My first chip bud grafting and lessons in biting off too much:

First I say what I say each time I post, I love you guys and gals and this forum helps me with my orchard every day!

Today my germ plasm from Davis arrived (10 Apricots) for my Central New York Apricot long shot project.

I’m used to doing all my grafts with dormant scions in April and May. I’ve only ever done two chip bud grafts on apples a few years ago. One worked one did not. Apricots are a whole other beast.

I had rootstocks growing in 2 gallon pots ready for this purpose but when I went to do I was horrified to find that cutting the chips in apricot wood felt totally different from what I remember from apple wood. The layers to cut through were tougher, in some cases downright hard. Made me wonder if my knife was dull. In some cases the inner wood just fell away from the cambium and I felt like I either had a solid sheet of cambium or that I was leaving it all behind (that probably didn’t make much sense).

Here are my questions and some photos:
Can you get chips to unite with only 25% of the chip cambium aligned? Is it forgiving?
Should I have wrapped the petiole into the parafilm wrap? (I did it on some but not others when I could make doubles or triple attempts)
When the chip disintegrates into two pieces (outer with bud and inner (I assume part xylem) does the cambium come with me in that chip. I understand that’s such a confusing question.

I fear I’ll probably only get 10-20% success

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Let me try here, assuming I understand the questions.

Chips can be placed on fairly tough and hard wood. I suspect (not the same as know) that the older the wood you are placing the chip on the more the final growth from that chip will have a “perched” quality. Your wood is pretty well along, but it should work.

My first thought at “25 % cambium contact” was to think it’s a little doubtful, but actually I suspect that it would work fairly well. More is always better, of course, but it’s remarkable how much trees can overcome.

As for wrapping the bud with parafilm it isn’t an issue. Go ahead and cover it with a wrap or three.

I’m not sure what you meant about the chip disintegrating, but I think you mean that the little woody part under the bud comes away. If so, that’s actually a good thing, as that wood is just in the way.

Good luck! As you say, apricots are a whole other beast (at least for me).


if only done a few apricot grafts. So I’m no expert on that. I think if done a few hundred chip buds on other fruit though (mostly apple) i should reach 1k when I’m finished grafting this year.

The woody part of the chip coming off the cambium/bark part. It’s not that bad. If your stock’s bark is slipping id likely do a T-bud when the wood in the chip bud comes off.

When the chip falls apart in the wood part and the bark part. The cambium is usually on both. This is also what T-budding relies on.

Chip buds in apples are quite forgiving. I’m not sure on apricots though.
When in doubt about cambium alignment, i slightly offset it. Put in the chip slightly crooked. So i know i have 2 places where cambium intersects.

I really like smaller knifes with a thin blade for chip budding. Opinel nr 5 is my current favorite. If even thinned out the blade, i think roughly 20-30 % thinner now. Also having it properly sharpend helps a lot. Beviled on the side thats touching the chip. And flat on the side thats touching the stick your cutting the chip from.
Somtimes the tiniest bevil on the flat side helps to. Just a few strokes edge trailing on a fine stone at a really low angle (almost flat) is enough.

Locking your thumbs is another important thing. And having your thumb close to the chip your cutting gives you more control. So does slightly pulling the knife sideways when cutting the chip downwards.

On the bottom part of the chip you can rock the knife sideways a few times to safely cut into the woody part of the scion.

When cutting the top part of the chip you cut all the way down till you meet the bottom cut you already did. And than go 2-5 mm further in the same “flat plane” This gives you a little “spring action” that holds the chip in place while wrapping. (see especially the 2e photo)

These are photo’s of dormant chip buds. But your doing summer chip budding. If done that to.

I like to wrap the top part of the chip bud first. 3-7 passes of parafilm, above the bud.

Than i wrap the bottom part, again 3-7 wraps. (2/3 is enough, but sometimes the chip is not touching the stock, and more wraps will pull/bend them together because of the increased pressure)

And when wrapping the bottom part i end by going 1-2 times over the bud.
When summer chip budding i go over the bud above the petiole (1-2 times) But i wrap around the petiole and the petiole base.

When the chip heals, the rootstock sends up hormones to the chip bud which make it eject the petiole. And thus gives you an easy sign if it took or not. For this to work the petiole has to be able to fall off.

Are you planning on forcing the chips when they eject the petiole? or will you leave them till after next dormant season?

The bottom photo in your post is wrapped the best imo. Although you could have left a mm more space below the petiole. And you could have wrapped over the bud above the petiole. I don’t think it matters that much though.

as a last tip. Try to cut matching woody pieces in the chip and the receiving slot. If the wood that’s showing is roughly the same, the cambium is matching. Especially if chipping on older stock. The thickness difference in bark can be quite substantial, also due to the angle your cutting trough the bark to make the receiving slot.

did you do all your chip budding for the year? or still have some scion buds left?

