Ok lets admit it, grafting may be easy, but learning to graft is hard

Wednesday night I attend the grafting workshop hosted by Rutgers University. For $65 I received a 3 hour lecture a grafting knife and ended up turning several yards of wood into 3 M7 and scions (Red and Yellow Delicious and Northern Spy). The lecture part was as you might expect boring and nothing that has not been posted hear and all over the internet. But the hands on portion really teaches you that you cant just learn everything on the internet or reading books. My take away from the whole class is knife handling, not the type of graft is most important. For all you first time grafters like me or just want to improve your technique. I think you should consider taking a grafting class from your local extension if you can not learn from someone first hand and watch and rewatch @SkillCult Grafting Video #7


That’s a pricey grafting class. The one in Philly is $35. Taught by somebody from Cummins nursery. You get to graft and take home 2 trees. My grafts took but the seedlings died couple of months later.

I though so too but I could not find anything else in my area. We where supposed to only get 2 root stocks but there where plenty left over and I grafted a 3rd before time ran out. Still I am glad to have had the hands on.

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Look at the bright side, you would have paid more than $65 to order 3 trees from Stark Bros.
And, you would definitely have paid more than $65 for a one-day vacation to anywhere.
So, if you enjoyed it and your trees live, it was worth the price.

Personally, I prefer free lessons, or the ones on YouTube by Stephen Hayes or Skillcult.


Well, how good is that knife? Doesn’t sound to me like you gave them too much of a premium if you like the knife.


So this is the knife A.M.Leonard that came with the class. While it does not appear to be fancy it seems to be good quality.


They didn’t make too much off of you. I always figure outfits that put on things like that deserve a little extra for trying anyhow!


I teach my clients a simple splice graft in 5 minutes and all succeed their first season- the percentage may not be 90% or above but their satisfaction is total.


The UK grafting seminar I took earlier this month was free, just cost me gas money to get there, about a 80mi round trip. Can’t beat that price! Plus, I got 3 apples grafted, and they’re just now sprouting. I’m about to pot up a Suncrisp, Goldrush and Stayman, so if they survive the summer, even a bigger bonus.

I agree that it looks easier than to actually do a whip and tongue graft. Doing that second cut towards you is a bit scary. I ended up using Applenut’s suggestion of putting a CD between me and the knife. I need to get a good knife, the one I used was a box cutter, too much play. Thankfully my ham-handed attempt at grafting seemed to have worked.

Edit: Actually it did cost a $10 entry fee, but still, for 3 new trees, lots of literature, expert commentary, lunch, and a pruning demonstration, still a great deal!


I always make a joke of knife handling when I teach grafting that I can’t stand the sight of blood. Then I show them the 2 inch cut on my thumb with 6 stitches thru the nail I did when I was 10 years old. I still have a split nail. I demonstrate how to cut a bud off and then hand them the knife and a scion. Most people don’t watch carefully so I point out they will likely cut themselves, stop them and show them again how to hold the knife such that if it slips you don’t cut yourself, I repeat until they do it safely. The class I teach is $35 for two hours and I sell tape and knives for $5 each. I also sell a budded persimmon root stock for $10. Last time I taught it I got $100 for 9 students and the farm got the rest. I don’t do it for the money, I do it to meet people. I see many of the students at the next year’s January Urban Harvest fruit tree sale I volunteer at. Well if you are in Houston next Saturday April 7 at 9am stop by: https://txrxlabs.org/classes/334/urban-homesteading-tree-grafting/ Here is the course outline: https://mrtexasgrafting.weebly.com/ I demo tee budding and chip budding and let the students try the same. I also offer to teach/demo for free for anyone willing to come to my house during April and September grafting season. Have had two guys come this spring and another one on Monday.

I prefer florist knives with thinner blades.

I watched the video, good one! I do something similar. He also reminded me why I don’t like cleft of whip/tongue grafts as it is difficult to place the knife such that a slip doesn’t result in a bloody finger. Instead I do a bark graft, chip bud or tee bud as I have the knife safety down for those.


Around here we have a lot of Alder and Ash trees…oak and such, too, but they are harder wood. It’s easy to find an Alder tree with accessible branches, and practice field grafting all day long. It’s a good way to get a feel for it, to make sure you have all the right tools and supplies with you, and to try some experiments. Cut off a little branch and graft it back on.
A SHARP knife is best.


Here’s a thing (flap-type, halfway down the page) that I am going to try today…not just on persimmons. Any thoughts?


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@lordkiwi Good day, I live quite close to the farms at Rutgers. Can you post the link for where they post information about grafting classes? Thank you

sure sadly its once a year. Calendar of Events | Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
But on the bright side they offer plenty of other classes. Did you buy any materials you plan to graft this year?

I grew up down the road from cook csmpus… wish I knew about the grafting course!!!

I learned grafting at one of the classes offered by Raintree Nursery a couple of years ago. I believe they charged $15. They allowed me to take home 4 rootstocks and 4 pieces of scionwood. Can’t beat that price. I received excellent individualized attention and learned a lot. I think my success rate in that class was 100% and those trees have grown a lot.

The hardest aspect of grafting is the back cut: the tongue in W/T or the cut towards the non-dominant hand in the cleft. A slip and you will be injured, probably pretty badly too.

One can avoid the whole injury element by doing just whip grafts which obviously work very well as many others have stated. Alternatively just investing in a cheap pair of cut proof gloves (Under $10 at Amazon) lets you use the knife with confidence. It is just cheap insurance.


@lordkiwi I don’t plan to make any grafts until I get some hands on training first. Only plans for this season are building a strawberry raised garden, and tending to a recently planted bare root Redhaven peach.


The hardest thing to learn about grafting is that it requires a certain amount
of manual dexterity. You can’t be a thumbs akimbo. You’re performing tree
surgery, and it requires a definite skill.

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So everyone learns differently, and having sat through zillions of hours of classes for all my education, and having taught all my children until college, I’ve seen that most people just have to ‘do it’ to see what’s up. Guaranteed, you won’t learn all you need in any class - because you don’t know what you don’t know until you try to do it on your own. Then you have assessed your ignorance and will get a lot more out of the class. Unfortunately, there are no classes locally.

Several years ago my son asked me to prune his fruit trees for him. I gathered the trimmings, brought them home and all that winter went out and used them to practice grafting dif sizes and dif grafts. I saw what I didn’t know, watched more videos, and did some more. That spring I had a very high success rate. Fortunately, in all my clumsiness, I never hurt myself, but, in the process I saw the need to make a collar to go around the rootstock so I wouldn’t cut myself when doing a cleft graft which I recommend folks do.


"but, in the process I saw the need to make a collar to go around the rootstock so I wouldn’t cut myself when doing a cleft graft which I recommend folks do."
This is a very smart thing to do, possibly even mandatory.
Another option: using these gloves on your non-dominant hand will let you make back cuts (tongue) or clefts with zero fear.