Cherry budding, fall, still hot

It’s sep 8 2021. I have 1600 mazzard cherry rootstocks to bud here in Lodi, California. I want to T bud them. (Or Continue trying.). (I couldn’t buy finished trees at the time: rootstock was avail so I took it.)

I tried back in June/July and all the buds failed due to (I think) hot weather and ants. I used parafilm. And wrapped some also with alum foil—didn’t help much. Did not use rubbers or raffia ties.

It should be somewhat cooler starting first of October, below 90 F, finally.

All advice greatly appreciated: I need HELP! Unless it was really the very hot summer plus ants I have no idea why I lost 100%. Scionwood was beautiful and USDA FPS. Rootstock the same! Slipped nicely. No take. Bud dried up.

I am budding my first cherries (first anything) for a small orchard as my retirement income.



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this isn’t directly applicable because I’m in a much easier climate than you and I did a different species. but maybe it’ll help

I did about 50 japanese plum t-buds this summer mostly when it was 80-90F. I used this guide T or Shield Budding

I got maybe 80% takes. I focused on a very tight parafilm wrap and I did multiple wraps with the wraps just above and below the bud (not crushing the bud). the rootstock or sucker I grafted to was actively growing and I grafted to this year’s growth. most of my failures were from the bud starting to grow and getting smothered by the parafilm before I noticed and could cut it off. I think that was because I did more wraps than recommended. I also had some failures when I grafted to last year’s growth (that would be the part of the rootstock that was already there when you got it, I had much better takes grafting to a smaller shoot that came out this year). I cut the bud immediately before grafting, you only want it in your hand for a minute or less to limit drying. keeping scion wood moist is also important with summer budding. the ideal is cutting it from a tree and walking over to a rootstock and t-budding all in the space of a few minutes, if you get it from USDA it needs to be babied the whole time. pro grafters will only take a few bud sticks into the field at a time and keep them in a moist wrap, the rest are stored in something like a humid cooler until right before use

I did a single cherry t-bud this year, it took but it was to a low vigor sucker so it didn’t grow. I think I’ll see it grow next spring

since you’re getting to the end of the season I’d focus on the health of the rootstocks, don’t head them unless you’re sure you got a take so they can get big and save energy for next year in case you do a dormant graft. I lost a bunch of rootstocks when I snipped them off with no take

Good points above. I’d say the most likely cause of failure was not wrapping properly or you budded into thick old wood. You should have been 95% + if the bud went in fully under the rootstock bark and you wrapped up with budding rubbers. I don’t think pros use parafilm just budding rubbers. Adding parafilm over budding rubbers shouldn’t hurt but I haven’t found it necessary.

My concern now would be is the bark slipping really well. That’s important. Also as mentioned above T budding works much better on current season wood that on last yrs wood. I won’t even try on old wood.

Buddy tape is better than parafilm. I do use buddy tape over chip buds not T buds.

This time of yr you may be well served switching to chip budding vs T budding. If chip budding I still use budding rubbers pulled up tight with buddy tape over that.

Anything you do now won’t be forced until spring.

If what you do this fall fails you’ll need to cut the rootstock back to force new wood and T bud into that when it’s big enough.

Agree, I find cherry the most difficult of all, particularly on the older wood when trying to top work my cherries. The most confusing of all is where the cambium layer lies. If you are in doubt chances are you are wrong. The most success I have had has been on new growth, which has emerged after topping my trees. Even then it’s not even 50 %. All you can do is keep trying

I used only parafilm only, not budding rubbers. I am thinking I will use budding rubbers next time since the parafilm cracked away so fast and the bud dried out quickly.

Thanks everybody.


I’m in Tracy, so similar weather, maybe a tiny bit cooler. Budding in summer has very low success rate here due to heat. Bud either in May, before heat arrives, or in late September, after the heat is over. Temps need to stay below 90 F. The forecast is good for the rest of September, so you can start doing it now. Bud on this year’s growth. If you see that the bud took, head 1" above the bud next year in early spring.

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I really appreciate your advice. It’s sept. 30, 2021 today. Weather is nice. Yesterday I tried budding again but the wood I need to bud to is not slipping well anymore. It was perfect back in July. The wood/little tree seedlings have matured more and is more barky/corky. Not much green under the brown bark.

They should have been budded last spring. What should I do at this point?



chip bud

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Ditto on chip budding. It’s a different technique than T-budding, so you’ll have to get used to it with some practice.

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I’d argue peaches are more difficult than cherries.

Well, I irrigated the little cherry trees for 24 hours overnight. That made a huge difference! The bark is slipping much better now. I am able to t-bud in a fairly normal fashion. I am wrapping with a fairly heavy, tight parafilm layer and a layer of aluminum foil in case of heat or ants (ants, etc ARE there. We can’t seem to get rid of them.).

I will know in 2-3 weeks, middle of October, I suppose.

If the buds fail again, should I prepare to graft them this winter as the little trees have grown to about 1 to 1 1/2 inches across? They will be 2 years old before winters end and vigorous.

Thanks to all,


Conditions vary so much from location to location, what works for someone in one location may not work well at all in others. If the rootstock is in its permanent location and you can find enough scion wood I personally would cut those root stock back to say knee high and cleft graft a scion into the top of each one. I personally would wait until the scion just starts to break bud in the spring and hopefully weather conditions are consistently warm without being overly hot for at least a couple of weeks. You have alot of trees to graft so varying your approach might hopefully help you succeed on some. Look at it this way eventually your root stock will be so large you can try bark grafting! LOL Keep on smiling and good luck!

I’ll be honest. I actually like chip budding more than t-budding.

I will (most likely) be moving them from the nursery area over the winter into their final destination, a large field.

(Yeah, my timing is a year off. The little trees should have been budded/grafted when we first planted them: they were much larger we expected, etc. weather was terrible, covid and no farm labor, etc.)

Does it make sense to try to bench graft them (rather than field graft) since we are digging them and moving them? We will have each small tree out of the ground briefly as we move them.