Persimmon grafting: Level of Difficulty

Thanks to an extremely harsh winter last year and a neighbor’s wreckless overspray of 2, 4-D herbicide, I lost the “tops” of almost all of my 5 persimmon trees (fuyu, hachiya, saijo, etc). The good news (maybe) is that by the end of the summer every one of them have sent up sprouts from the rootstock. I honestly don’t know what the rootstock is on these, but of course it isn’t the nice Asian persimmon varieties that I ordered. (they were mostly from Edible Landscaping if anyone knows what they use for rootstock?)

Anyway, my question is a fairly simple one (I think). I’m just wondering, in general, how difficult it is to graft persimmons? I have one Hachiya that did survive and put on enough growth this summer that I could probably get enough scion for 3-4 of the persimmon rootstocks that survived. But I’m pretty new to grafting so I just don’t know if its worth me keeping these living rootstocks and try to graft to them next spring, or if I should just dig them out and buy new trees??? I know there are lots of variables besides skill level involved in successful grafting, but I’m just trying to find out if, in general, persimmons are one of the harder or easier trees to graft. For example, I’ve had great success with apples and pears, so I’d call them “easy” to graft, but I’ve had terrible success rates with peaches and cherries, so to me they are “hard” to graft. So where would you all place persimmons on the easy-----hard scale?
Thanks! Kevin

EL uses virginiana rootstock, for starters. I found persimmons easy to do whip and tounge on this spring. It was my first attempt, 6/7 took. The wood is pretty hard so it was easy (for me) to get precise cuts. Main points are to graft after the rootstock has fully flushed out leaves and diligent removal of all buds as they emerge from the rootstock (there will be lots for quite a while). In my opinion, don’t dig them up unless there is residual 2,4D damage.

I found the easiest graft on established rootstock is the bark graft. I’ve had some success on small seedlings using W&T and Cleft. Seems like they take best when the sap is running strong.

Thanks for those insights. Very much appreciated. I was very reluctant to dig up the 4-5 rootstocks since they will be 2 and 3 year old next year, meaning 2-3 years worth of roots and establishing themselves. I knew if I could get grafts to take that I’d be way ahead with that vs. new baby trees. But if persimmons were as hard as some fruits to graft, I was worried I just couldn’t ever get a successful graft.

This year was my first attempt at grafting persimmons. The biggest issue I had was bad scionwood.

Results:

5/17:

  • 2/2 with wood from one of my trees
  • 0/4 with suspect wood of 3 different varieties (looked dry/dead)

5/23:

  • 7/7 using good wood from Scott on a single large rootstock
  • 0/1 on a smaller rootstock with thin wood (the only double-cleft I tried)

6/16:

  • 2/2 using good wood (re-grafts on the earlier failures)

I checked out how they are doing and all the takes appear to be doing well. I waited too long to take off the tape and 3 of the grafts (those highest in the tree) are somewhat damaged.

A normal graft (this one is a bit on the short side, but healed nicely). The only way you can see where the cleft graft was made is due to the white dots on the scion.

A graft which grew too much for the tape.

Don’t feel bad, Bob, I did the same thing on one of my grafts!

Thanks for the awesome and honest info, Bob. You give me hope. I also couldn’t help but chuckle when I noticed that I’m not the only one who is such a cheapskate that I reuse those white tags by marking out the prior name and writing the new one further toward the end. haha.

My experience with persimmons is most of my mistakes are grafting too early. This year I did the first round when there were 1" or so of leaves, but the bark was still not slipping well (it didn’t peel off easily). None of them took. When I re-grafted a month later they all took. I am always going to check for good bark slippage from now on.

Oops- I hadn’t even realized that I was showing off my “efficiency” :smile:. I’ll give you an example from even further down the cheapness scale. When I run out of tags, I write the name on some of the green garden tape and use that instead. In fact, when taking the tape off late in the summer I needed to scramble to find a more permanent tag. On a few where nothing came to hand, I just retied the tape loosely.

Looking again at the tags in the pics, I should also note that I’ve sometimes had trouble with the writing fading. So, I sometimes write the name twice (on both sides, as one side will probably face the sun more), with 2 different pens (often one lasts longer than the other).

Between your “fiscal conservativeness” (ie "cheapness) and procrastination tendencies (waiting until the end of summer to do permanent tags) I’m confident we’d be fast friends! ha. I’m one of the worlds biggest misers- even with my employers money, much to the frustration of many employees. :smile:

Thanks, @scottfsmith, I’ll keep that tip in mind for next spring. I desperately do want to turn my 2 and 3 year old root stocks into viable persimmon trees, so it is important to me that I succeed in grafting all those that had the tops die.

