High bench graft question

Hi all,

Last night I bench grafted an apple on 111 and realized after that I mounted the scion ~14"-16" up the rootstock. The scion wood is about 3" long, so it looks rather awkward and high up.

Thinking about it later, should I have cut more off of the rootstock? How far back do you guys chop the rootstock off before grafting?

Also, come planting time, is it ok to bury the ~12"+ of rootstock, obviously leaving the grafting union above the soil. I am thinking of growing this tree in a pot for a year before planting. Dont know if that makes a difference or not…




I have a few high grafts…but can’t tell you if it’s a long term problem, but I think not.
Maybe somebody else has thoughts.
year growth
seems retarded, but
I doubt it makes a big difference in the long run.
In my instances,
I did it so the size of the scion matched with the root better.

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I try to avoid high grafts on m111 due to that rootstock’s tendency to have burr knots. I want only 1-3" of m111 rootstock above ground.


Biggest problem, as mentioned, is burr knots. I have a few high m111 on understock that is between thumb and wrist thick and they are getting ugly.

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How high you can graft on your rootstock depends on multiple things

-disease suseptebility of the rootstock. (MM111 for example is suseptible to getting bur knots, that get more fungal/insect damage. So you usualy graft MM111 really close to the ground)

-dwarfing. Grafting higher on dwarfing stocks usualy increases thew dwarfing effect.

-planting depth. The rootstocks that the cuttings root of easy. (tissue culture rootstocks and seedlings usualy don’t) Can be planted deeper than they where in the nursery bed.
How much deeper depends on the asphyxiation resilliance of the rootstock and your soil.
Most tree’s have different “types” of roots depending on depth and amount of air in soil (the lower you go the less air/o2). If you plant a rootstock to deep, the young roots that where accustomed to high o2 might asphyxiate and die.

MM111 is reasonable strong. So planting it deeper probably will be survivable.
I would dig quite a large planting hole, and make sure it is nice and aerated.
I would aim at having 2 inches of MM111 above ground.

edit: markalbob and smsmith beat me to it. Burr knots are the reason why you want to graft MM111 “low”


depending on how much experiance you have with rooting cuttings and grafting.

You could also prune off a piece of MM111 and your graft. And root that (inside in a box with slightly damp coco-peat like they do with fig cuttings for example)

And than place another graft on the now shorter MM111 rootstock.

MM111 roots easy. Some rootstock pruned off wood from grafting last year had begining roots from sitting in a glas of water for a week or so last year for me.

Pruning it off/rooting it. And than regrafting rootstocks. With a bit of luck will yield you 2 tree’s instead off 1 !


Interesting, Oscar. I’ve not tried with M111 (mainly because I don’t want more M111 trees), but certain other cuttings of other rootstocks have failed to root in water or soil.

I would take the graft apart and do it over, if it were me. Burying it that deep [in a pot] seems too risky, and having the graft too high later on not good either because of the burr knot problems. And since you just made the graft last night, there hasn’t been too much energy spent by the scion and rootstock on healing the union between the two.

I’d just take them apart, recut both scion and rootstock, and put them back together. Piece of cake! Cut the rootstock so the roots are about 6" below the graft, so when planted the roots will be 3 or 4 inches deep in the pot. And slice the scion again just a 1/4 to 1/2 inch up from where it was before putting it back together. You don’t necessarily need two buds on the scion–just one will work, if that is all that is remaining.

Where did you get the scion, anyway? Is it the only scion you have? Maybe the size of the piece you cut off ithe scion before grafting is smaller, and so you don’t want to use that?

Maybe you could change from a whip-and-tongue graft to a cleft graft to make it easier? :confused: :face_with_raised_eyebrow: :upside_down_face: :sweat_smile:

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I grafted e pears at 4 feet. My citrus I try to graft under 6 inches.

I ‘topped’ a M111 tree last spring by cutting the central leader at 7 feet up.
And grafted a scion to it.

It grew at least 5 feet in the summer of 2021. No stunting at all… :slight_smile:

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I’ve solved that by not buying any M111 rootstock.
I have grafted to a few “free” root suckers
and got a new start or two that way.


MM111 is also a little big for me. It does however seem verry adapted to almost all soils. And is reletivly disease resillient. So im doing a lot of interstem (MM111 with M9 or B9 interstem)

I root most hardwood cuttings in a larger flat boxs with lid. Fill 1 side up with damp coco-peat. And lay the cuttings horizontaly, with the bottom in the coco-peat and the top free in air. You can aerate the box a few min every day or few days (usualy twice a week). You won’t need to add water.
I use clear boxes that i place in a dark closet (darknes seems to favor root instead of leaf development)
Once you see roots, i pot up the cuttings.

The moisture content in the coco-peat seems to be really inportant. I get better roots in the more aerated and coarser coco-peat.
Don’t add to much water when using the dried coco-peat bricks
if you squeeze a handful you want to have just 1 or 2 drops of water coming out of it, feels to dry. But it is not, trust me. For me, this happens at adding 3-4 times the weight of the compresed coco-brick in water

In this topic i shared a picture of grape graft+cuttings i did that way.

If your going to regraft and you have enough scion-wood. I would cut off a bit of MM111 stem and the graft and try and root it. And than use the extra scion-wood to graft lower on the remaining MM111 rootstock.

And what is your percent of success with growing out these pieces of rootstock cuttings?

I’m batting zero with B9 and B118. And, for various reasons I don’t desire more MM111.

(Yes, they are a good tree, yes, they handle most soils fine. But, I don’t like waiting 4 to 7 years for fruit, and I’ve lost too many potted M111 trees in March when temps drop and the roots in the pot freeze–after the tree has broken dormancy. B118 and other roots have not caused this grief.) (Yes, I could take them in, cover in straw, or whatever…but why??? when I don’t have to with other rootstock options?)

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I had some success last year getting M111 to root after interstem grafting BUD9 and G.41 very low onto it. The cut off piece of M111 had root nodules so was fairly easy to start. Will plan on trying more of that this year…

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Thanks everyone so much, topped that bad boy and re-grafted using my remaining scionwood that had a couple of buds on it (~2").

I will let u guys know how it goes!

@oscar I cut off a piece of the 111 and wrapped it in buddy tape then buried the cutting 7/8’s of the way down. I would say it was 10 or so inches long. I have it in a peat based moist mix…well see if anything pops.

Thanks again everyone!

5 out of the 6 “leftover” pieces that i stored in a cup of water at room temp, had beggining root nodules. I was however to busy grafting first, that i forgot about them for a another week. And then they where all slimy so i trew em.
(i planned to do the coco-peat thing, thats why i had em in a cup of water)

The hardwood cuttings i did of MM111 i did before had around 60-80% sucses. I found a studie of IBA that had around 40% (37 if i remember) sucses at 3000 ish ppm IBA rooting hormone. (short water dip)

I dunno if it was my enviroment or small sample size or i just got lucky. To have higher sucses then they did.

They are harder to root than super easy things, like most grapes vigs and courrants. But not inposible hard imo.

i did however have the box with cocopeat in my sort of attic. Where it was between 18 and 25 celcius. I think that helped. I would have less confidence in rooting MM111 “outside”

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