Apple grafts with twine


First time apple grafter here.

To those who have grafted and then stabilized the union with twine, string, raffia: when do you remove the stabilizing wrap of choice?

Literature from some of the universities say to remove it when there is ‘good growth’. What is good growth? Buds starting to open on the scion? Leaves fully open on the scion? Scion growth (elongation)?

I whip grafted 3 weeks ago, tied with jute, and parafilmed the entire scion. All grafts have leaves emerging. So when do you remove the twine, string or raffia?

Maybe I’m over thinking this but I can’t imagine a graft of this age being able to handle wind. Maybe I should have used rubber bands :slight_smile:

I have only grafted a few trees the last couple years and use rubber bands. It seems to work fine. I usually leave them on until mid summer.

I leave it 2 or 3 months.

On the videos I have seen using raffia or plastic strips, they have untied at 2-3 months to stop girdling. Many grafts retied until fall, maybe rubber bands then.

Outstanding for a first time grafter. What’s your secret?

I use parafilm M (there are different kinds of parafilm, not all the same) With the wax paper backing.

The advantage of the stuff is that it breaks down in sunlight or by stretching to much due to scion growth. So i just leave the stuff and never worry about it. I usualy do no more than 2 layers of stretched parafilm over buds. They all brake trough fine. I also somtimes paint over the parafilm with interior white latex paint. All the grafts grew trough this.

On the woody parts of the grafts i sometimes wrap thinner strips of prarafilm 5+ times around (as sort of a rope) if i am worried the wind or a bird might try and move my graft. Even this naturally falls off.

However if you use rope or plastic strips, you will have to cut it loose at some point. I would not worry about it until you got roughly a foot of new growth.

The reason for cutting it loose is that when your scion grows, it also gets thicker. And if the rope/plastic is wrapped to tightly it can’t get thinker and thus the scion is girdled.

However, cutting it off to early, will make your graft more suseptible to mechanicle stress. The mechanicle strength of the graft increases when it heals, but mostly when it “thickens” (new “layer” of growth over the graft)

You can usualy see quite clearly when a graft is getting girdled. (the twig is thicker before and after the spot where you wrapped it and it is girdled) And a little bit of girdeling is not that bad. It takes quite a bit and for longer period of time for it to actually die due to girdling from grafting.

If your getting worried, you can always cut it loose a month or 2-3 after leafing out. (cut don’t try to untie, untying usualy leads to breaking it off, and the cut mark on the graft heals back really fast. might even increase the strength of the graft. (you cut lengthwise over the graft) And if your worried it might break due to birds or wind. you can rewrap the graft.

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Sounds good Oscar.

There’s not usually a ‘rush’ in removing the wrapping from a graft union…but I have used things that didn’t stretch as the tree grew, and a skinny (girdled) area formed
where the wood above and below the wrapped area grew, but the confined area could not because I used wrapping that wasn’t stretchy.

So, ‘it depends’ is the answer to the “when should I remove” question…but I would not remove protection from the graft for at least a month or two…or until I had a foot or more of new growth.
(And for those grafts that don’t grow but a couple inches…and there will be some…waiting 6 months or more is OK.) (I found some in December when taking inventory that I had not removed, and cut them then…no harm done.)

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Great information, thanks all

It only takes one bird landing to break a new scion off, it takes several growing seasons to achieve the strength of a regular limb! I wait until a complete growing season is done and tree is dormant, then I rewrapped the graft union and may splint it thru the next season. After two growing seasons probably safe unless you let it fruit, or if it’s grown aggressively over a foot, then you may either tip prune or tie it up to another branch.

Dennis, that’s true … still the odds of it are like the odds of having a wreck on the way to work.
(Hopefully not real high).

If you’re afraid you’ll fall down,
it’s not a good idea to learn how to walk. :slight_smile:

If it’s a rare and irreplacable piece of scionwood I can understand extreme caution.
Otherwise, I can’t.

i too use the waxed parafilm wrapping the scion 2xs. usually by the end of the season its cracking and degrading. i just leave it on there until it falls off on its own. by then the union is strong enough to handle heavy winds. i havent had it girdle yet. very easy stuff to work with.