I had pretty good success whip and tongue grafting native on native persimmons when I was first learning to graft, but that was pretty random, and it took me 3-4 years with dozens of attempts per year to get decent success rates with Asian persimmons. For the first few years I didn’t get a single graft to take and survive through until the next year. I wouldn’t exactly say that, in my experience, they’re hard to graft, though. I just think that there are a lot of details to pay attention to with persimmons that aren’t so important with other species. For example, removing competing growth from below the graft multiple times per week is something that seems necessary with persimmons. I wouldn’t call that “hard,” because you certainly don’t need to be an expert grafter to do it, but those kind of extra steps seem to matter more. Something else that I think was a huge issue for me was persimmon psylla (although they don’t seem to be a big issue for other people in other areas, perhaps because they’re in areas where there aren’t so many native persimmons growing already.) I think the psylla just sapped the life out of my grafts before they could really get going. I now put bags of row cover (remay) material around all my persimmon grafts now before they start to grow, and that seems to make a big difference. The bags accommodate at least 6" of new growth, and once they grow that much they seem to be able to outgrow further problems. The bags can catch the wind, though, so they definitely require staking. It all makes for a lot of time per graft, but again, I wouldn’t say any of it is really “hard.” I also think I made mistakes early on grafting too high in the tree and where the stem was too small. If there is any point at which the tree previously branched and where the continuing stem tapers significantly, it seems best to graft below that point. I think with a lot of my failures I tried to find a place on my tree (rootstock) where the diameter came fairly close to the diameter of my scion for a neater fit, but it seems best to graft onto the largest portion of the trunk (and not worry at all about the rootstock being a lot larger), not necessarily at the very bottom, but below any place where the tree previously forked out in 7 directions like persimmons do.

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Eric- Now that’s the kind of detailed info I was looking for. Of course, I’m now going to have to go research what persimmon psylla is, but that was an extremely helpful response. Thank-you.

Psylla is an insect: Trioza diospyri . Eggs are deposited on new growth leaves and it causes them to curl. If you look closely on the underside of the leaf you will see a white like substance with the naked eye. These are generally “farmed” by ants. When I see ants on young persimmons, I spray them with permethrin. You can use Sevin, but Permethrin seems to last longer. If you catch it early, it is not a problem. If you don’t it will set back young persimmons. They don’t seem to like the older growth as much. I generally find them on new growth on young trees. If you get a little leaf curl, you can uncurl and remove the eggs by rubbing between your finger. If the leaf curl is more significant, remove the curled leaves completely and dispose elsewhere. I have had some success in reducing the problem using a bug zapper near the trees to kill adults, but I found watching for ants and using permethrin as soon as I see them is the most effective.

Jack,

Thanks for the infos. I have a total of 12 D.Vs and Kakis but so far have not seen any Psylla. I will have to keep a close eye on them.

Tony

Tony, I don’t believe persimmon psylla have alternate hosts, so if persimmons don’t grow wild in your area, I don’t think there would be any psylla to affect your trees.

In my experience, if persimmon psylla kill a graft they do it before the first leaf ever sizes up and sometimes before the elongated bud even opens up into a leaf at all. I suspect that persimmon psylla prefer Asian persimmons (either that or new Asian persimmon growth is generally less vigorous or less vigorous when grafted onto native rootstock, but I suspect the psylla just like Asian growth better), because I’ve had a decent number of native on native grafts survive without protection but practically no Asians. I think the problem is definitely compounded by the fact that I’m not grafting until after the native persimmons have all leafed out, and then it’s longer yet before my grafts start to grow, so by that time my grafts are about the only fresh new growth around, and that’s what the psylla really seem to like.

We have persimmon psylla out here in the desert with no native persimmon and very few planted persimmon. But usually they come in late and only affect late growth. If they arrived on the initial growth it would be ugly.

To expand on my previous post, here are some pics of my Saijo I grafted this spring. I did 2 grafts onto a seedling virginiana that was about 3’ tall.


My basic technique was: whip and tounge graft, tightly wrap with grafting rubbers, wrap graft union and scion in parafilm, and make a shield from aluminum foil to cover graft union. All other branches were removed at time of grafting and rootstock buds had to be rubbed off frequently (2-3x per week) for a month or two. It has grown about 18" this year with quite a few branches.

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Cousinfloyd,

That could very well be. I did all of my grafting on young persimmons indoors under lights and had no problems with the grafts. My issues occurred after I took the plants outside where I presume they got exposed. I have also had psylla issues with young trees grown from seed for rootstock. They seem to like young succulent growth. New leaves on the plant are most effected. With my trees both American and Oriental were impacted at about the same rate.

You won’t believe this, but I’m pretty confident that I have a psylla problem even though I had no idea what it was until this excellent thread! It’s true, the only 2 complete persimmon trees I have left are Hachiyas and starting about 1/2 way through summer, every single time new growth would come out, the leaves would quickly become all curled up and over time they’d stay that way and just be unhealthy looking. Further down, the established older leaves didn’t seem to be affected. Of course I never knew to look for the white stuff you just described. The final evidence I have to offer is that I’ve definitely seen ants on the new leaves in a higher concentration that on typical trees. And just so you know, there are certainly wild persimmons in my area and one wild persimmon tree about 300 yards away. Based on everything you all have just said, I think I may have learned an extremely helpful lesson here. One more reason I love this site! THanks so much for everyone’s input!