Cherry Grafting Questions

In 2020 I planted a sweet cherry variety that I think was probably a bad choice for my area (Craig’s Crimson). I am planning to top work it with another variety next spring (2022). The only fruit trees I have grafted before are apples. The only grafts I have done are whip-and-tongue and cleft grafts, but I am fairly proficient at both.

What is the best grafting technique to use for sweet cherries? Is there anything I should do differently from when I am grafting apples?

if you want to go down a rabbit hole, watch some of the top videos from this youtube channel “all about grafting” which is a guy who runs a business in eastern WA grafting sweet cherries

I’ll summarize, he avoids bark grafting anything older than ~10 years (not a problem for you) and instead stumps them to get suckers first and grafts the suckers

he grafts suckers when he has them, and for younger trees he does either bark grafting or wedge grafting, see this video

my own experience is two grafts last year, I did them very early in spring with both scion and tree dormant. one was a rootstock sucker and it took and grew like crazy. the other was a weak growing branch and it didn’t take

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oh and we’re coming up on bud grafting season, if you can get budwood that would be a nice low risk thing to try and since you’re in CA you could actually get decent growth this year

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I’ve watched all of Ken’s videos over the years and I don’t recall ever seeing him use bark grafts for cherries and he advised not to do it. He has a number of videos of bark grafting for apple though. For cherries he sometime uses what he calls a “wedge graft” for big stumps but prefers to let the stump sucker out for a season and then side graft or whip and tongue graft to the suckers while leaving one large temporary “nurse limb”. Otherwise the large root system of the stump will flood the grafts and ruin them.

I’m in Northern CA zone 9B and have performed somewhere between fifty and a hundred grafts on cherries in the past few years. Based on Ken’s advice and my limited experience I have found that grafting early in the season is best. This means mid February in my climate. When grafting at this time of year the only failures that I have are from bad rootstock or highly questionable scions that I was forced to use due to limited supply.

To answer the OP, both whip and tongue and cleft graft work well for sweet cherries. Plan to graft earlier in the season than for apples.


Thank you! I’m in zone 10a, so my climate is really close to yours. What works for you, should work for me. I’m actually growing my own scions. I ordered a cherry of the variety I want, and I’m growing it in a pot just to make scions. Sadly, I have nowhere left that I could plant it in the ground.

I have had very good success with sweet cherries grafting when the buds are swollen and almost ready to open. I’m in 7B, for me it’s late February/early March. As @danchappell said before Apples.

Cleft grafts early, and bark grafts after bark slip have both worked well. As long as you have a cambium cross you should be successful.

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I think you’re right, I looked again and I think his bark graft video was on apples

Hello CA_Poppy, and the rest of the people on the forum.
Before answering I have to apologize for my long absence from the forum, since I have been convalescing from a knee prosthesis intervention that has had me completely inoperative for a few months.

Well, now we return to the subject since I have extensive experience with cherry trees.

As long as the size of the rootstock allows it, without a doubt the best grafting system in cherry is the whip and tongue system, since the union is perfect, unlike other systems such as cleft graft that in cherry makes very bad unions. generating bulging at the graft point and generally ending in breaks caused by the wind.

The whip and tongue graft in cherry should be done at the end of winter, and the best time is just before the rootstock enters a vegetative state, it can also be done in early spring when the rootstock is entering a vegetative state, but it is much better to do it in those 10 or 15 days just before the rootstock enters a vegetative state.

If the diameter of the rootstock is too large, throughout the spring and with the rootstock in a vegetative state, the Chip Budding graft can be used, which also offers very good results and makes perfect unions.

It also very well the bud grafts in T.

But as I mentioned, do not use the cleft graft system, since in cherry it is not recommended.

When they are adult trees of great diameter, and what is intended is a change of variety, the system used is the crown graft.

If you have any questions you can ask me and I will solve all your questions



I have much less experience on grafting cherries (or any fruit for that matter), but I had really good success with cherries with clefts towards the end of winter/early spring, aka late feb here in Bay Area. I t-budded some last summer (late May/early June) with new growth and 50% woke up the same year and dried out while the others woke up this spring and growing well.

I am also curious what varieties are you planning to graft on your tree, that you think works well in your area.

I’m only planning to graft on Royal Crimson. I already have Minnie Royal, Royal Lee and Lapins. They are all growing well, and all of them set a few fruits this year, which I didn’t expect since I only planted them last year.

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