleft grafts, no matter what time of year, though I haven’t done that many in summer. It has worked for both apple (many years ago) and jujube (this summer).
Good timing with this question- I did this just a few days ago, though it is too soon to know the results.
Earlier this spring I yanked up 8 bird-planted seedling mulberries. Then recently, I was thinking that them growing now was really a waste. So, I stripped the leaves off a branch from my Oscar tree and started grafting.
I’m not sure how it will turn out, so I only did 4 of the 8.
It was getting pretty dark, so I may not have gotten everything perfectly aligned. But I’ve done quite a few cleft grafts, so I’m feeling reasonably confident that some will work.
Here’s a jujube that I grafted in late June (green wood to green wood).
I meant my post as a response to the original post (suggesting using a cleft graft), not as a contrast to your comment about chip buds. But with mulberries, I’ve had less trouble getting them to take (as in callus/heal) in summer so far, without any need for apical dominance. It’s true that they will only start to actually grow once you remove all other shoots, but I don’t do that until the bud looks to have callused.
My problem with cleft grafts on mulberries in summer is the latex sap filling the graft union too much. I’ve only had 1 successful cleft this summer out of almost a dozen attempts, even though I’ve had good success with other species (avocado mostly) all year round. I’ve had closer to 75% success with budding mulberries this summer, though mostly those were done in early July and late June. Not all of the 75% have actually started growing, though, that’s just the callus percentage.
If your tree has multiple scaffolds, start with the top. But do not immediately remove the scaffolds below. This does a couple of positive things:
Keeps rootstock and lower scaffolds alive and reserves them for future grafting should your graft fail.
Once your graft buds begin to push, then you can tip prune the lower scaffolds or remove them should you want only a single variety or you can attempt to add other varieties to those scaffolds.
Here’s an example of one of my mulberry T-buds this summer, Morus nigra “Persian,” where I removed the rootstock branch about 2 weeks ago after the bud had callused, which successfully forced it:
I did that bud a month ago, posted photos here then:
If I had a larger tree that I wanted to graft over at this time of year, I’d do the same thing on all the branches and then just completely remove any that fail.
I graft mulberry all year long. It grows the most during the hot summer. I just grafted my Sangue e Latte mulberry (cleft) on 7/2/23, now today, it has grown over 25" long branches. That’s a record for me to have a grafted scion grow so much in only 5 weeks.
Since I’m in SoCal, I can graft all my fruit trees pretty much all year long. I’m still grafting loquats, mulberry, persimmon, lychee, and avocados now.
I tried two whip and tongue grafts on Morus Alba in July, when we had 110+ highs. I suspected this was bad timing but wanted to try it anyway because I had the scions (Buluku and Black Beauty) ready to go. I thought they were good grafts, and wrapped them in foil against the intense heat. Both failed. Whether that was because of my technique, the quality of the scions, the weather or any other factor is anyone’s guess.
To hot. You need to wait until temperature is 90s F or lower since the graft union will cook at higher temperatures if it was in direct sunlight regardless if you wrapped it in foil. You know how hot it gets in the car when it is parked in the sun. Under the foil wrap it will still get hot enough to cook the graft union.
Ive seen grafts get cooked here. Seems like they do best in the 60-80 range until theyve knotted and pushed a couple of inches.
Ive done summer grafts on mulberries two years running now and have concluded that in this locale, they need to be done by early-mid August. Grafts mostly push and wither once the spring-early summer flush is done. I just did 30+ grafts in mid-late July and most are a total bust. It was a mix of bench grafts on last years potted rootstock, topworking /multi grafting on established trees, and dormant rootstock Ive been sitting on. Our weather isnt helping, but all are doing similar things- namely refusing to grow.
That sounds right, George. I made the attempt out of pure stubbornness, knowing that conditions weren’t ideal. Call it an experiment. I’ll redo those grafts next spring.