Need grafting advice (So my beloved ER can live on, and on, and...)

So I’ve never grafted anything, never got the “bug”. Always only bought and planted already grafted trees.

But as I drink my morning coffee and eat my toast with a little Early Richmond cherry jam on it, I’m sort of concerned that my old ER tree might surprise me one day and up and die. It’s had some BC issues for awhile and has been in the ground since '95.

There is just something about the jam this cherry makes that makes me think I would regret not having one around (even though my wife has said ever since the CJ’s came into production that I need to cut down the ER…)

Anyway I suppose I could source another bare root ER, but I’m getting sentimental about this old girl, so I’d like to see if I can get a successful graft so she can carry on for many more years.

I figured I could buy some rootstock, maybe 5-10 and try to do whip grafts, and maybe one or two would take.

If I understand it right, most places recommend Mahaleb. Not sure if any of the more dwarfing rootstocks used on sweets would actually be compatible with a tart.

I was thinking about just ordering in the rootstock and trying my hand at it in the spring, but thought I’d prattle on here first just in case anyone had a better course of action to make it happen.

So here are my questions:

Since it’s early December, should I wait to collect some scion wood in say late March or early April, and try to get rootstock ordered in around then? One thing that had me wondering is that I read on the University of Minnesota site where they said “Scions cut in November grow best in Minnesota”

Maybe I could go get some now and refrigerate just in case…

Any tips for a first time grafter? Or maybe kind of a step-by-step of what you would do if it were you.


If fully dormant (not sure what your weather is like), you should be ok harvest scions now. I usually wait til after New Years in my area, but I doubt it will matter if they are kept from drying out (in a tight ziploc bag in the fridge).

Order rootstock sooner than later, places sell out! Don’t forget a some sort of sealant (grafting wax, tape, etc), too, if you want to use them.

If you will have plenty of scion wood, a good way to practice is to take some branches from the tree and graft them together. You only need a little bit to practice with. Just keep at it until you get good at creating a tight fit.

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Thank you for the info. I’m certain my ER is dormant now, so it sounds like I’m safe to grab some wood and do the ziplock bag thing now, just to be on the safe side.

I’ve kinda been wondering about getting one of those grafting tools off eBay, they’re cheap but I think I should be able to do with a knife anyway.

Thanks again!

I’ve never used a grafting tool, just a very sharp knife. Single bevel is ideal for the best, accurate, cutting. Some people use box cutters and exacto knives, too.

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@IowaJer, I use a box cutter and really like it.

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I use those sometimes and they can work really well. I’ve had really high success rates with them. They really shine with pencil sized scion wood. Anything smaller or larger doesn’t work nearly as well.

That being said, I still use a cleft graft more than any single graft. They work great for nearly everything. Especially when there is a difference in diameter between the scion and understock. And they heal really well.


I’m with ampersand regarding the knife - I use Opinel folding knives and bevel on the right hand side for whip and tongue since I am right handed - and with speedster1 on the cleft graft. The four trees started out back I made with cleft grafts.
A little bell ringing in the back of my mind tells me you should look up grafting cherries. There is a particular type of graft and season that seems to work best with cherries, which I have forgotten (chip bud? awesome technique!) I wanted only one tart cherry in the yard (North Star, which pleases me well.)

BTW, tart cherries are self fertile and come pretty much true to seed, as I understand it. You might try planting seed from your tree as a back up. All tart cherries are semi-dwarf, as a species.

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I’ve found that cherries graft easily. Just like plums. Only thing easier to graft is pear and apple. Peaches and nectarines are what killed me last year. Those I found to be very difficult to graft. They need heat. They are definitely better suited for summer budding.

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I agree I’ve found sour cherries such as Montmorency very easy to graft but sweet cherries are something different. Apricots are a real pain like peaches!
ER should be easy to graft but I’m curious how big you want your tree to get? I would hold off until Jan or Feb to harvest scion wood. I’m one state away and it’s usually cold then. You might grab a little wood now in case February turns into shorts weather like last year. You want the wood totally dormant which for me means a -10 F day is great. My trees still have leaves hanging on them. I will get my scions in early Feb… You might like this sweet cherry grafting thread Sweet cherry grafts. Sour cherries are much easier but the concept is similar.

