Best timing for peach grafting in the PNW

After being inspired to go check my peach tree by another thread, I inspected all the fall grafts I did on the tree, and it looks like they are mostly still alive, despite not growing in the fall. Both bark grafts and the only cleft graft are still alive, and two out of four T-buds look alive, too. Here’s what the bark grafts looked like when they were freshly grafted (September 18) vs today.

Does anyone else in this region do their peach grafting in the fall instead of the spring/summer? When @Noddykitty gave me these scions last fall he said he was having success with fall grafting, and that was the first I’d heard of trying that for peaches here. My spring and summer peach grafts have all failed, so I think I’m sticking with fall ones from here on out.

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After years of spring and summer peach grafting failures, I tried last August on a spring purchased tree whose grafted top had never budded out. I replaced it with a piece of Betty peach. I was surprised that the graft took. But I didn’t know whether to attribute success to the ready -to-go rootstock or time of year.

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Those look great. What’s the rootstock?

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It’s on the top of one of the main branches of my Oregon Curlfree tree, which I bought bareroot from Online Orchards a few years ago, but it didn’t specify a rootstock. When I inquired about it, they said it was “peach standard” but didn’t answer when I followed up asking what specifically it was.

The other two things that I grafted on other branches of the tree in the fall from @Noddykitty were Salish Summer (only one T-bud is still alive, hope it grows this spring) and Kreibich nectarine (cleft graft still alive but looks to be more dormant still).

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I assume peach standard means a seedling.

But anyway, I wanted to know what it was grafted directly to, the Oregon Curlfree. So peach to peach.

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Yes, it seems like the mid August to first week Sep always works best for me too! Great job Winn!
Dennis
Kent, wa

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I did several nectarine grafts in Fall and a few in Winter 2023. Root stock peach tree. There were a few that took within weeks and some that will have to wait until the new year. Experiment with scion that went dormant and graft onto the tree that’s nearly asleep.

Done in Fall 2023. Took within couple of weeks

Done in Fall 2023. The bud is swelling and the bud at the tip is green for 2024.


Done in Winter 2023. The scion is dormant. The tree is 90 Percent asleep.T graft.

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It is interesting to read of people trying to graft peaches in such a mild climate where trees barely go to sleep. However, the dynamics probably don’t change all that much in that conventional grafts take best when trees are actively growing in whatever time is “early spring”. Where you are that might be as early as February, I don’t know. Here it is a couple of weeks after petal fall. Maybe where you are, hot spells at that time might kill establishing grafts without protection from aluminum foil- I don’t know.

You need the advice of a serious and experienced grafter in your specific climate, but here, peaches are the last species I graft in the spring- if the weather is too cool the wood often dries out before joining the mother- too hot and the same thing can happen but the tree needs to be in vigorous, early growth. .

On the other hand, commercial nurseries rely on bud or shield grafts that they must do there in about Sept. but I suspect UC Davis has specific info on that. Also, Dave Wilson nursery must offer guidance.

Here is a Dave Wilson video showing how to do a bark graft. I prefer doing splice grafts to one year shoots for a more elegant transformation, but I guess commercial growers go radical.

Others say best timing in your region is just at bud swell, but in this sheet from UC Davis, winter is suggested as the ideal time. Hmmm… Stone Fruit Propagation by Grafting & Budding - Fruit & Nut Research & Information Center

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I think it will be very different in most of CA compared to western WA & OR. But I’ve tried February peach grafting (failed), April grafting (failed), and June/July T-budding (failed). I’ve had success grafting other things at these times, like feijoa, avocado, mulberry, and pear, but 0% for peach.

I think the problem in late winter and early spring is we never get enough warmth for vigorous growth at this time, even if the trees are breaking dormancy due to the extremely high chill hours (I’m at 1800 Utah chill units this week) and temperatures being mostly above freezing despite the high chill.

