Peach Grafting Advice

So I’ve done some serious pruning on the peach tree the last couple days. Here’s where I’m at. I’d like to graft a Gold Dust and a July Elberta onto this middle limb near the Indian Free which is already on it from a couple years ago. What would you recommend? Should I cut the limb down to the Indian Free or should I leave it about where it is and try bark grafts or side grafts or some other grafts? Will it matter? Really would like to get this right.

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Leave the Indian Free alone, it has much too little vigor to support another graft or even to be useful for peach production. You can try scoring the trunk immediately above the graft with a one inch long cut through the cambium- sometimes this may stimulate a runted out shoot. As far as future grafts, I suggest a simple splice on that vigorous 1-year shoot on the left scaffold- but it would replace the rest of the branch after a year or two, once it was big enough and pulled horizontal (I would used existing branch and string the second season- then remove the original branch from the graft outwards).

I’ve never used bark grafts and wonder if other forum members have used the method from older wood as you have tried, but done so with the reward of adequate vigor. One thing is for sure- the splice method is easier and pretty reliable if you attempt it during the right weather conditions. 3 feet of growth or more from such a graft is not unusual on the first season. If a graft doesn’t take off by the second season it is usually a failure in my experience.

Maybe Olpea can send a picture of one of his peach trees so you can see how vigorous a young peach tree needs to be to be really productive. The scaffolds should have healthy one-year shoots every few inches from near the trunk on out. First the tree- then the grafts.



I’ve had difficulty grafting or budding older peach wood, especially big older wood. I haven’t tried bark grafts though, but if I did, I think I would run into the same problem I have with trying to T-bud older wood. That is the bark doesn’t slip very well. Like Alan, I have gone to using simple splice grafts when I graft peaches.

I prefer not to bud or graft peach wood that is too big, even if it’s one year wood. I have a row of peach rootstocks which were started from seed last spring (2016). I budded a some of them last fall, but need to graft some more this spring. I have trouble grafting peaches much above 1/2" in diameter, so I went through yesterday and cut any rootstocks bigger than that down to almost ground level. They ranged anywhere from 1/2" to 1" dia. trees. Since they are just one year old trees, they will most likely throw up some water spouts so I can bud them this fall. If I don’t bud them this fall, they’ll be destroyed because by then the base starts to get too big for me to do anything with. The trees smaller than 1/2" I cut back to about 1’ tall to prepare them for grafting in other month or so.

It’s possible to graft the limb you cut off, but you probably want to do a cleft graft. @Derby42 renovated his tree that way. I’ve done a few cleft grafts on peaches, but like I say, have more success with splice grafts on smaller one year wood.


Obviously, clefts are often employed successfully- using existing scaffolds. That is standard for commercial growers when changing apple varieties and Dave Wilson has a nice video about doing it with peaches or nectarines- probably on 2-year wood. Wouldn’t be worth the time to produce peach trees this way for commercial growers but hobbyists have a different calculation going.

I gave up clefts because vigor is not as reliable as when I graft annual wood to a vigorous shoot and most of all, because it takes more time than a splice. Grafting is not feel-good work to me after the first 15 minutes. Tedious stuff for any adrenaline junkie.

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You need to take some medicinal pot breaks. It leads to more successful
grafting. Of course, I wouldn’t know.


That Indian Free should be left alone, I agree with Alan. It has almost no vigor now.

I have personally had very good luck grafting peaches on large stumps of older trees. I have some I grafted last spring and they look like whole trees again in only one year. The way I do it is wait until the leaves are out 1/2"-2", then cut down the old tree and immediately graft. Don’t cut down the tree earlier, you won’t have enough sap flow at the trunk top.


Well as I stated, I’ve already cut that limb down the last couple days of pruning. I wasn’t planning on doing anything with that Indian Free. I figured it hasn’t grown much because 1) I left 1 peach on it last year just so I could make sure it was IF rather than IB and 2) it wasn’t getting much sun due to all the other foliage. This year it’s the only game in town on that branch, it’s going to get much more sun, and I’m going to thin off any fruit that grows on it. So you think after the leaves come out I should chop down that trunk top how far? A few inches on top of the IF as Alan suggests? And finally, what type of graft?

I was thinking of doing something like this with that middle limb:

Good video, it looks like he’s grafting early spring. I’ve heard that peaches required warmer temps to graft?

Yes, I plan on waiting another month to graft, but I needed to get the pruning done now. Scott has said to graft peaches when the highs are 85 and lows are 65 for at least a few days straight.

Next time wait on pruning for such grafts. Its better now than if you did it in the fall but still the longer you wait the better. I make a note in my head of the topworking trees and completely skip over them when pruning. Cut it off a few inches above the IF and graft. I would recommend bark grafts but cleft also work well.


I agree Scott on the pruning. The reason I did it now is because 1) everyone says to prune peaches now to stimulate growth, which is what I wanted for the rest of the tree, and 2) I didn’t want the top part of this middle limb to continue getting all the action. I wanted the IF to get the attention. Thanks much!

BTW, this is what this Red Baron looked like just 2 years ago around the time when I grafted that IF as well as an Arctic Supreme White on it (I grafted a bunch more on to it that year as well as last year, but nothing but the IF and ASW took).


Might help also to to give to tree a good dose of nitrogen and water it good a few weeks prior to the graft time.


WHEW! Now that is one beautiful tree. I’ll never understand ornamental, bloom-only tree when there are trees like that which look just as beautiful (if not more so) AND produce fruit! I understand some homeowners just don’t want the work of spraying, thinning, pruning, and harvesting fruit, but personally I’ll stick with productive trees as long as they look 1/2 as good as your Red Barron.

Hey, Rob, what is the story with the yellow strips all the way up the tree? Just curious!


Yeah, some people don’t like the work and my buddy doesn’t like all the bees they attract, but c’mon, you can’t beat ripe fruit from your own yard! Plus what a great way to bless others with the fruit of your labor! Totally worth all the effort, and for me it’s very, very therapeutic!

The yellow strips are vain grafting attempts with Doc Farwell’s Grafting Seal.


Yep, I’m planning on giving them manure soon. Here in our area of the Salt Lake Valley, we don’t need to worry about water in the spring with all the snow melt.

Lot of good comments here. Personally big peach wood doesn’t work as good for me. I’ll admit my labor and success rates become more and more important to me as I become more commercial. Sad, I know.

If I can make this phone work. Here is a pic of a one season tree grown from seed, which I budded last fall. Notice on the biggest part of the tree I budded didn’t take. The smaller portions of the tree I budded worked better.

Here is one of several 1" rootstocks which worked

But truly, I prefer the smaller stuff. It’s so forgiving. Here is a 1/2" stock. Nice to work with.

Please pardon any mistakes. I can hardly read the screen on my phone, much less any pics. Waiting for the rain to subside.


I’ll have extra grafts coming to me, so I’m planning on trying them on my young peaches growing from seed in my backyard. Thx!

Is low vigor a trait of Indian Free trees?

Mine is also low vigor and not particularly healthy looking. I’m wondering if it’s the tree or the soil. I haven’t done much fertilizing so maybe that’s the problem.

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