Best graft for apples and pears

Hi all,

Looking for a little advise again. The past few years i have bench grafted around 30 or so trees (apples and pears). This year im looking to do about 200. To me that is a reasonable number but i am sure people on here do a lot more!

I am just wondering about grafts and which cut people prefer for success and efficiency when doing apples and pears. I seem to get a fairly good amount of success with clefts and whip and tongues but i must admit, i can cleft graft a lot quicker! However, the first year after grafting i would maybe argue the cleft doesn’t look as neat whip graft but maybe that will be less of an issue longer term.

So which graft do you favour?

Best wishes as always


I see your qestion languishing, and I will try to answer, even though many on here have vastly more experience. I think the reason you arent getting an answer is that some like one kind of graft and others prefer others. Each graft has it’s aficionados and they have their reasons. Some work in certain situations, and perhaps not in others. Some like whip and toungue and others delete the toungue, but get equal results. Some only do cleft grafts and some never do. Whichever you enjoy and can do relatively well will serve you for many years.


Thank you masbustelo. I know some are required for different circumstances (e.g size of scion relative to root) but in the main i think i will try and pick one stick with it to try and improve my skills. Instead of jumping around between them.

Thanks again

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I can only talk from personal experience as it could be different for others. I started grafting last year and did 95% with cleft from pears to avocados. It is very easy and all you need to worry about is to cross the stems (hence the cambiums cross). I read apples and pears are the easiest to graft and I can attest to that. My Asian pear grafts grew vigorously and I didn’t have any failures. Make sure to wrap tight and the graft is forgiving for many of the errors like not smooth cuts, gap between splits, etc.


I’m doing whip grafting and cleft as well from past 5 years. I found Whip graft as one of the best techniques for grafting. Due to of its edges it cannot allow water to stay on the wound and healing process is also faster than the cleft grafting.


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In my mind a number of things come into play when deciding which grafting technique to use. Time of year, environmental conditions (strong winds), number of grafts that need to be completed, etcc. We use a cleft graft on all of our bench grafted trees. Speed and strength being our two biggest factors for those. Nothing wrong with using a cleft graft for bench grafting apples or pears for us. Yes a bit uglier than other graft types but usually by the end of the 1st growing season they are hardly visible.


at the end of the day, i think the one you can do best is the best graft…

not the one you read something about here, not the one you heard good things about on youtube, the one YOU can make behave. There are exceptions, nut trees have a reputation for being pretty finicky, but apples and pears are not, so whatever you do well is going to be a better graft than whatever you do poorly.

I know you were asking with the hopes of “picking one and improving your skillset” and that’s not unreasonable, but there’s very little universal truth, universally :wink: – a piss-poor whip and tongue isn’t going to be better than a meticulous cleft graft, for example.

Now, different grafts have different strengths, including their quickness to “take,” ability to use mismatched scion/rootstock, etc., but yeah, there really isn’t a “best” graft, imho. Also, as a side point: if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball…just ask Patches O’Houlihan. For folks not familiar with the quote, it doesn’t matter…the point is learning one graft isn’t somehow zero-sum, where you aren’t getting better elsewhere…if you go from poor to pretty good in bark grafting, that increased ability to manage your cuts, cambium alignment, wrapping and aftercare, etc. isn’t somehow “useless” if you need to do a whip, or a cleft.

I think the honest answer is there IS no honest answer to your question…that said if you really want to focus, because “you gotta start somewhere,” if anything I would pick 2 techniques, a “scion matches rootstock” like whip or whip-and-tongue, and a “mismatch” technique, like cleft, bark, or chip that lets you work with grossly mismatched scion/undestock situations… But you’re likely to find any grafting makes you better, and you’re also likely to find you can’t always get that reductive. I do probably something like 70% whip and tongue as it’s my most comfortable, but I also do bark, cleft, “offset whip and tongue”, and chip budding to make up the rest–what I do in any given situation depends on things like the scion and rootstock diameters, # buds, position on the rootstock and “accessibility” (I do a fair amount on in-ground plants), etc… the materials themselves, their position and relative accessibility, my ability to contort myself/move the rootstock, etc. tend to determine the “correct” graft for a given situation.


Thank you all for taking the time to give me advice. I appreciate it.

I understand there is no simple answer and it is horses for courses (that may be a uk analogy!). Anyway, i think ill mainly just work with the cleft and whip and tongue depending on relative size of scions etc.

Love the dodgeball quote, saw the movie so many time i have lost count!

I wonder what patches ohoulihan would use to steralise his tools between grafts, i seem to remember him enjoying the taste and the sterility of his drink of choice haha!