Then, once the rain abruptly stops, the problem from late spring through summer is it’s so dry (basically no rain at all) that things dessicate too fast. The trees seem to bleed a lot then, too, causing the T-buds to fill with sap.

In late summer and early fall, the rains begin to return, but it’s still warm enough to callus at least. None of my late September grafts or buds showed any growth before dormancy, but the rate of success was pretty high, based on current bud swell.

At least that’s my theory. Most sources of advice that I could find are geared toward the very different climate of the CA central valley, or the also fairly different climate of eastern WA, since those are places peaches are grown commercially (unlike here, for the most part).

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Are you using parafilm?

Yes, well mostly buddy tape but one of the two for all those attempts except the ones last fall, since it had already started raining. I did use buddy tape on the T-buds (and had 50% take), but only used it on the graft union (not the entire scions) for the bark grafts and cleft graft that succeeded in September. I had fully wrapped the scions on the previous failures.

my best peach grafting success so far has been 1. on small rootstocks that I can bring inside or 2. t-budding in summer. our springs are so cool and gradual that the usual rules don’t apply

when bringing the rootstock inside, I get it pushing growth in a perfect 70 degree environment then do a graft with that zenport clone tool. this doesn’t help for established trees which need to get the t-bud

another tip is that the scion must be totally dormant, or as dormant as possible. Bob Purvis says this too. for us that means we need to take scion EARLY, like in november/december, because chill hours get satisfied by then sometimes and the slow bud swelling is already starting

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I’ve always been amazed at how early they graft stone fruits in California. Temperatures at that time, January, are about 60/40F. It makes me wonder why people think stone fruits need so much heat for grafting success.

T buds in summer should be easy in the PNW. It’s all about timing and technique. The graft should only go onto vigorous, current-season, rootstock shoots that are actively growing with bark fully slipping. Scion needs to be fresh, mature, current season growth. Bark slip helps but isn’t 100% necessary. I wrap the buds with budding rubbers. No buddy tape needed. Only the petiole and bud exposed.

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For me, that would be because every time I try to graft them at first growth they fail, or at least takes are at an extremely low %. If I wait a couple of weeks after petal fall results are completely different.
Anecdote piles up and pretty soon you have an assumption. I do about 100 peach grafts a year.

Still, even stacks of anecdote occasionally lead you in the wrong direction. However, it is big nurseries that have the most anecdote to work with and it tends to be a large community of nurseries that come to agreement. I’d run with Dave Wilson before running with U.C. Davis on this one.

However, I have had success with lower temps than Scott considers ideal, and I consider the mid-60’s to be adequately warm if you are getting sun. Even during rain season, CA tends to get more sunny days than I do in NY. At least a bit inland where peaches tend to be grafted.

https://www.accuweather.com/en/us/los-angeles/90012/february-weather/347625

I don’t doubt your experience at all. That idea seems universal, except in CA. The CA case as I understand it is only for bark grafts onto old trees being converted to new varieties. When I tried it in CA the bark didn’t seem to be slipping.

CA nurseries do their T budding of nursery stock in early summer. Maybe some in fall. Early summer is when the scion wood is available. And the rootstock bark is more likely slipping in June than August/Sept.

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most likely your OCF is on Lovell, that what Northwoods nursery uses for all their peach/nectarines.

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+1 for summer/ green wood grafting.
I have less than 10% success rate for peach grafting which requires atleast 65F consistently. And because peach wood doesn’t last well in the fridge, we cannot graft in late May or June.

Summer grafting has > 60% take rate for me.

Fall is likely too late.

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I guess I should clarify that by “fall” I meant late September, not any further into fall, but my success rate was very good at that point. I’m thinking I’ll try early September next time though, to see if I can get a little growth on the graft before dormancy.

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I tried grafting in late august when it’s still warm. Sept is likely ok too. It will only push next year.

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I have a few peach cuttings sitting in the fridge. Can they be grafted onto a root stock or live tree in late spring?