Latent Energy in Scion Wood

How common is for scions to bud out based on the energy still left in the scion after grafting? I am seeing a fair amount of activity on my grafts, but I was really really disappointed in my grafting this year and am not convinced any of them have actually taken yet. Just some buds starting to pop and leaf out a bit.

When can I be somewhat assured of a take on the grafts?

You will know for sure if they took typically in 6 weeks. By the 6th week they turn brown typically or start to shoot out a lot of vigorous new growth. There are exceptions such as when they have a leaf 2 months later so they have not took or failed so at that point it’s anyone’s guess. Typically those grafts are partially incompatible but that does not mean they won’t work.

Last year I did a whip and tongue that seemed to take and grew about 2-3" and then just stopped and died. This year I thought I would do better on my w&T, but they were almost worse. Again, it was the first to bud out.

I grafted 10 of the 22 rootstocks I bought and then gave the rest away because I was so frustrated and disappointed with the process. Nothing was cutting well, despite new tools and knives. Sizes were miserable matches, and I just had no room to work. Clefts were even going horribly. I should have just put it away for a week, but oh well.

I grafted on April 23rd, let them sit in the fridge for a few weeks, and then potted them. They’ve been in dirt for 2 weeks now. So you think July 1st before there is a good basis for if they took?

In my opinion that sounds about right. What scion did you graft on what rootstock? Do you have a picture? Sometimes they will wilt and still come out of it.

I haven’t been taking pictures daily (sometimes twice) since they hit the pots. Nope. That wouldn’t be me. Not obsessing at all on this end. Don’t know what you’re talking about.

All the RS are G41s and several varieties:

Early New Yorker
Golden Delicious Smoothie
Red Delicious
Black Willow Twig
Honey Crisp
Unknown Legacy Tree

I’ll get some pictures off the phone to upload.

G41 rootstock should work good with those apple scions you mentioned. Sounds like they should do ok.

Let’s not underestimate the clown with the grafting knife though. He’s been known to not hit the broad side of a barn with a tank. From the inside of the barn.

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Grafts look promising. The leaves are pretty big already. If a graft is going to fail they are not overly vigorous. It’s to early to say for sure.

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SuperG, I don’t assume they are a take until they grow a couple inches. then I am hopeful. Then grow a couple more and I start to pronounce success.

I have developed a few rules that are not so mainstream, based on my previous success/fails. #1 is speed. I"ll take a less good match in order to get it together and wrapped… #2 Is tight. I push my W&T and clefts together and even split the wood further then cut to get a tight fit. I commonly have tabs sticking of the outside because I pushed it too far together. #3 I pick one side to line up as much as possible and ignore the other side. (I wrap with parafilm and rubber band)

If grafting to rootstocks, I plant the rootstocks when they arrive and graft when the buds begin to open. same timing on existing tree. I have grafted when leaves are fully out and it was fine.

Field grafting is harder then bench, but I get the best angle on my work and get going. One year I marked ratings of how good I thought each graft was. I had two 2 I predicted would fail, but they took and there was no difference in vigor.

Couple other thoughts Practice this summer with randomly clipped branches from any tree. Maybe you should have your knife professionally sharpened. Some people use a razorblade knife.


The more I look at them and the more I think about how bad the cuts were the more I’m convinced I’ll be t-budding things in the fall again. The knife was a brand new Opinel #6 which I had heard a lot of raving about but cut no better (possibly worse) than the utility knife I used last year. Cuts were cupped and twisted so trying to mate two surfaces cleanly was a pipe dream at best.

I really don’t understand how some people get these beautiful long perfectly flat cuts. I get years of experience weighs in to some extent and sharp tools as well. Both the Opinel and the Readi-Cut could dismember one of my fingers in a swipe, but they don’t seem to want to cut scions or RS for bubkis.

Anyhow, once I realize the whip & tongues were going to be as bad as last year I decided I’d go to cleft grafts. Despite them not being all that pretty to look at, people say they are near fool proof and I needed some success. Those went even worse than the W&T. I couldn’t get surfaces to mate, there were massive air gaps and scooped cuts preventing mating of the surfaces. If I did long thin wedges to accommodate the RS split, the cuts would scoop and twist leaving air gaps no matter how hard I would squeeze. If I tried short fat wedges, the RS wasn’t flexible enough to mate without splitting the RS further open leaving a massive air gap.

