After cutting down a 5” diameter male persimmon tree this spring, I waited until shoots came up from the stump before grafting multiple scions to them on Aug. 20. All seem to have taken - temps were ideal for over a month. Now with colder weather moving in, I’m wondering if I should do anything to winter protect the young grafts. I thought of putting a mesh cage around it and filling it with leaves. Thoughts?
You should have waited till spring for grafting. Now any kind of protection won’t help you much, I’m afraid.
I basically agree with you, but must deal with the situation as it is now. I obtained scions last winter and had them refrigerated, anticipating new shoots coming from the stump of my male D. virginiana I cut down in mid-spring. New shoots did not come up as fast as I hoped, though. Once they were of the size I wanted, it was already mid-August. I did not want to waste the scions by putting them back in the fridge for a second season and maybe dying, so I ignored the received wisdom and went ahead and grafted them.
Since ALL of the 11 scions “took” quickly (7-10 days) when the temps were in the mid-80s to lower 60s up to the end of September here (zone 6b/7a), and the darkening of the bark of the new shoots indicates they have at least partly matured, I am somewhat optimistic. But if there is anything I can do to increase the odds of success, I want to do it.
SO… any suggestions, anyone? Is my idea of putting a wire cage around the grafts and filling it with leaves as good as any? I re-wrapped each graft with a fresh rubber band, too. The original bands dried out and started falling off.
I think the leaf-filled cage will give you decent odds. Another consideration is to shield it from the wind, particularly the north. How tall are your grafts? If you really want to go to town, you can build a box for it out of rigid insulation foam. Or, you can make a straw bale fortress and cap it with the rigid foam. Then, you’ll also have straw for your gardens come spring.
Agree with Jay, but I’m very curious! Maybe a pic would be helpful, if all 11 scions survive, do you plan to pick only the strongest in spring. If they took as you described, make a memo to remove those rubber bands as soon as they begin growing in spring. I usually remove mine after a month or so of bud break.
I’m planning to wrap a graft from June in a pipe insulation tube then cover that with aluminum foil to avoid overheating on sunny days. I will also mound goat manure at the base. Although the graft looks good and mostly lignified (?) — temperatures goes to 20 below here and I always loose ready grafted trees.
Jay, good suggestions, thanks! Yes, the wind issue is on my mind. I planned to wrap black plastic around the cage as a windbreak prior to stuffing it with leaves, but the straw bale idea has merit if I can get the bales cheap enough - will check. If I can anchor it down securely, maybe I could just top the cage with a big sheet of Styrofoam. The grafts are about 2 to 2-1/2’ tall.
Dennis, thanks for the reminder about the rubber bands. I thought I’d better apply new ones to help avoid wind or snow nudging the grafts out of position during winter (I did not remove the parafilm, which was put on under the rubber bands, to see how callousing had progressed). I multigrafted the six shoots around the perimeter of the stump with six different varieties, one is a chip bud which seems to have done nothing. Here’s a picture from late August:
If the past few years are any indication, the temps should not get colder than 0 degrees F.
A major consideration when using cage and leaves is going to be vole protection as they can completely girdle your speciment
Yarg, that’s a good reminder. I guess a pile of loose leaves could attract voles, which I know we have around here. Maybe I should bag the leaves first in black trash bags, then place them around the stump rather than loose in the cage. That should both block wind and absorb some heat in winter. I may also put close-mesh wire (hardware cloth) around the bottom of the cage as a deterrent.
What varieties did you graft? If they are all hardy American types or even the more hardy hybrids, I’m not sure I’d go to great lengths to protect them myself. The only thing I might do is slip those foam pipe insulation tubes over them and put little stakes next to them to tie those off to. That will stabilize them and also buffer from wind and faster temperature changes without creating a vole hotel.
Also, if you have any buds that didn’t grow yet on the scions, you have a nice backup. I’ve grafted a bunch of seedling persimmons and a few have looked good in the fall, but the new growth had died and they had just grown from a dormant bud on the scion that hadn’t pushed the previous year. Of course if all the buds on the scions have already pushed you may want to do more to protect them since you don’t have the insurance of dormant buds. Persimmons can be a bit weird about what grows and what dies I’ve found. That chip bud, if calloused will probably push for you in the spring.
Did you have plans to reduce it to 1 or 2 next year or are you going to try to grow it as a multi-stem persimmon, almost like a big shrub?
Zendog, the grafts include 2 Saijo, 2 Rojo Brillanti, 2 Chuchupaka, 2 JT-02, 1 Tam Kam, 1 Prok, and a chip of Korea Kaki. The RB and CCP had bud swell but never opened (they were only about 1/8” thick), and are somewhat doubtful.
I grafted them all more in the interest of not letting the scions go to waste, than an intention of creating a “bush” of multi-grafts. Has anyone ever done that successfully? I’d think allowing them to keep growing together would result in included bark that would cause the whole thing to fall apart prematurely.
My thought right now is to try to re-graft those that make it through this winter to new single leader rootstocks next spring. When those grafts succeed, I’d cull out the saplings from the stump, leaving just one strong one to take over. Looks like it will be one of the JT-02s.
I thought I’d update this thead for those still curious about it. To recap, in this, my first year in grafting, I took the inadvisable step of attempting persimmon grafts in mid-August. I did it because that’s when I had multiple shoots of good size from the stump of a male D. virginiana I cut down in the spring, plus I had scionwood waiting in my fridge that I did not want to let get too old. So I went ahead and cleft grafted them all, and it seemed to me that all took. So, how to protect them over their first winter?
Several people made great suggestions. After first thinking of just dumping loose leaves in a cage around them, @Yarg pointed out that would predispose them to vole destruction, and @jcguarneri suggested that it would protect better to put some straw bales around them. This is what I wound up doing - straw bales with an inner wire cage against the rodents:
So far (12/19/21 as I write this), we have had no snow in my zone 6b, with daytime temps consistently in the 40’s and nighttime lows not below 25 deg F. So I am hopeful those mid-August grafts have had adequate time to “cure,” and the protection is adequate. Can’t wait for spring to see what it brings…