Tiny scions

Well, regarding scion wood sizes, you have to take what you can get. If Fedco is the only nursery/orchard/supplier you can find for a particular variety, well…Fedco will have to do.

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The first place to go is the scion exchange on this forum, IMO. I reckon most varieties worth growing are grown by someone here. Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t get tiny scions- not everyone grows vigorous fruit trees.

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I love the scion exchange website!!! It is very well organized, easy to use, and there’s a good-sized list of varieties to search through and choose from. I’m always disappointed to see, however, a lot of the northern varieties I search for are only found to be available from other traders in Canada (and so the cross-border exchange of scions cannot take place). :cry:

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Most of my trees are all still very young and I’m growing the majority in restricted size as espalier trees. Summer pruning removes a lot of potential graft wood, so most of the scionwood I collect from my own trees is often pretty small.

I haven’t found this a big handicap. Once I got used to working with the skiny wood my success rate was quite good.

Today I took a look at a chip bud graft I did last summer on a branch that wasn’t much bigger than a toothpick at the time. It has just started growing, so skimpy wood still can work just fine in case you’re worried.

Pic I took today of the miniscule chip bud I did last year:

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I believe it is a mistake to rush spreading such a graft. It will grow much more vigorously if allowed a more vertical position and can be spread later, after it is well established. Meantime, prune away sources of shade in the tree.

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I guess I’m being a little overly cautious after a mistake on waiting too long on an espaliered apple tree last year. A deer had destroyed one of the branches from the lowest tier on a 4 year old espallier. I induced a lower bud to break by notching and it grew well.

I was paranoid on bending it down because I knew it would have a hard time putting on the length it needed without apical dominance. I waited until the end of the summer to bend it down and it had already hardened too much too bend it without risking breaking it. So now I guess I’m being overly cautious on not having a repeat of that.

Thank for your feedback.

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Fruitwood Nursery gave me good sized scions this year. Perfect size for chip budding. My vanity walnut is already starting to break through the tape.
Horne Creek, very small. I was a bit shocked to be honest, but I think some of the chip buds will take. I tried some omega grafting too, but chip budding is where I usually have the most success.

I appreciate the suggestions on this thread. Since I chip bud, I need big buds.

Thanks for all the helpful replies. I ended up doing some whip and tongue and a bunch of modified cleft. I did a few bark grafts, but didn’t have a ton of confidence as the cambium was mostly lifting with the bark. I’ll report back on the successes!

Although the scions were small, Fedco’s rootstock is really nice. Lots of very bushey healthy roots. They were also really good on the customer service end.

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When picking scion wood from 100+ year old pears in abandoned orchards or by roadside, often the only new branches one can get (or reach - thanks to deer) are 2-3mm thin. One is lucky to get a 4mm stick. I’ve managed to graft quite a bunch successfully using goat’s foot grafting as they were too thin and brittle for anything else.

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Not used to the term - care to describe?

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Maybe there is also another term in English - it is what we use in Slovak & it does look like a goat’s foot:


Here is a video demonstration: https://youtu.be/-O2JYSQsofY?t=290

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I’ve purchased scions once, from fruitwood nursery, and they were about 1/2” thick each (purchased 5 different scions).

Thank you! Nice graft. Not sure what other names it has, but goat’s foot works nicely.

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It’s a type of wedge graft.

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I’m not sure the “stored energy” in the small piece of scion your graft to a (in comparison) massive rootstock is much of a factor.

In my experience the size and “maturity” of the buds on the scion are usually a better indicator. Id rather have a thin scion with well defined buds than the other way around!

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Those scions seems just fine to me.

Although the golden russet clearly is the terminal part of the scion. The buds closest to the end usually have slightly worse success. But can still be used in a pinch.

I love chip budding. since a size mismatch is not a factor. (within reason)

If made a topic with pictures how to graft really thin 1/12th inch scions on thicker stock.

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The Grafter’s Handbook just calls this an “inlay graft”:

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I have had nice thick J. plum scions grow into a 1" diameter 8’ tall well branched trees (on top of the existing tree) in one growing season and that is with our not especially long NY growing season. I feel certain that will never happen with a scion that starts as a toothpick no matter what it’s grafted to and I put an awful lot of grafts on established, vigorous trees. I often convert older apple trees to new varieties for clients along with grafting 2-4 year old well rooted trees in my nursery.

But thinking about it, stored energy may have nothing to do with it. When you use a thicker scion it is like having a thicker diameter hose that increases access to water and nutrients from the roots from the get go. Of course such a scion will establish more quickly than one trying to pull that sap from a tiny straw.

The reason why is theoretical but the reality of more vigorous growth from thicker scions is irrefutable to my experience. Not that I expect anyone else to be impressed with my anecdotes, but do some comparisons and tell me what you find out with spring grafting.

Discussions help us think. Thank you.

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I agree with you, because I’d think that a thicker scion requires more to just survive anyway, any more energy there may be gets used up to keep it alive.

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As I read your first paragraph I was thinking exactly what you wrote in your second paragraph. It’s a guess but very logical.