Please help me top work this apple tree

Well, temp was in the 70’s today and is going to be in the 70’s for the next 7 days and most of my trees are currently leafing out. So it felt like time to start my big, important (to me) project. I laid out everything I’d need and got to work. I’m sure I’ve made lots of mistakes, but I’ve got a thick skin and am trying to learn so if you see anything obvious please let me know. I’ve only done one of the stubs and 2 small limbs/suckers. BTW…I just got a grafting tool (shown in photo) and I’m blown away by how easy it makes matching cuts for pencil sized grafts. But more on that later…lets look at my work so far. I know its messy and rough, just remember its my first time! Thanks.

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Personally, I’d use a lot more grafting tape than that. You need the pressure
from the grafting tape, in order to help the grafts stay secure with the cambrium layers.

On a big tree like that the bark is so thick that I expect there should be enough pressure on the scion without any taping.

The only thing I would not have done there is the all-black top, its fine if it doesn’t get really hot but on a really hot day (upper 80s) it could fry the grafts.


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Thanks. I need to paint the trunks of several of my trees white anyway, so when I do that I’ll go ahead and put some of the paint (with a slightly watered down paint as I understand it) those trunks I will go ahead and put some of the white paint on top of that black surface…unless there is some reason not to do that.
As for the amount of tape…I’m not clear on where you were saying you would have used more? Most of the videos I’ve watched didn’t use any grafting tape on big trees like this-they used rope or string like I did. That’s why I’m a little confused when you say you’d have used “more”…I didn’t use any. (Maybe I should have?) The white stuff around the top is rope, if you can’t tell, which is what I saw used in most videos. I covered all the grafts with wax to keep them from drying out/getting wet, and then I put rope around the whole thing to pull all the bark tight around the grafts and hold them in place.
Or maybe you were saying to use more grafting tape on the small grafts I did on the suckers?
Thanks for advice and I look forward to your clarification on the tape so I’ll know for the next time.


I think Ray was pointing to the layer of tape encircling the trunk that hold the bark grafts tight. I have seen people use duck tape around big trunk like that to prevent wind breaking the grafts.

OK…I thought so…I guess its hard to tell from the photo, but that isn’t tape…its white rope. and 2 wraps was more than enough to pull everything tight together. But thanks all!

I didn’t know that was rope. I’ve never seen that done before, but I would
have sealed the grafting wax, which I don’t use, and the graft with either parafilm or grafting tape, before I did the rope. But there’s more than one
way to skin a cat, and I hope it works for you.

Good news ray…that is exactly what I did do. Once again, its not clear in the photo…but after I made the incision, pulled the bark away from the tree (it was slipping, which I understand is a good sign), and inserted my shaved scion under the bark, I did then seal everything around the scion with wax. I completely covered the incision I made on the bark, which was now slightly pulled back from the tree due to the scion being under it. So covered that little gap, and all around the scion so no air/water can get into the bark. Then as a precaution, I also covered the entire area around the scion that was wax sealed with the Tree Wound tar.
I then very tightly wrapped rope around the top of the stump just to hold all the scions in place and help keep the slits in the bark held tight against the tree. The rope idea wasn’t my own…several videos I watched from various universities showed the rope method so I thought it was common. Thanks again for checking all this for me…it sounds like I did what you were recommending, which is a good thing.

Looks good to me. I predict success.

You say the bark was slipping which is necessary. If it was nice and moist and slipping where the scion touch the cambium layer of the host tree then I don’t think you have to worry about the concerns with respect to having made the cuts days in advance.

If you don’t want to buy a grafting knife, I’d suggest using a box cutter that has a fixed (not retractable) blade for more control.

Is the serrated knife for cutting the rope?

I was going to suggest permanent labels, but I see them in one of the pictures, and you probably put those on right after taking the other pics. I trust you know to avoid girdling the scion. On a stump that size you might be shocked at how quickly the scion gains girth.

I’d recommend some time of sanitation for your shears and knife/tool between grafts.

Is it necessary to apply wax and then the wound healer? What if you just have the pruning sealer? Can you just cover everything with the sealer?

I would almost certainly say yes. I just did it because the sealer seemed much tougher and more likely to stay in place, especially on hot days in the sun when I was afraid the wax would melt. I think using both was an unnecessary overkill and that the sealer alone would have been fine…perhaps even better since the sealer would obviously bind better to the wood bark and scion than to the wax. Next time I’ll probably use only the sealer.

That’s not what I said. You sealed the wax with the sealer. That’s
doing the same thing twice, just two different products. I said to
wrap the waxed graft in either grafting tape or parafilm. To me that’s a tighter
and better pressurized seal of the graft than using rope.

