What is the latest you can graft apples?

It’s already passed the middle of April and I’m still waiting on some scion wood. Is there a general rule of thumb for when it’s too late or warm to continue grafting?

I’m not sure there is an absolute limit. But, the success rate drops off a lot after mid-late May.

In past summers, I’ve been working on improving my Chip and T budding. But the results are still pretty bad, so i like to throw a few cleft grafts in as well. I’ve had cleft grafts work even into August. That is with new wood- I think the latest I’ve successfully grafted dormant wood is early July.

To lessen the extreme temps, you may want to wrap the graft with foil, shiny side out.


thanks @BobVance, good info. I’ve been using the whip and tongue graft almost exclusively…trying to master style one before moving on to another…although I recently tried a cleft graft on a pear, but the jury is still out as to whether that will take…

so the later you try to graft dormant wood the less chance of success? Some of the scions I’ve recently grafted were showing signs of leafing when I got them…is that a problem?

Figure I’ll keep trying with whatever wood I get and if it works great, if not I’ll know for future reference.

Yeah, it is, but it’s not an absolute. The issue seems to be that if the scion is trying to grow on its own it will use up its available moisture before the graft knits, and then will dry out and die. So it helps to be extra thorough in terms of anti-dehydration measures -parafilm, wax, baggies, aluminum foil, whatever you think will help.


Thanks @marknmt, this was with a pear. Not sure that it makes any difference. Haven’t experienced it with an apple scion yes, but I’ll keep those anti-dehydration measure in mind.

I did successful whip and tongue grafts with dormant scions to an established tree last September.


good to know, not sure how successful I’ll be down here in August or September. It’s still hot as blazes…figure I’ll give it a try anyway.

I don’t recommend grafting that late, but the question was “what is the latest you can…”.

Is this the same for trying to graft dornant scions onto active growing stock? Can I do this or do I need both to be dormant?

Last year, I’ve made about dozen apple grafts April 28-29. I’m in California, so it was already pretty hot (but scions were from NorthWest Cider Supply in Oregon and appeared very fresh). All cleft grafts, 100% took.

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Active stock, dormant scion is the optimal condition for “winter-grafting-technics” as cleft, splice, whip and tongue, bark grafting…

Although there might be better times of the year to graft this thread is showing that we are not limited time wise as much as previously thought we were.

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Last year, out of desperation, I did several bark grafts in late September. I got some apple scions from far away as a present. 4 different varieties, growth from the same year, leaves already snipped of. The scions travelled one week at room temperatur (20°C). All I had available as a rootstock was a small apple tree on M9, bark too thick to try t-budding or chip-budding. I cut some laterals of and bark grafted. Sealed the whole scion with parafilm. I did every variety twice to double my chances. Guess what, 100% of the grafts took. They are leafing out now.

Of course that was not the optimal timing to do so, but -at least with apples- you can try with reasonable chances to succeed.


In my experience, and I believe I have seen it confirmed, many apples can be touchy about water
As in, if they get a dry spell, even a short one, they can stop growing vigorously for the year. With that in mind, if you have to graft late, I would recommend really staying on top of water and probably fertilizing to promote vegetative vigor.

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Awesome thankyou

Grafting dormant scion to actively growing stick is the ideal situation. Gives you the best odds.

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I’ve never really understood this principle because if the scion would try and use up its moisture and thus die, then why do chip buds not do the exact same when they are done? I’m only a beginner in this field and I find a lot of the “rules” heavily contradictory… :pensive:

Chip buds can be done dormant. And usualy heal and are supply by the rootstock when leafing out.

You can also do a summer chip bud. But than you cut the leaf off. But you can leave the leaf-stalk.

Due to the limited evaporation from the leaf stalk. And the fact that the bud on the summer chip bud stays dormant almost by default. Makes it work so well.

Think about it, the scion you use for summer chip budding, came from a tree. And the bud your chipping is one that also grows on the tree without leafing out, till after the winter at least.

It changes however if you cut the stock above your summer chip bud. Than your overriding the dormancy and forcing it to grow a shoot.

But the hormones that force the shoot growth, come from the stock. And don’t reach the chip bud until it’s properly healed. And when it’s healed it doesen’t dry out since the stock can also supply water.


Oscar said it perfectly well, but to reiterate:

The bud or chip are dormant when placed and then they are wrapped up to prevent drying out. They stay dormant, as Oscar said, until you remove the dominant bud above them.

But in cleft or whip/whip and tongue and the like the dominant bud is removed in the process of making the graft.

As long as the callous forms, the graft or chip or bud gets everything it needs from the root stock. But if the callous doesn’t form they will all fail.


thank you so much for your reply it does kind of make slightly more sense than before. you both have definately helped. so when the side cleft graft is done, if it was done in the height of the summer when all the other trees are growing and green, the fact that you have cut the top of the tree off, leaving only a stump has stopped the sugers etc returning to the roots and giving the scion a helping hand next spring. i fully understand that much. if the operation is chip budding then the tree is still growing as a tree even though you have operated on it. it has its own leaves etc and you are going to decapitate it later when the sugers have returned to the roots etc i also understand that too. i just felt confused because i thought that ‘healing’ was healing regardless of the season. in a stange wasy i sort of feel like summer budding is like the tree thinking ‘‘oh ive scraped my knee, no worries ill heal that but i can keep growing’’ whereas cutting its head off in the growing season etc is like a major broken bone etc and that is a major job to heal.