What I may have learned about grafting stonefruit this year

The first thing I learned was that Scott is probably right about the need to graft peaches preceding a warm spell that is at least well into the 70’s. I was tired of waiting for warm weather so tested my idea that it was more about tree development than temps, but developed leaves don’t necessarily carry new wood as I didn’t get many takes. E. plum grafts did much better than the peaches in the cool weather. In general all plums are more consistently successful for me than peaches.

All my grafts were splice grafts with near equal diameter pieces of wood from the tree and scion being grafted together. Wood about as thick or a bit thicker than a cheap Bic pen tends to give me the highest percentage of takes with peaches. I was hoping to get more half inch thick pieces to take while grafting to upper trunks of 2 year trees directly with splice grafts but only about 30% of the really thick pieces made it. Had much better success with plums when using thick wood. Thin wood reduces my success with splice grafts considerably.

J. plums can be grafted quite late as I did some on Mem day weekend- about 5 weeks after they would have lost their petals- 4 grafts and they all took vigorously and were showing growth just 3 days after the graft! They were showing no green when I grafted them either. Peaches done that late had more problems- some made a feeble attempt unfurling a single leaf whereas the too early failures never showed any sign of life.

I got 60-70% of my peach grafts to take that were done at the optimum time- only 30% of the late ones took and maybe less than 20% of early ones. Overall, nearly 90% of all plum grafts took and although I didn’t try grafting the J plums early or the E plums late, both did really well whenever I tested them.

I used buddy tape (a thin and stretchy parafilm) wrapped entirely over the scions and put a dab of grafting putty over the tips for good measure.

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I accidentally tested this hypothesis when the forecast shifted to cooler right after one peach grafting round this spring, and I had 0% success on those which makes your 20% look good. Oddly grapes have usually also needed warmth but the grapes grafted on the same day as the dud peaches had a 50% success rate. When I saw it was too cool I painted black tar on the grape graft area to help the sun warm it up. I wish I had done that on the peaches, it may have made a difference.

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this year I received many cuttings apricot, but were coming bad, shabby had mold the water and disinfect with bleach and perfect, but I was wrong in the method used when grafting.

engraftment using the slit method and English and is a mistake for much of the scion is sealed and is prone to that mold reappears.
another time it receives cuttings with mold, I’ll grafting using the method of chip for 2 reasons (I can leave the tip exposed to not have moisture or mold and do not need to use 100% of cutting I have only to select the yolk and where wood was less attacked by brotitis or mold).

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Matrix I agree less grafting material in many cases is better than more. 3 buds I’ve found are not more likely to take on a rind or cleft graft than one it’s just a waste of wood. The tree can more easily feed sap to one bud on 1 or 2 inches of wood than 10 buds on 12 inches of wood. In the end the 1 inch will grow enough that I need to cut a couple feet off. A single bud in a tbud slit graft I imagine is even better but I’m speaking from experience with other grafts and not from that type.
Alan & Scott,
I like Scott’s method with stone fruits and I’ve definitely found it to be true. I watch the forecast now! With plums I’ve found those very easy to graft and I even grafted them in cooler weather. Don’t try it with peaches I did and lost every graft once.

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Now that I am reasonably successful with stonefruit grafts, I will not keep two trees to a hole anymore except with patented varieties. Unlike down in Scotts area, most species live a long time here so you might as well keep several varieties on one full-sized tree. It provides an incentive to start with longer living varieties, although there isn’t much in the literature on that.

Madison has been my longest lived peach based on not a very scientific evaluation. Castleton is my shortest lived E. plum (probably the down side of being a natural semi-dwarf)- I have no insight about the longest living ones as all the other ones I grow have shown good resilience except maybe the Italian which is also comparatively low vigor. Many of the J.plums are prone to early death here in my cusp of 5, Z6, but Shiro tends to be a good choice as a long-lived mother variety.

As is often the case, this anecdotal info leaves a lot to be desired and it is hard to separate coincidence from fact. However, I’m quite sure that many red and reddish fleshed J. plums and other CA types are more sensitive to either cold or severe fluctuations than Shiro or Methely.

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I posted this in the grafting thread but my peach grafting this year was not very good. I grafted the same time as Scott and then got surprised by a cold spell. They certainly are much more finicky

I find that I have much better success using thinner wood than thicker
would. Anything as thick as a pencil or thicker never works for me.

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This would be more useful if you’d clarify the statement with some details of your method. Small pieces work well for me when doing clefts, but I can’t imagine why you’d have a problem with larger pieces if you covered the scion wood with something like parafilm. I’m doing hundreds of grafts- it seems like you must be doing something different. Maybe we are both screwing up somehow- me with small wood, you with large- but I use the same methods with both sizes.

By the way, all the grafts I made of the wood you sent me worked fine. With pears, size doesn’t too much matter to me. They are easy.

Ray, I have not noticed a significant difference. My guess is your results are based on how you are grafting. For example with bark grafts and thick scions it can be challenging to get good contact. I solve this with Konrad’s method, use a very thin portion of the scion.

Also, sometimes thin scions are from a weaker (part of) the tree and they are going to be less vigorous wood with lower odds of success. Right now I have late two stone fruit grafts I am waiting on that I did a week ago one fat one thin. The fat one is taking off and the thin one is not.