Sorry I misunderstood, Rayrose. As I said in my last post, I think sealing with wax and sealer was unnecessary and probably counterproductive-I won’t do it again. I would think the rope would be a much tighter and stronger hold for all the completed grafts than grafting tape or parafilm, and as we’ve established-everything was already well sealed. But maybe I’m missing something again. I appreciate your advice.
Murky, you have repeatedly been helpful and I’m very grateful. Actually, the little sour cream container in the photo was filled with diluted bleach water and I dipped all my tools in it after each graft. So maybe I got at least one thing right! As for the bark slipping…it was, but not as much as I’d liked and probably it should have been. I have seen conditions where you could almost pull the park away from the wood by hand. in this case, it did take a fair amount of effort…though it did separate cleanly so I hope it was ok. I don’t mind buying a grafting knife…but I’ve seen so many people say they prefer a box cutter. I never thought about the box cutter being retractable. I actually have one that isn’t but its more trouble to change blades so I got this one. I guess I’ll get a grafting knife now. I didn’t really label the ones on the big graft at the time because they were all the same, but as you saw, I have permanent and will be applying them. One of the few things I am good about is labeling everything I plant/grow with date and variety. Mostly because I have awful memory and its so nice being able to grab a label and know what I’m looking at and when it was planted or graft.
Finally…the cheap serrated kitchen knife you asked about. I fear your going to tell me I made a bad mistake here, but I used to it to: 1) sort of pull the crack apart after I slice the bark and 2) I slide it down where the scion is going to go so I can separate the bark from tree better so their will be no resistance when I slide the scion down between the bark and wood. I’m pretty careful not to do any damage or contaminate the inner “flap”, but if don’t do this “pilot hole” my scion sometimes breaks when I’m pushing it down into the bark/wood space.

Hmm, it sounds like the bark wasn’t slipping very well. You should be able to pull it away with your fingers once it is begun. When I insert a bark graft scion I just peel back the bark enough to get the tip in and then slide the scion in and it makes its own pocket as it goes.

But I also graft later than many. I like to see some leaves emerging.

In any case, you’ll know in a few weeks. Worst case is you can bud some new growth later in the summer or next spring.

I think everyone has adequately covered the grafting technique. If all goes well with the grafts you should see a tremendous amount of grouth this year. That is a lot of roots feeding a small amount of buds. Good luck Bill

Most of the high volume professional grafters on YT use the asphalt emulsion stuff. I have heard 67chevyimpala speak of the concern with heat though. Initially he claims it improves the “take”, but when it starts getting hot he advises the orchard owner to get some white paint on them to prevent burning.

If its not too hot its on your side. But one freaky hot day and your grafts are fried. Been there, done that. I still use asphalt stuff on grape grafts, they want as much heat as you can give them.


The last picture looks ok. Not a fan of the rope for tension though. Try to make the wax a little warmer and it will flow and seal better. The cut off huge side stub will almost certainly have the bark on that side die back causing future problems. Don’t be afraid to bark graft a bunch on that. I noticed a lot of vigorous growth on the mother limb. It may become dominant sucking the life away from the grafts. By all means cut off any watersprouts or aggressive growth off that mother! I had to laugh at the comments on the black sealer. We would like a little extra heat up here.

I went to Raintree Nursery’s full day of classes yesterday.A guy,Gary Moulton, former manager of the Westside tree fruit program at WSU’s Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center,was a main speaker.
One of the things I remember him saying,was to go back and check the next day or so,for small pin holes or places missed that aren’t sealed.
Overall though,nice job,cityman. Brady

The timing and accuracy of your comment is amazing! Just yesterday I was kind of admiring my handy-work (ha) and I actually noticed exactly what you just learned about…sure enough, there were several little “pin holes” at and around several of my graft sites. I honestly think they weren’t there when I finished the work originally, but when the tar/wound dressing I used for sealant dries, it contracts a little bit. So places where it barely covered or was thin or maybe missed, the holes you refer to just sort of appeared. As a result, I carefully inspected the whole project and dabbed a little more sealer over the pin-holes you speak of. SO that is a great lesson, and if people see this thread in the future I hope they learn from your comment and my confirmation of it. So thanks.
Oh…I also wanted to confirm a comment Scott made earlier. The solid black surface left by the black tar wound dressing really does result in it getting very warm. Since I did my work we’ve had a few cool (low 60’s) days but when you touch those blackened stumps you can absolutely feel that they are much warmer than you’d expect. I honestly think this might be a good thing for cooler weather like we’ve had, and the you tube guy “chevyimpala” says this too. But he, Scott, and now myself also all agree that when the weather gets warmer, this solid black surface should be painted white or it could absolutely overheat the new, tender grafts.