Graft Tragedy

Just a couple days ago I posted that I was worried because my otherwise healthy grafts didn’t seem to be attaching themselves to the tree I grafted the scion to, or at least not as well as I’d have liked. Wise people here advised me to provide support for them until they get more solid, and that was on my to-do list for the weekend. Today after work I take my regular evening tour of my orchard and I was utterly devastated!!! CRUSHED!!! As you can see in the photos below, sometime in the last 48 hours (I didn’t check yesterday) I lost 4 (FOUR!!!) of my beautiful grafts!!! Of course it had to get all of the Red Rome grafts because they were the ones I was most excited about. They were also the biggest and best of my grafts,

I’m at a complete loss for what on earth happened. It really looks like someone intentionally did it, but that is just preposterous and almost impossible. Wind would be the usual suspect, but we haven’t had much wind, and all the broken scion broke in different directions and didn’t move much from the point of separation. Therefore, it is my strong suspicion that a squirrel (or perhaps birds) did this. The main nurse limb still has some apples on it and a squirrel would have no other way to get to those apples than to crawl right on and over my grafts. But who knows for sure. I just know that I am devastated! Anyone who followed my original post about this project knows how important it was to me and how excited I was about the success I had been having. Combined with my spray problem early this season, it really makes me just want to give up on fruit. But in a few days I’ll get over it and be back in love with the hobby (I hope).

City, Had the same with some of my grafts this year too. I assumed wind damage too but we only had 10-15 mph winds. Might be just the right wind direction blows them backwards or against the graft and off they come. Next year, they will get braced with a stick of wood or dowel rod. This fruit growing has a steep learning curve at times :frowning:
There’s always next year. Best, Chikn

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That hurts,my fellow fruit grower.Could it have been a larger animal,like a Raccoon or Opossum trying to get the Apples?
I had a few setbacks this year,with I think,Crows,taking most of the Negronne Figs,that were ripening on a little plant and tearing through baggies,stapled to clusters of Newberries that were fruiting for the first time.Rabbits also are still in the process of dismantling some small plants,here and there.
I read one guy said,he plants enough for him and the wildlife.But getting there may take some time and trials. Brady

I lost an excellent Spring Satin plumcot graft last month under mysterious circumstances (probably a bird or squirrel fooled with it).

Sorry for your loss. Channel your frustration into taking care of whatever grafts are left. Cherish them. Orcharding is a numbers game. Keep at it, and expect there to be losses. Be pleasantly suprised and delighted when you succeed. The zen-like patience developed is good for the soul.

You know what, folks, I don’t want to wallow in anyone else’s misery or misfortune, but I must say it is somewhat therapeutic to hear both of your bad luck stories! I hate to say misery loves company but…well, lets just say its a bit comforting to know I’m not the only one who makes dumb mistakes, has bad luck, and is learning from the school of hard knocks. And like Phil said, there is always next year! I’m 45 so I may be pretty good at this fruit growing thing sometime in my late 80’s :smile:

Meanwhile, if anyone else wants to share any struggles, mistakes, misfortunes, or other general problems they’ve had this year, it might be helpful for all of to know we are not alone.


it is tragic and quite demoralizing, and just hoping cityman has other trees/vegies/ornamentals to look forward to, enough to maintain some of his momentum in this noble endeavor.

was thinking raccoon as well, or maybe even a bear.
or maybe just neighborhood kids climbing onto it.
only way these could have been braced substantially enough would have been with 10" nails, or better yet–10" lag bolts screwed onto the stump, then secured with copper wire or galvanized wire.

Sorry for your loss.

Could it be that the phenomenon of sudden incompatibility is the cause?
The picture clearly shows that there is one branch shriveled with dead leafs already

As someone who has drawn their living from the earth for almost 50 years I feel your pain, but also think you should buck it up. Mother nature is a cruel mistress, a crueler mother and you should be grateful for every piece of kindness you trick out of her.

She has so, so many children that I think her only parenting strategy is to push us out into the world to figure it out for ourselves through a great deal of failure and disappointment- and she cares no more for humans than she does for her precious fungus and insects!

When you butcher a vigorous well established tree like that and throw on some grafts, those grafts get all the root of the tree working for them. In a healthy tree this means your grafts grew with incredible vigor which can be a good thing but it is not a natural condition. What a nice and interesting lesson to learn in your first foray into grafting.

The first time I tried to graft I didn’t get a single take. All I learned was that I needed a lot more information. Boo hoo.

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Yep, it hurts, but that’s one of those too-common Murphy’s Law deals that bust out every now and then. It sure is a whole lot less hurt than many other items on the menu. A few days ago a strong storm blew in and broke off several prolific fig grafts that were multiple branched and 2 ft+ tall each growing from the same scion. Although most were bark grafts and thus more challenged by the leverage, even a seemingly strong cleft graft also broke off. Those big leaves make quite an effective sail to catch wind. Conclusion: super fast growing fig branch tissue is weak and needs structural support when the scions become sailboat sails. Or, wind blocking. Easy come, easy go.

What Matt said. I’ll be in the same boat I am 100% sure when I start fooling with fruit grafts. The plus: take your lumps as one of the few folks who will be able to propagate food trees in the zombie apocalypse.

Sympathies your way, CM.

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It was wind city…it’s been getting about 1 graft every 3 days for me here. It’s always the best growers because they catch the most wind. It’s also always the ones you are most excited about because in my experience that is how it goes with gardening. It’s how it always goes.
We just gotta suck it up. It’s just another challenge, but it is a pissy one.

If you are losing so many to wind, why not pinch them back for stoutness?

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My thought exactly. Brace or prune them back. Next yr they’ll be a lot stronger. This yr they need help. A graft onto a big root is going to blow out if not supported or cut back.

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You may want to go back with the old fashioned Rome Beauty instead of the newer Red Rome, as the flavor is superior.

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I understand your pain Cityman, a couple of years ago I had some cherry grafts take off and grow beautifully all summer long only to wake up one morning to find that a deer had raked them all off with his antlers during the night. This hobby seems to be mostly an uphill climb with a few rewards along the way.

Sorry for your loss.

I’ve been putting up supports this week. I use scrap lumber cut to 1/2"x3/4", some screws, and zip ties. I try to only use 2 screws, but sometimes it takes an extra to stabilize on some surfaces. I also paint black screw heads white when they are facing the sun. I don’t know if it matters though. I keep the zip ties loose so the sprout can move around some.

This happened to me last year. although I think the deer were going for the cherry leaves leaves, they were the first scions I’d ever lost to breakage. Later I lost a plum on peach that was very vigorous.

But I’ve also had unsupported plum grafts that grew more than 7’ in the first season without support or breakage. These were way above deer height though.


That was tough to swallow. I loss some good persimmon and stone fruit grafts to the wind and birds. As I mentioned in the past that aftercare is as important as the grafting process, Cheer up, you can re-graft next Spring.


I lost a lot of new grafts last year due to the aforementioned reasons. I cut the remaining ones back last year and this year they look excellent. I’m sorry we all know how discouraging that is. One year I lost to the birds, then wind, and then grasshoppers. I can’t complain about an equal number of times I was very successful grafting.

really feel sorry for your loss @thecityman , but you know what? Your efforts and (almost) successful attempts deserve loads of commendation. If not for the mishap, your grafting success rate on that stump was, by itself, amazing, considering that you’re relatively new to the craft.
while it is true that it takes several years, or maybe even decades, for people to have some expertise in growing fruit, it is quite apparent that you will be giving out advice(just like many are doing here) at any time in the near future.
way sooner-- rather than later, i am sure :thumbsup: