Bench grafting timing

This is only my 2nd year bench grafting here in NH and I ordered rootstocks from Fedco again this year, but I opted for the later (April/May) shipment because last year I had to keep all 100 rootstocks in my neighbors walk in refrigerator until the ground was ready. This year it appears to be an early Spring and I’m second guessing myself and wondering if there are any potential drawbacks to grafting later into the Spring?

Im guessing that it will be harder for the union to heal in the warmer temps?, or will the rootstocks break dormancy before healing takes place?

I have been playing the second guessing game for exactly the same reasons. I think I am understanding that (for many fruits) the cool factor facilitates callusing in dormant grafts, but warmth is okay for actively growing grafts (i.e. once bark is slipping.) And, of course, some species are very forgiving, leaving others the reputation of being fiddley. All that’s to say, I’m watching, too.

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I wouldn’t think you’d have any problem. I’ve grafted apples anywhere from mid March to early June here in Z 7B.


I graft apples just about any time after daily highs are above 50F with dormant scions. Once we get into mid July thru mid August I am using fresh green scions only. If temps are above 80F it’s a good idea to shield your grafts first 3 weeks until bud break with aluminum foil shiny side out to prevent suns heat from interrupting callousing
Kent, wa


I just found 3 grafts I did outdoors on Feb. 8th have taken. One from my ‘stooling’ efforts, other 2 roots from some small ones not grafted last year. I’m in 6b.
I did a handfull of late Feb, and a lot of early March apple bench grafts (and pear grafts to outdoor callery seedlings). I’ll be doing another dozen or so grafts today. This is ideal…50’s and sunny.

Feb and March grafts have a better survival rate (but not by a big margin) for me than April grafts. And I think I’ve lost all but one May graft I ever did.

Have grafted in 35 degree conditions outdoors, and have grafted benchgrafts indoors at 68 to 72 degrees. For me, it’s more about my comfort, not about the success of the graft–for I’ve had from 77 to 90-something percent success under practically any condition…so long as it’s not HOT.


im in another climate. So can’t really judge how your weather is around april/may. But if it’s below 70f (or even quite a bit above that) the heat should not bother a healing graft. In most cases it even helps it heal faster.

If your worried about heat. Making a little shade with alu foil or some watered down interior latex paint (painted over grafting tape/union) should help.

In an ideal situation, the rootstock is breaking dormancy while the scion is still dormant when grafting.

Your situation seems to mimic that. If you keep your scions dormant (in your fridge for example)

i graft a lot on rootstocks when they start to leaf out. Best takes that way.
Although apples, pears, asian pears, medlars, plums and quince have also done fine for me when grafted when both the rootstock and scion where fully dormant.