I had a real disappointment today, when I investigated a couple of grafts that looked so promising last year.
They were on a shared cleft graft I did last spring, and they both grew vigorously. I resisted messing with them: didn’t shorten or prune them, didn’t do any frost burn protection in the fall, didn’t touch the graft wrapping. Now I’m wondering of that was a mistake.
They weren’t showing signs of growth this year, so today I checked the bark – no green at all. So I cut away the wrapping, and discovered it was totally dead and diseased inside. I didn’t have parafilm last year, I used some other stretch tape that seemed to work well otherwise. But looking closely, I suspect there may not have been complete seal on top, although I did use some grafting wax there as well. But I’m wondering: does leaving wrapping on a graft too long promote growth of disease or fungus?
I have parafilm now, and I used it for the first time this year. So far so good. But now I have a question: How long after a graft “takes” should we leave wrapping on?
FWIW, we’ve had a late spring this year, and nothing is in blossom yet (well, maybe some poplars), but I’m seeing lots of buds.
Sorry to hear about your graft failure. I haven’t had the issue but I do imagine that your wrap had something to do with it. Generally there is, as far as I know, no advantage to leaving the wrap into dormancy, but at least with some combinations (grafting rubbers and parafilm, for example) it isn’t necessary to remove wrapping because they’ll degrade and split in the sun by fall anyway. Sometimes I get carried away with the temflex and make a point of slicing and peeling that back from the graft in the fall.
Marks sense to me. Sunlight is a powerful disinfectant and dry is better than damp when it comes to fungus!
Thanks! I’ve never used rubbers, but aren’t those more for holding scions in place?
They also help to provide tight cambium contact, which is important to grafting success. There are other ways to to achieve this, such as heavier wrapping materials.
You don’t need rubbers, but I’ve got them and they work fine. Mine are fairly wide and long, and I think this is what I bought:
Of the four options listed I think I got the 1/4" wide by 6" long. A quarter pound is a lot. To close a cleft or a whip and tongue you catch the standing end under the running end, wrap with the running end until you are nearly out of rubber, and then catch the end under the last wrap. Doesn’t take much practice before you have it mastered! then seal the whole thing up with parafilm. Or, you can do it the other way - seal it first with parafilm and bring it up snug with the rubber. Just seems to make sense to me to cinch first, seal second, but I think it’s done both ways.
It’s easier with temflex, but like I said I get carried away with temflex sometimes, and I’ve got all these derned rubbers …
I like that approach.
You know, I sometimes think somebody should make like a bullet-point or check list of dos and don’ts for grafting. There are a lot of little details you need to get right. Every time I learn another thing I shouldn’t have overlooked!
It’s one thing to have videos and blogs and essays, but sometimes you don’t so much need a how-to. You really just need a checklist.
I’m sure that you could put that together just by searching this forum!
The problem with that is the way that works well for one person might not work well for another. I’m still a newbie with grafting but have had really good success with the following:
- Graft at the right temperature for the species - but then again I didn’t follow this rule for plums and got 93% take rate
- Wrap the entire scion in parafilm BEFORE grafting
- Use cleft grafts and try to get very good cambium alignment on one side
- Wrap over the graft union with parafilm and then wrap over it again with electrical tape as tight as possible without losing cambium alignment
- Cover the entire scion and graft union with foil until it starts leafing out
- Avoid touching or disturbing the grafted scion for as long as possible
- Remove electrical tape after the scion has one foot of growth
That’s a really nice start. Questions:
- Covering the entire scion with parafilm is an intriguing idea. I didn’t do that. I wonder if I can do it on cleft grafts after grafting. FWIW, I once tried a recommendation to coat the entire scion in paraffin wax. Didn’t work well at all. If I was going to add one thing to a list of “don’ts”, it would be not to get grafting wax or linseed oil anywhere the union, as it interferes with initial sap flow to the scion.
- If you cover the entire scion and graft union with foil, how can you tell when it starts leafing out?
- What if the scion doesn’t get one foot of growth in the first year?
- You mention temperature. Are you referring to overnight? Here it still sometimes gets down to almost (and possibly below) frost at night, but today it was nearly 70F in the daytime. Is there some sort of master list of temperatures, and how do you measure them?
