Apple grafting Spring 2024 questions

I have several apple rootstocks that I did not graft onto this spring and would like to graft next spring (Bud 9, EMLA 111, a couple Genevas, and even a couple seedlings). I figure the larger root systems vs a typical first-year rootstock should produce good take rates and good growth.

Most of these rootstocks have grown a lot this summer, and many are rather large, already around half to ¾” or so in diameter. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the more vigorous ones break 1” by the time they go dormant this fall.

The scionwood will probably be typical size, so mostly 3/8” or smaller.

The rootstocks will still be too small for a bark graft, so really my only option is a cleft graft in my mind.

Any other thoughts besides a cleft graft? I’ll add that in my experience, cleft grafts are the most successful cut for me as I am a bit of a butterfingers and can’t cut a good W&T anyway.

Secondly – should I use smaller scionwood and put two scions in each cleft, or use a larger piece (the idea being a larger scion has more reserve moisture/energy) even if the size means I can only graft a single piece on that particular rootstock?

A couple of thoughts!
There may be other options?

  1. Think if you want a single variety tree, or
  2. Perhaps improve pollination with a cross pollinator?

If only a single variety is desired, just cut off your lower scaffolds and graft either whip & tongue at a location in diameter to match scion, or
Use a modified cleft where you choose a place to split the rootstock (off center) to match the scion diameter. Or
Consider a cleft graft with two smaller scions, one on each side.

If you desire a multiple variety tree, a big advantage to save space, then just simply do whip and tongues on the central leader and all scaffolds. The closer to the trunk you can graft, the stronger will be the scaffold for carrying fruit loads. Again here, if grafting closer to the trunk causes a mismatch in rootstock limb and scion, simply use a modified cleft where you split the rootstock limb at an off center spot that matches the scion on both sides. If you make a cut that does not quite match, just align the graft so that the cambium crosses on both sides, or do a good job of matching the cambium on one side only.
Hope this makes you think through the many options that will work!
Dennis
Kent, wa

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I’d favor a cleft there too, and I’d put a scion on either side. The side that you end up pruning off eventually will help the bark heal on that side of the rootstock.

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Good advice Dennis. And a double cleft using two small scions always give good
‘take rates’.

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