Like many places in the country, we have having extremely unusual warm weather. It has lasted so long that most of my fruit trees are blooming and tiny leaves are starting to come out on a lot of them. From what I know about grafting (only been doing it 3 years, so not much) “they” generally suggest that you graft when the temperature is going to be above 70 for at least 3 days and when the leaves on a tree are about the size of squirrel ears (who came up with that standard I’ll never know!).
Well, therein lies the problem. The temp has actually been about that warm but is not going to stay that way (predicted to be 29 degrees Saturday night!). Now that most things have bloomed and started pushing leaves, most of my trees are very likely to have full sized leaves and either dead buds/blooms/fruit or else good sized fruit by the time we have 70 degrees for 3 days again. In other words, it seems like its wrong to graft now knowing there is so much more cold or cool weather to come, but it also seems wrong to wait for the level of warmth required because that could easily be 2 months from now, and grafting 2 months after bud break and leaf push is also wrong.
So now what? Graft so early knowing cold weather is surely still comming, or graft long after tree growth has advanced beyond what is ideal for grafting? Surely I’m not the only one struggling with this question? Thanks
I’m no expert either. But I’m of the opinion that as long as your scions are cold and dormant I wouldn’t rush grafting. I’ve had a lot of success grafting to trees that are fully leafed out because I had good dormant scion wood. I think mouse ears is perfect but if it’s going to be cold I’d wait. Even if the tree is leafed out.
If you’re grafting apples and pears you might get away with it, but I’d hold off. The important thing is that you need sap to be flowing to keep the scion from drying out before it takes. Dry = dead. I’ve often grafted well after the leaves are out with no problems. It’s nice to get an early start, especially if you have lots of grafts to do, but I typically get my first few in the last week in April here and won’t hesitate to add a late-comer right into June if the scion is of good quality.
The guy who came up with the squirrel ear standard was some one shot-wonder who aspired to more memorable mnenomics. Had a big brother who went to school with the guy that came up with “the bee’s knees” and the “cat’s meow”, and always wanted to that good. Nobody remembers him now- heck, nobody remembers the big brother. But the bee’s knees guy, well, he became a famous speechwriter for Calvin Coolidge, and the rest is history!
So now you have the rest of the story.
I am in interested in hearing lots of folks’ perspectives on answering City’s question of when to graft this season.
This season is shaping up to be much like last year-- difficult for judging when to graft. Hopefully we won’t have vicious freezing winds in April like we did last year.
The suggestions given are what I was thinking too…ie wait for warm weather if it does mean many of my trees will be fully leafed out and have fruit (or frost-dead fruit). But its nice hearing other opinions since it’s going to be impossible to apply normal guidelines when trees leaf out in FEBRUARY!!
(@Bradybb, thanks for fixing my title. I bet my posts drive you crazy since they often have typos! ha. But thanks)
I do that quite a bit,with titles here.It must be the old spelling bee habit kicking in.All this time I thought my correcting was being done anonymously. Brady
When more than one judge has disagreed with the majority opinion, they may all contribute to a single dissenting opinion, or they may each write their own. Looks like most everyone says wait so I will be the one that is different. I start my grafting around the first of the year and do a few along. Just guessing about the numbers but I have already installed about one hundred and did basically the same thing last year. I don’t really disagree with how others do their grafting but my method has worked well and gives me something to do on warm winter days.
Thanks, Bill. The best thing about your suggestion and success is that now that the warm weather has me all excited I can actually go ahead and do some grafting instead of having to wait! I think I’ll take both opinions and try and split things up. I’ve got enough scionwood of most things I want to graft that I can do some now and some in a month or two.
I should have mentioned that I keep a spare of most of my scions in the refrigerator just in case my earlier attempts fail. I haven’t had to use the spares but you never know. My grafting during the winter months are almost 100% cleft and side types and wrapped in parafilm.
Bill just for clarification for those reading your in the south and grafting pomes. People in the north definitely should not try grafting. Its a lesson in patience so far this year. Its currently 21 degrees farenheit after having been 80 degrees. It will be back in the 60s by tomorrow. The trees are as confused as the grafters in Kansas.
Good point that I should have mentioned. My location is much warmer than most members and what I do might not work in other areas. Most of my grafting is with apples and pears however I did a few plums last year and a few pluots this winter. If anyone decides to try what I do I definitely would have a backup plan. Bill
You offer an alternate approach that is worth experimenting with. When do your trees break dormancy?
I would definitely try it on an experimental basis and have a backup plan. My trees break dormancy at different times. This year they appear to be 2-3 weeks early. My pears are starting first this year and it depends on the variety. Hood is first followed by Kieffer and Orient. Ayers and Moonglow looks to be 1-2 weeks behind the others. Everything else is dormant but they will soon start growing.