I picked up some scion wood (Morus Nigra – Black Beauty) from CRFG. I have a couple of Russian mulberry seedlings (Morus Alba) that I wish to graft the scionwood to.
Are there any particular details to pay particular attention to regarding grafting mulberries: such as
When to graft? Should the rootstock be actively growing, air temperature above a certain point.
Can I just do a dormant graft?
Are mulberries fairly forgiving as far as the method of grafting is concerned? Or can they be tricky?
Last year, I grafted Pakistan on water sprouts of a large male Morus alba tree. It was March 15; if I remember correctly, the stock just started pushing green, so it was out of dormancy. All 4 grafts took and grew well, all cleft grafts.
Mulberries can be grafted at any time of the active growing season (with or without dormant scions). That being said, your highest success rate will be a dormant scion onto rootstock that is just budding out. Higher success rates are achieved in the cooler months (above freezing) with day-time temperatures below 80 degrees F. If you are grafting during warmer periods, the grafted plant should be kept in a shaded location, or provide a covering of some sort for the grafted scion.
If your scions appear dehydrated, soak them over-night. Just prior to grafting, wrap the scion in one layer of Parafilm (it is easier to wrap the scion before it is grafted, and less disturbing to the union). The various grafting tools are very helpful for the novice (someone recently posted about a v-cut grafting tool). After joining the scion to the rootstock, wrap the union in Parafilm then wrap the union well with vinyl tape (comes in 1/2" wide multi-colored rolls at big box stores, or use black electricians tape and cover the final product with a bit of aluminum foil so the black can’t soak up damaging heat).
In a couple weeks the growing buds will push right through the Parafilm. Don’t remove the vinyl tape for a couple months or when it starts to appear severely constricted.
They don’t appear to be too picky about the grafting method…just as long as cambium layers are in good contact.
Sorry…I tend to get carried away when it comes to grafting…I relate well to a recent forum member’s post when he said he would rather be grafting than going somewhere on vacation.
My very first grafts ever were on mulberry last year and most were in less than optimal conditions. My grafts done when leaves were just appearing were about 80% successful. On a whim I grafted (2 tries) a non dormant scion to an alba rootstock in late June last year, kept it under a shade tree and now have a tree in my orchard. The grafts that did not take both times (dormant and nondormant) were cut with an omega grafting tool. I think the mulberry wood was too soft to get a clean cut with the grafting tool and didn’t get clean cambium contact. The V-cut tool might be a better product for softer wood but it seemed that the tool I was using “mashed” the wood a bit on the cut.
This happens to everybody. I think the scion didn’t make good contact, but made some. I think it dries too quickly so I’m doing things to keep scion in better condition before grafting, like store correctly, soaking, using buddy tape instead of parafilm, and keeping it humid around the graft by wrapping with press and seal, which is a translucent white plastic wrap that sticks very well and looks like parafilm. Well I’m experimenting with this method, not doing all grafts like this. Worried about mold so will air out these grafts and check on them.
I want to clarify that the scion could be good, but the cut at the graft union tries to dry and scar like any plant would, it doesn’t know it’s being grafted. And sometimes parafilm is not enough to avoid it. Bad contact is probably in play too, make sure cuts are straight and not concave, use a one sided blade.
And it can make a huge difference. I’m an early type of guy. I have had better luck starting early. I start grafting when the trees bloom. An old local gardener told me that, and so I tried it last year and almost everything took. Also someone here mentioned it too. I started at that time, I have a lot to graft and little time so it was weeks later that I finished. I expect the same this year. i will do it in a couple hour sessions a week till it’s done.
I am hesitant to post this because it will probably be scorned upon, but I’ve found this to be helpful in grafting success. As soon as I make a cut (on scion or rootstock) I spray the cuts with a dab of water…If you are really fast at grafting this, of course, is not needed…but it is very important that no drying of the cambium occurs. I heard one grafter saying that you should join your grafts in less than 15 seconds to prevent drying…I’m not that fast.
many white mulbs(as rootstoc) are bleedy and may even form blobs of sap against atmospheric pressure, so probably better to process the rootstoc first(since it has some upward hydraulics working for it) , then process the scion second(since the scion has no source of moisture) and adjoin to rootstoc as soon as the scion has been whittled to size. This way parching of the scion is kept to a minimum.