There’s nothing really to clarify. I bark and cleft graft and
I use the same procedures for all of of my grafts. Thin wood
works for me, while thick wood doesn’t.

That is an absolute clarification. I was speaking only of splice grafts. I agree with you now that I know what you are talking about.

Scott, You store your Scion wood that long?

I usually keep leftover wood until the fall. Its usually still good and you never know when the deer or whatever will munch your grafts to nothing.

Have you ever tried grafting onto new wood when grafting late? I’m trying a couple of persimmon grafts that way that I did about a week ago.

Do you ever try late peach splice grafts with success? I should have kept more wood frozen, especially if grafting on new wood works as I expect it might.

I know this thread is about stonefruit, but I will mention one situation where a larger graft could be better. With pears, where you get almost 100% takes anyways, a longer scion could mean a shorter time until fruiting, Last year I read the above (I don’t remember where, but probably Gardenweb or here). I had lots of wood for some of the ARS varieties and used a foot long scion for one of them (an Asian pear). It’s the only pear graft from last year which bloomed or is carrying fruit this year. Tiny sample, I know, but I may try it more in the future.

I had the opposite problem- I was busy grafting everything else earlier in the spring and by the time I started on peaches, it went from a bit too cold to too hot (80’s). I did most of it on 5/22-5/25, but also tried later on 5/30 and 6/7. My total success rate is under 1%, with 1 take in 109 grafts. I thought I had a few more (still not much), but the tiny leaves died.

In the late May timeframe, I still continued a few apple and plum grafts, as well as lots of mulberry and persimmon grafts, in addition to the peaches. Everything but the peaches met with moderate success. Maybe 2/3 of the apple grafts, unlike the 95%+ I had in late April to early May. The persimmons did very well, though I think I lost several of them by transplanting the stock before it was fully taken.

Of the things grafted in June, I have almost no takes (peaches, apples, plums, etc). The one thing which seems to have worked is the 3 B9 suckers that I grafted to in the relatively dense shade of the canopy. All 3 are working, though I only did it because I had the extra wood and no other use for it. Maybe someone will want them later.

Grapes are the one other fruit that I have very little success with. In fact, I do even worse with them than peaches. Until this year, I had exactly 0 successes. At the moment, I see 1 which may have taken (out of about 20, 10 of them on established stock). I have much better success with grape cuttings (though not as good as currents and gooseberries).

I’m planning to do some budding with grapes. I still have a couple huge Niagra (seeded) vine that I want to turn into seedless. Last year I had 35 pounds of seeded grapes to use and 2 small bunches of seedless. Seems that the animals prefer seedless as well, as I grew a lot more than 2 bunches- just couldn’t harvest them. So I need to keep at it and get it grafted over.

As noted above, I’ve only had a little success grafting in June. Do you continue to do cleft grafts, or do you shift to budding? I was thinking about budding with dormant wood, as well as fresh growth.

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Of course it may have just been the later development of the trees and not the heat (Scott?). Next year maybe you could graft your apples and pears even a bit before they start growing if you don’t want to be caught flat-footed and you have some time early. My apple grafts survived the 17 degree frost quite nicely.

I may never try spring grafting peaches up here. My weather can go from 80Fs to 30Fs like nothing in the spring. Wide temp swings are very common almost every spring. I think i’ll stick to summer budding where i know i can get takes.

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I have done that on grapes with good results. A few years ago I tried it on a Euro plum and it failed. Thats not a whole lot of data…

Up to about now its usually bark or cleft, and into July/Aug its budding.

I think your right. I tried to optimize everything and ended up optimizing the thing that didn’t really need it. Maybe doing it earlier would have pushed apples and pears from 98% to 93%, but doing peaches at the wrong time pushed them from 50% to 1% (so far). . I also bit off a more than I could comfortably chew this spring. Counting the grafts and chips I did earlier today, I just passed the 500 mark for the year. That probably isn’t much to some pro’s, but when you are slow like me and average 5-10 minutes per graft, it is quite a lot. The success with everything else takes a bit of the sting out of the dismal results I had with peach.

Plums can certainly take any weather. I grafted a lot in a misting rain (50-55F on 5/6 and 5/7 and I think a few earlier days too) and had almost complete takes. From late April/Early May, I had only 2-3 plum grafts fail out of ~50, other than 2 varieties where everything failed (6 grafts total- bad wood?)

Thanks Scott. I’m trying a bit of both. Wouldn’t you know it, but the one variety I still had more of today when I reached into the fridge was the same one I have a take on. Well, doesn’t hurt to try for a 2nd :slight_smile:

500 is a lot, I don’t think I did more this year and probably did less. Counting taking out wood, labeling, wrapping- and everything involved, I doubt you will get much below 10 minutes per graft. I’ve not timed myself and have pretty quick hands (for a man, anyway) but I think 5-10 minutes is my ballpark as well. If you are doing 100’s of grafts I think you’ve mastered it about as well as you are going to. It isn’t that physically complicated if you are doing splice grafts.

The take away from all of this is do peaches when the weather is optimum. Everything else can either be done before or after.

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