I’ve never grafted sour cherries.

My efforts at grafting sweet cherries have been an almost total failure so far.

I did get one Ulster chip bud to take on my Royal Rainier/ Colt.

Good luck.

This YouTuber is the pro sweet cherry grafter. He sometimes talks himself and his crew up like they are the going concern in WA on grafting cherries.

He mostly does wedge grafts, but it seems like he mostly does variety changes on established trees. But maybe he has a budding video in there somewhere.

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I’m surprised to hear if you guys having trouble grafting sweets. Mine have taken as easily as anything else. I also had a lot of success with apricot last year. I grafted Robada and Orangered to several of my plum trees with all takes. I even grafted Orange red to my Nadia and it grew well. In anoyher thread I ranked what I felt was easiest to most difficult. Can’t remember what I wrote then but after this full season I’d rank from easiest to hardest, pear, apple, plum/pluot, cherry, apricot, peach/nect.

Pear is crazy easy. As long as the cut surfaces are making contact they seem to take.

Well I’ve just got in from sitting in a tree stand…, not sure about the fruit trees but I think I’m pretty much dormant!!!

I ordered a roll of parafilm 1/2" x 90’ for $2.80 and about that S&H. With this, I assume I don’t need the wax then.

On the size Clark, I would like smaller but am unsure what my options are. Some of the things that look good on sweets don’t look like they’re for tarts.

I was intrigued by MXM60 (or what DWN calls Newroot-1) as it seems to be a hybrid as it’s described like this:

More productive than Mazzard and similar in vigor, MXM 60 is compatible with both sweet and tart cherry varieties. A hybrid of Mazzard and Mahaleb, it is compatible with a wide range of soils. MXM 60 is cold hardy, drought tolerant and has excellent anchorage. It has moderate resistance to phytophthora and crown gall and has shown some resistance to bacterial canker.

Only thing is I have zero idea where to get it, or if it’s even available…

I tried the link you put up Levers101 but it was a car thing it looked like.

Here is the grafting playlist. grafting stuff:

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You might look at what AC has Search Results — Adams County Nursery
You can order the rootstocks you want here
You can see an analysis of several rootstocks here
A little information on Early Richmond tart cherry for those wondering why it’s so special

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IowaJer I sent you a message. I can probably help you out with a couple of options.

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Most of the things I watched on this had like smaller stuff being grafted onto larger branches, but if this method works for you even when doing small root stock maybe I’ll give that a shot too. I’m thinking about getting maybe 5 root stocks just in hopes one will work out.[quote=“NuttingBumpus, post:7, topic:8052”]
You might try planting seed from your tree as a back up.

With as big a tree as this ER is, and the sheer numbers of cherries it has produced over the years, I often wondered why a seed on the ground hasn’t ever produced a seedling. I mean, when kids go over there to pick they eat and spit, the birds too. There is a huge amount of seeds. I assume some get stepped on and sunk into the soil etc., but nothing stray ever pops up. I wonder if I need to begin the stratification thing like right away, just take a handful of pits and put them in the refrigerator.

Clark, I went out to that site and the place that shows MXM 60 is for commercial growers only. (maybe I should do like you suggested last year and try to graft onto a CJ sucker…

Got your message and PMed you back. Thanks!

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I bet CJ would make a great rootstock. We have plenty of the suckers and they are free.

I try to keep the ground around my trees clear of turf - especially the cherry - to the drip line. Each year new English Morello seedlings came up under that sour cherry. They didn’t compete well in the grass. Looked up Early Richmond to confirm it was sour, as I do not know about it otherwise, and wondered about seedlings.

My grafting experience has only involved apples so far, so feel unable to offer help on that score.

BTW, North Star ripens with ER, ten days before Montmorency. Mine came from Georgia, if memory serves (forgetting nursery name,) and its first little crop last season was pink within and bright with flavor, recalling its Morello parent, but ripening about 21 days before Morello.

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