Best graft to use at ground level?

Hi again:
I just cut down my rodent damaged apple trees. If you hadn’t seen the previous post, it was really, REALLY bad! Not only the main stem, but any shoots that I hadn’t cut off in the fall and that I could have used for bridge grafting were nibbled completely bare. In some cases from the root to over a foot up. Since most were eaten right to the soil level, I don’t have a lot of stump to work with.
I was thinking about bark grafting my scions, because the stumps are 1.5" - 2.5" and the scions are pretty small. And I suppose doing it as soon as possible, now that the sap wants to flow, would be preferable. But there’s the whole thing with the bark slipping - I’m not sure if it’s slipping enough yet (I’m in Zone 4, near Ottawa, ON, Canada and spring has been pretty slow.) If I have to wait, should I be painting the stumps over with Lac Balsam (that artificial bark compound?)
Does anyone have any suggestions on how to best go about this given the circumstances?
I feel rather inadequate about getting this right… there’s so much I don’t know enough about! :slightly_frowning_face:

a couple pics might help…from your description I’m not sure if I would try bark grafting or resign myself to waiting for a sucker or three to whip or cleft onto…

@Jsacadura has some good videos on grafting. If you can lift the bark you can do it now with apples.
Grafting Fruit Trees - A few techniques - Video

I love bark grafts with small scions! You can check to see if the bark is slipping well:

Take your sharp knife and cut a vertical slice at least a centimeter long into the top of the stump. Use a tiny flat-head screwdriver or a cocktail sword, etc to see if it slides easily under the bark and allows you to peel it back a bit as one sheet.

If so, you can lengthen that same slit and use it for your graft. If not, just cover it with some parafilm and it’ll heal no problem. There will still be enough room left for when it is slipping later.

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Goodness I feel your pain, I lost many of my smaller apple trees to mice or voles this winter, they girdled them right to the ground. I have the same question as you, do I wait for regrowth and graft next spring or do I do a cleft graft right into the stub. I am afraid to cut into the stub to check if the bark is slipping.

I tried to take some pictures. In some of them I’ve included my hand to give you an idea how big and how close to the ground the stump is. One picture shows the worst eaten tree (my Wolfriver) - it was completely stripped from the root to over 2 feet high. I moved a bit of the soil and you can see roots on one of the stumps - it was eaten to almost below ground level. Michael Phillips (Grow organic apples) gave me the tip that I should walk around the trees in snowshoes to compact the snow, so voles cannot as easily burrow through or get as high. I just discovered that they stripped all my Haskap bushes as well - there must have been droves of them! But apparently the vole population can explode at certain times. Unfortunately new users can only include 1 image per post, so I will put one image in each reply. Girdled%20Trees%201

Thank You for the tip Cafeaulait! We’re expecting another heavy rainfall (groan), but as soon as that’s blown over, I’ll give it a try!
Here is another picture (this one shows how useless the white spiral guard was): Girdled%20Trees%202

Thank You danzeb! I’ll see what they suggest. Girdled%20Trees%203

I know! Check out this poor Wolfriver apple! Girdled%20Trees%205

That is a sad sad sight, it is frustrating to find this kind of damage.