Scion safety? What size wood ? Time to bring it up!

I know ive posted before information about scion wood before but im posting again for the benefit of others. Im posting outside the tradingpost so everyone will be able to see useful tips for scion safety. If you buy scions bath them in solution before you graft them. Lots of new users this year on the forum many of which trade scions. I thought maybe its time to remind everyone to stay as safe as you can while your at it. Ive used a bleach solution for years on my scionwood and regretted it when i didnt. A fungus or bacteria seems like a small thing and typically they are but there are always exceptions. Never under any circumstance should you get scions from outside the country if someone offers them. Its dangerous and illegal. So back to the bleach solution for a minute its cheap and it primarily targets fungus. Someone normally asks what the bleach mixture is for dipping scion wood prior to shipping and Its a teaspoon of bleach to 1 quart of water. I rinse it under cold water after its bleach bath . I leave the scions in the bleach 5 or so minutes. The wood sometimes feels slimy as i rinse it off in the solution. Please under stand this will not help with virises such as stony pit so dont just feel like you should trade scions with anyone and everyon. If anyone has a better way please let me know. When i did trade scions (dont currently need or trade much) i try to get pencil sized wood that is recent growth that occurred this last year. If it has a couple of buds its usuable for me even if its only 4 inch long but 6-10 inches is what I normally see. I have used branches half the size of a pencil or twice as big. Usually a good grafter can make up for odd shaped scion wood for a good variety. Pencil sized wood is just easier.

People use different solutions some of which are better like tritek @applenut brought up years ago he soaks his scionwood in TriTek Fungicide Miticide Insecticide, OMRI Listed, Brandt Organics | Forestry Distributing North America's Forest Products Leader . For those who have not met @applenut does incredible work in developing countries. It takes 5 minutes to be safer with your scion wood your trading or buying. Originally discussed in a 2015 post when i still traded scions more often.


I’m with you on the bleach…it’s cheap enough and the scions don’t mould either, as well as killing off some of the nasties. You can go up to 10 percent bleach if you are surface cleaning seednuts. It won’t get anyhting inside the nut, or scions, for that matter, but it does get all the surface stuff. Since I’m in Canada, I just go to the CFIA web page and see what locations are probably safe. If a phyto is not needed for that location ad species, I figure they have the same pests we do. It’s a drop down automated thingy, so you can look up whatever you want and not comitt to a trade till you look up potential problems.


The product we use - TriTek, is labeled as a miticide, insecticide, and fungicide and is EPA listed as well as OMRI listed for organic use. DHL and all the air carriers accept is a not a Dangerous Good, and it only has a “Caution” label instead of “Warning”. The consumer version of it is Monterey Horticultural Oil I don’t think we could export without it, as nothing does all it does while being so non-toxic.

Invasive pests are a big deal where we ship. When invasive pests enter the USA, the price on commodities goes up a bit. When invasive pests enter developing nations, people starve. Do all you can to keep your pests to yourself.


I have two - three more days to collect scion wood before I think it will pretty much be too late. We are going into a warming trend and I think buds will begin to swell because of it. I was going to get some today, but it was way too windy (and cold because of it). I will try for tomorrow. Thanks for posting all of the safety tips, @clarklinks

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Since I plan to try my hand at grafting this year, this is great info to have. If I may ask, one issue I have is that rootstock is not always available the same time scion wood is being sold. How long can scion wood be kept in the fridge before it goes bad? Sorry if this is off topic.


Seems like a good question and i think this thread @Barkslip started described it well How We Prepare Scionwood For Storage .

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That’s a great question. It may depend on factors such as the species, variety, scion diameter, storage temperature, humidity, etc. I don’t know. I did have a 9 month old plum scion graft successfully. Since peaches are so difficult to graft perhaps they need to be much fresher.


Will definitely use the bleach/water solution on my scions before I start grafting this year. Thanks for the heads up and the mix strength ratio @clarkinks


Does anyone know if StarSan will work, or be safe to use on scions? I can’t remember the last time I’ve had bleach in the house, and I don’t want to start now! I’ve got plenty of StarSan from brewing beer, though.

Do you think peach is still ok at 60-90 days? I got some about 10 days ago that won’t be ready to graft until probably April.

Stored in ziploc, with wrung out paper towel, at 34°.

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It’s said that after 3-months deterioration begins setting in, however, you’ll have great scions at 4-months if you stored them well. Not too wet is the biggest problem.

Your bags/tupperware should never have larger than mist sized particles. That’s the key.

I think it’s a good idea to cut wood or ask the person who sent to you if they hydrated the wood just a hair and proceed from there. Cut your wood, immediately in a ziplock and into a handy-carry cooler with a bit of ice and bring back home/walk back home and here’s what I do:

I fill a large bowl with water (a splash of bleach - I usually skip I’ll admit it) and give fresh cuts to the scions and toss them in for 15-minutes. Then I air-dry under a ceiling fan turning over halfway for an hour or so having turned over 30-minutes thru.

Then if you have the inclination/time dab any cut end with wax or put a piece of parafilm over.

Then into the fridge with the date on the bag.

I do this for all the wood that comes in regardless and have stopped asking people if they did any prior hydration or not. If they dabbed the ends in wax I don’t do anything but keep them as is. That tells me that someone clipped the wood and immediately waxed the fresh cuts and that that wood is very good to go.

Sorry Jay I have no idea what StarSan is.

P.s. there is no set time. There are a lot of experienced grafters that know if they don’t cut the wood the year before they won’t have access to it again so they may cut it in the middle of summer the year prior to grafting or maybe that Fall (as they’re collecting nuts/fruit etc.) It’s very-very possible to graft that wood 6-9 months later w/success.


Very good information.

I find my grafting ‘take rate’ better on fresher scionwood….and after 3 or 4 months it falls off considerably.


Thanks for the link. It was very informative.


Time to revive this old thread. Hopefully it helps many of our new members before they start grafting. If you start out with a clean orchard life is easier!

How successful is cutting scion and grafting all in one process on the same day? Is there an advantage to a dormant (stored) scion grafted to an active tree vs. cut and graft all in one day?


All in one day is fine for apples, cherries and some other things… if the scion is still dormant.
Keeping it to graft after the sap rises in the rootstock may sometimes offer
extra options and possibly additional success–
mainly depending on the kind of tree you’re grafting.

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Trying to top a couple big pear trees. I was going to catch them at first sign of sap. Then cut and graft. Would collecting scion in advance be better?



Yes i would cut my scion wood now if I was going to as I think your running out of winter soon. It won’t hurt to prune pears now I prefer it. Don’t over prune your pears just prune what you need to. Don’t wait until it’s warm weather as many recommend that’s just asking for fireblight. Firebight is not active right now. Pruning seal is not a must but you can use it. We have lots of pears sometimes I use it if there is a reason

Stone fruits like peach and cherry I only prune once they are growing. Never trim large amounts on those trees you can kill them. Canker is your enemy with stone fruit and it will take advantage of your trees if you prune in winter.


I don’t know how well my grafting method/timing would work at other locations. Normally I both cut scions for storage and cut some and directly graft at this time of the year. Either way seems to work well for apples, pears, plums, and hazels. My experience with persimmons is limited but I think it’s best to cut and graft these after they start to leaf out. Before using parafilm I had a few failures but with parafilm it’s rare to have one fail.


Hope everyone has had a good grafting season! This year i just gave all scions from outside my orchard a good bleach bath like normal. Its not that i need to do that most of the time. It always makes me feel good to ensure i’m grafting healthy wood.