My posted pictures where from when i just learned to chip bud. (i think 20-30 chip buds in)
I could probably make some better ones tomorrow or the day after. Also showing the inner part of the chip and receiving slot (with cambium etc)


If you got Davis to send you material, you’re already ahead of me.


Wow, those are some good sized chips oscar. They must be like the definition of chips in England, rather than the US :wink:


Easier to have scion and rootstock same diameter.


Thanks so much for that amazing tutorial and advice.
I’m not going to force the buds, I’m going to see who takes and who doesn’t (I did some in duplicate and some in triplicate) and then cut the winners above the chip next year.
I have tons of scion left so I was going to head over to my old orchard with a few developed trees and attempt some “backups” to save the material so I can at least have a second bite at the apple next year.
I usually do that with all my dormant scion cherry and apricot grafts too because they have been traditionally the hardest for me to rely on successfully taking.

The rootstock and scion were the same diameter on only 3 of 10 individual varieties which didn’t bode well for success.
Like Oscar said, I sometimes did them purposely “askew” to rely on at least some cambium cross over.
If I get 1/2 successfully on their own rootstocks I’ll be happy for a first time attempt.

yea, i figure the longer it is, the more cambium points are touching. Up to a point though. Since it also cost the stock more resources to heal. However unless you go for a foot + i don’t think the stock will run out of resources that fast.

It is on my experiments to do list, to just split 2 long scions trough the middle lengthwise. And see if i can graft them together over the whole length.

back to chips.
Not all my chip buds are that long. I like the longer ones though. Since i also find them easier to wrap. So i cut long ones if the scion internodes are long. And short ones if the scion internodes are short.

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i often chip on different diameter. I did some summer chip budding on i think 3-4 year old plum rootstock with peach and nectarine buds. The stock was i think 4-5 times the diameter of the scion. Chip buds went fine. You could see a whole line of bark around the chip showing though. If you looked at it while wrapping you’d think the cambium was not aligned.

The thicker stock has thicker bark though. And your also cutting into the bark at an angle. Thus it even looks thicker. I’ll try and make/post some photo’s today or tomorrow.

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I read that if the chip takes the petiole will fall naturally off the chip. Today I have one petiole the slightest of pulls and it separated immediately with a clean green separation.
I touched a second one lightly and it fell off with even less effort.
Is this a good sign? I’m think it’s only been 6 days, it’s too soon for a successful take???
Do petioles sometimes just fall off no matter what’s going on with the graft?


grafts can heal really fast if temperatures are good. Especially things like apples.

6 days is fast but not impossibly fast.

What your describing of the petiole almost “popping” off when touched. Is exactly what i consider a graft that took. Normally at that point I’d force it by pruning above the chip bud graft. (or scoring it if i want to keep the part above the chip)

When in doubt you can always wait a week before pruning/forcing. Or lightly scrape the bark on the chip bud to see if it’s green beneath if you’re not sure it’s alive.

If there is not much branch length above the chip, just braking of the growing tip of shoots above it can also be enough to make the chip bud grow.

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Two more petioles fell off today. Should I peel off some parafilm and check one of them or give it a week.
Our weather for the last week where they would have been callusing has been 85 degree highs and 65 lows at night.
Thanks so much for your help with this, I really appreciate your advice!

in my experience peeling off parafilm can at best be neutral. And at worst damage stuff. I would never recommend peeling it off. Unless for experimental/curiosity reasons. But be aware your taking a risk/sacrificing for the experiment than.

Could you show us a picture of one of the grafts including the rootstock? (the whole plant)

When the petioles fall of, and if it’s early enough in the year. I usually force the graft. Either by pruning just above it. Or by scoring a line in the bark above the graft. (if i want to keep the branch above the graft, like when using multiple chip buds on the same rootstock.)

This usualy forces the graft to start to grow. The only risk you can run, is if the graft is far from healing (little chance if petioles are falling off) and there is no (latent) bud on the rootstock need the graft. That the tip dries in.

If this is something you fear or your not sure the graft fully healed. I’d prune back to 1 rootstock bud above the chip bud. Even if this is a latent bud. This will keep sapflow passing the graft. And if this bud starts to leaf out i rub it off. And still force the graft to wake up.

However just giving it another week also doesn’t hurt.

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Here are some photos of two where petioles have fallen off.
Some petioles are still hard fast connected but more are falling off:

I’d love to force the grafts. There’s plenty of time in the season. So I feel like cutting them next week, 2 weeks from the grafting date.



you could already pinch the tops out of the growing shoots above. Stops the rootstock from wasting resources on stuff you’ll prune off anyway.

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I did exactly that and now I’m waiting until the week 2 mark, Wednesday to see if I’m brave enough to cut the rootstock to the chip.