I’ve had success cutting limbs for slipping T-buds, but my scion sources for t-budding are always so small that they get ejected from the cuts by the sap rushing to heal the wounds.

Some people enjoy the art of stumbling into success over the course of years. I’m apparently not that person. By the time I had gotten through 10 of them this season I was ready to toss it all in the garbage and move on with my life. When I see buds starting to pop through paraffin I star building this false hope that something actually worked only to be disappointed come mid-summer.

I foolishly spent over half the day today top working this vintage tree I have access to. I know it’s awful late in the season, but I had the remnants of the scions I got this spring and the old tree needed some water sprout thinning anyhow so I practiced some omega grafts and some cleft grafts. If I ever start feeling too good about myself, I can always go grafting.

Apples and pears are forgiving wood to graft so they are very good for people learning to graft. No ones first grafts are perfect and sometimes it takes a year or two to get the hang of things. I would not right those grafts off just yet they could take off anytime now it’s just to early to say one way or the other.

I sometimes lose grafts that have joined the tree because leaf hoppers suck the life out of them. If you are in the humid region you have to keep an eye out for sucking insects because grafts will be the most tender growth on the tree, meaning they are carrying a bulls eye target for sap sucking insects.



I’ll watch for that, but most of my t-budding has been in fall and new growth doesn’t come until spring. The buds are long dead by then. The ones that took (3 out of…maybe 2 dozen?) have each grown about 6" or so this year.

I didn’t study the thread closely. Because of the timing of comments I assumed they were spring grafts. Maybe you should start doing your grafting then- with practice you will reach 90% survival with apples.

This year I though my grafts might be toast because I did the bulk of my apple grafting preceding a 17 degree freeze and continuing cool weather, but the grafts are doing fine.

Super, I do not know how the other people cut their wood. I cut the scions on the folding table which I carry with me or on a wooden plank. I put the twig on the plank so it lays firmly. Then I position the blade at the sharp angle and cut the twig as I would cut the stick of bread or a sausage. The blade is straight it pushes firmly into the wooden plank, so the cuts are straight too.
Your scions started to show the buds it is a good sign…

I am a new grafter, too. This is my 2nd year. Last year I started with Opinel amd switch to Victorinox mid way because Of the same problem you had.

I only did bark and cleft grafts. This year I did 99% cleft as most of my scionwood and the branches I grafted on were a pencil thick or less. No stump grafting so I abandon bark graft.

Victorinox cut a straight line a lot better. I really don’t know the right term to describe the cut but it is better. Also, there will be a gap, sometimes, with cleft graft. That is when you wrap it very tight forcing contact between scionwood and the branch you graft on.

I bought a Victorinox Swiss graft budding knife. You can buy a single blade victorinox. Experienced grafters could probably use a machete and still be successful,. Not me :grin:


Yeah, sorry about that. My bench grafts were done April 23rd and sat in a fridge for 3 weeks. They’ve been in dirt since then. I had hoped that was early enough to graft them and let them callous slowly in the fridge.

I’ll need to try the cut against wood next year. All the videos tend to
show people just whacking away in the air so that’s what I’ve been
trying. I think I’m likely rotating both the stick and knife as I cut

I may take my Opinel to somebody to have them put a single edge on it.

I would have never thought to use an Opinel knife for grafting. Nothing about them is what I think of being helpful for grafting. As $10 knives go I suppose it is a pretty good one,… I use the Victorianox as shown by mamuang above. I mainly use the straight blade, and having it sharpened by a professional makes it work quite nicely. Factory edge on any knife is just so-so. IN addition to sharpness the irregular cuts you describe sound like they were cut too slow.

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I have both the Opinel #6 and the Victorinox grafting knife. Neither is perfect. The Opinel can be sharpened to straight razor sharpness. At least the carbon steel one can. It is a dual bevel knife. Sharp as can be and can do a pretty good job cutting scions. The victorinox is a single bevel blade and I can get it about 90% as sharp as the Opinel. Despite its single bevel even it cuts a slight curve into the scion. Bottom line is they are both acceptable for grafting and grafting is forgiving enough that as long as the blade is sharp and you have reasonable form you will be fine.

If you really insist on perfectly straight cuts get a pair of those multi-cutters that have a razor blade anvil style pruning blade. Alan and many others use them with great success. They can cut a perfect V notch in scions for cleft grafting.