Grafting fruit trees... at bud swell/flowering or after flowering?

Hello all,
I been grafting for about 3-4 years and I just wanted to ask a question for clarification.
I usually have success grafting but wanted to hone done my technique for timing.
Specifically for stone fruit like peaches/plums, would you graft at bud swell and/or at flowering stage and/or after flowering when the leaves starting to come out?

I had 18 out of 20 whip and tongues successfully take my 1st year on plums, so hence why i don’t do late spring/summer budding which i heard is more successful.
I still have success doing the whips but I was just curious when you would do them… I have success each year, some years more than others, but forget which exact stage I usually graft.
My thinking is after flowering might be best since most of the energy from the roots will be going into flowering and not necessarily make it past the flowers to the end of the branch where my scion is grafted… But right after flowering when leaves come out, you have a chance of energy/sap making its way to the end of the branch where the scion is (from water+nutrients going up the tree from the roots and leaves provides energy going down the tree to the roots vs flowering where energy is only going up from the roots).

Just wanted confirmation on that theory if it makes sense or maybe it doesn’t make a difference and just try to graft earlier at bud swell.

Thanks,
Ari

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Ari,
In Kansas we have a few problems with grafting which are 1) wait to long to graft it gets hot and the graft gets flooded with sap 2) don’t wait long enough and its to cold and the sap is not flowing 3) temperature fluctuates between situation #1 and #2 which keeps you guessing. That makes your question hard to answer but the ideal world answer is once temperatures reach and stay around 70 degrees is perfect and the leaves are one quarter to half way developed. In a place like California I would expect grafts would take at close to 100% of the time. The weather is very even there is my understanding. In Kansas we go to 20 degrees for a week back to 85 degrees then back and forth a few more times. Some things like plum, apple,pear graft easily here whereas cherries, peaches, and apricots are harder. The bloom stage to me is just an indicator of sap flow in the plant and the fact its waking up. The plant sends nectar to those blooms at great expense to attract insects so before or after is better. When you top work a tree its grafts grow like crazy because you cut off a great deal of the tree so more sap is available for your graft and they grow like crazy. That being said I’ve grafted things dormant some years if our weather gets warm and stays there and I’m grafting plums, apples, and pears. With peaches warm constant temps of 70 and half leaves is my opinion of the perfect time. Grafting success also depends on the tree your grafting to and the scion your grafting to that rootstock tree. If you use a rootstock meant for grafting your odds go way up which for apples would be mm111 or pears ohxf333 as examples. Some scions are easier to graft than others. So if someone says their graft success is 100% that may mean they have perfect weather, the right rootstock and scion wood. In my area with our weather, animals, using wild genetically different rootstocks Stephen Hayes might have a problem getting 80% field graft success some years. Good luck I hope some of that helps.

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Thanks Clark, I have same question too. I am glad Ari asked. Temperature in spring here goes up and down a lot, Will day time temperature in 50s a good day to graft plum/pluot/pears? Any grafting method specifically works better in this temperature? how many days of the temperature have to last in order to get good result?

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I’m kinda curious as to how grafts perform if a cold snap comes through. Say I graft when there is 3 straight days of 70 degree temp but a front moves through and we have 3 nights that are near freezing. Does the cold nights have a big impact on graft sucess?

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If you have a couple warm days after grafting they will usually ride through the cold OK. They will take more slowly though. The time when they will really be bad is if they don’t get those couple of days of decent weather - either too cold or too hot for those first two days and you will probably get nothing.

That said, in my climate I don’t really think about grafting this early as I have had too many cold spells come through. If its really cold for a long time after the couple warm days you can have problems. I always have had pears work except one year I grafted in an early heat wave, and nearly all of the grafts failed due to the multiple week cold stretch afterwards.

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IL847,
My opinion on grafting methods are every method has a purpose but its not related to weather. Clefts and bark grafts I use when top working, whips or saddle grafts I use when grafting small rootstocks, side grafts I use when I need a branch and there’s not one etc. I think Scott did a better job than I could have answering the question you had on temperature in relationship to grafting success.

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Speedster,
Scott said it well in his response on temperature. I’ve been caught before grafting to early. If its a mulberry, stone fruit etc don’t graft it until its pushing leaves and the forecast is warm but not hot. Apples and pears are more forgiving. I grafted a ton of mulberries dormant one year and thought the warm up was close enough but needless to say I will never do it again. I lost every mulberry graft that year. It turned cold instead of warm that year.

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