Grafting strategies - Scion placement

What should I be considering when I place scions onto an existing tree?

I have a Gala apple and a Belle of Georgia peach that I don’t really like that much and was considering putting all my respective scions on them. But then I started wondering if that was a bad idea. Should I be considering things like ripening time and trying to group them that way? (early, mid, late?). I was thinking specifically about the peaches which I net for protection from birds. Currently I move the nets around as things ripen, but I’d either have to get more nets and deal with them on the trees a lot longer or rethink my plan.

Any thoughts on scion placement?

I should have added a question about the location on the tree too. Is the goal to get the scion as close to the main trunk/center of the tree as possible?

It’s important to know where you want the buds of the scion to be facing, since those buds will become branches. So line everything up before you make your cuts.

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How large is the tree now, and how heavily branched is it? Could you post a picture?

Mark -

I don’t have a picture of either tree on me, and I only get to my orchard on the weekends, so the photo will have to wait.

But…I did some pretty heaving pruning on both last summer, (this was before I considered grafting,and I was just trying to limit the harvest size), and both trees are pretty short (chest high and below) and both probably have a 5 ft or so diameter.

In the next message, I’ll post photo of a similar sized tree, although the one in the photo has a lot more new growth on it than my 2 grafting candidates do. The grafting trees have a lot less of tho thin vertical branches than this one does.

It sounds like you have a fairly young tree, or one on a pretty dwarfing root.

I try to graft as close to the trunk as is practical, but several inches from it- and far enough that I have room for a rework if necessary, perhaps 8" or so. I tend to graft where ever I can find a suitable branch, and on my apple and pear both they all do pretty well. A lower graft may be repressed by shade or by the seep of auxin from higher branches, but it also has a good claim on nutrient flow from its lower position. In a young tree with lots of vigor they should all do well.

As my trees have gotten older I’ve started frameworking a little, as I don’t want to remove any of the large, established scaffold branches (although maybe I should- but it’s a frankentree and not too amenable to wholesale changes without disrupting several varieties). Frameworking lets me stick something on smaller secondary branches. I might only ever get half a dozen or so apples off of that branch, but I enjoy the variety. And it lets me graft to small wood, which is quick, easy, and fast to heal. In that case I might get closer to the main branch- 2" being a bit too close, 4" being far enough.

Hope that helps- I’ll interested in hearing different thoughts from some of the more experienced here.


I’m not a huge fan of belle of Georgia either. It’s ok but I like almost any white peach more.

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Re: Belle of GA.

It was one of the first peaches I got and I only got it because it was white and I wanted variety. A few years later I read something on Gardenweb (probably from someone who is now on this forum!) who was very unimpressed with it and said the newer versions of white peaches were far superior. That got me to think critically about the taste of the different peaches because at that time, as a new fruit grower, all the peaches were a thousand times better than the supermarket versions. For the next few years, my Belle of GAs always seemed a little weak tasting and watered down compared to the rest, so I started thinking of removing the tree or at least cutting it way back to give me a manageable amount of “just ok” peaches. I did a lot of spring and summer pruning to make a much smaller tree and get fewer peaches. Well, last summer we had a long dry spell as the Belle of GAs were ripening and it was by far the best year I’d ever had for them! I still don’t think they were as good the “peach” peaches, but they were much better than anything that tree ever produced. I don’t know if that’s Karma, or Murphy’s Law or just good old irony.

Thanks also for your other tips. I have to digest them a little further before I come back with more questions! :wink:

To Mark or anyone else - here are the trees I was thinking of “replacing” via grafting. For the long term, I plan to keep some fruiting wood on each tree, but just greatly reduce the amount.

Belle of Georgia peach: (note hat for scale):

Shiro plum (hat is about 6ft high):

Gala Apple

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I will also happily accept any pruning advice, commentary, wisdom, guidance, etc!