- I’ve lately changed my thinking on temperature, but I then get a lot of failures, and I think climate gets overlooked a lot. We’re barely zone 3, and we get cold dry winds. Plums aren’t common here, especially not grafted ones, so I pretty much stick to apples. This year I collected scions as late as I could before the buds started to swell (so I didn’t have to store them too long), and waited until the sap was flowing well, as in starting to leaf out, before grafting. Did I screw up?
I’d love it if folks could work together to maybe contribute to a master checklist…
Like @dimitri_7a said, the way that works for one may not work for others due to several variables such as a condition of a tree, scion wood, weather, etc. The more you graft, the better you will be good at it.
Your zone alone makes it challenging for field grafting. Here is one of many threads about grafting that may help.
I think a person has to mess up a few to learn when is to early to remove. Some wrappings can stay on until the scion is dormant and some are constricted and need immediate removal. Sometimes the scion needs support for a while. Tough love is about the only way to learn but I think more scions are lost due to early wrap removal.
Doesn’t sound like your saying anyone recommends leaving wrap on over winter.
It depends on what you used to wrap it. I use Temflex. I stretch it well before wrapping. That way, it is not too thick. It is very stretchy and biodegradable. I leave them on until it breaks down. It can be over a year.
If you wrap with a material that does not disintegrate well such as garden tape, you need to cut it by the fall so it tape won’t girdle the graft union.
Temflex can be stretched very thin, and I need to stretch it thinner when I use it. I think @Olpea cuts it lengthwise before wrapping, and he may even manage to overlap when wrapping.
I’m not familiar with Temflex. I just spent more than I wanted to on Parafilm, not in a hurry to throw it away now – seems pretty good, except that I think I used too many layers (learning, and I have a lot now).
How does Temflex compare to Parafilm?
Temflex is a rubber type electrician’s tape that is nonadhesive but which will adhere to itself with pressure. It does not breath, is dark and opaque, and is inexpensive and readily available at big box stores. https://www.lowes.com/pd/3M-Temflex-2155-Rubber-Splicing-22-ft/3129711 Temflex will eventually degrade in sun, but is too heavy, imho, to wrap the scion itself with. It should not be confused with the plastic electrician’s tapes https://www.lowes.com/pd/Scotch-700-Electrical-Tape-66-ft/50148224 nor with friction tape https://www.lowes.com/pd/Utilitech-30-ft/3659406, neither of which will degrade in the sun very quickly, if at all.
Parafilm you are familiar with.
I use parafilm to wrap all my scions as soon as I get them, and I leave it on when I graft. After pulling the graft snug with a grafting rubber or rubber band or temflex I cover the graft with parafilm, being sure to wrap far enough up the scion to cover the joint, but not so far that I work the scion free from the graft - that’s the main reason I like to wrap the scion before I graft. @barkslip mixes parrafin and mineral oil, irrc, and dips his scions. But then, he does them by the hundreds, at least, and I do a dozen here and there.
If I have any doubt about how well I’ve covered with parafilm I dab a little johnny wax over the questionable spots.
Some of the others use a product that you don’t need to remove. I use parafilm and snug it tight with the cheap plastic electric tape. I like to remove or at least put a relief slit in the tape before winter.
I use the Temflex and I split it lengthwise also. When it is stretched it is probably no wider than the rubbers but I do slightly over lap it. It will split with scion growth and doesn’t girdle. In fact buds will break through it. It also adheres a bit to the parafilm so on the ones that I have removed in the fall it all comes off in one layer. It’s sold at Lowe’s for less than $3 a roll and one roll lasts a long time especially if you split it. I attempted to order it on amazon and it was almost $7 there so don’t try to get it that way. I wrap my scion with parafilm and then wrap the graft union good with parafilm. I put the Temflex over the top to pull it tight and strengthen the support. When I first started grafting (and it hasn’t been that long ago…) I played around with what I used but I’m pretty comfortable now and wrap everything the same way.
I actually used something very much like Temflex on these grafts that failed. Should have removed it before fall I guess.
This is my first time with parafilm, it seems to stick to itself pretty well. But I think I might try to remove some, as I wrapped multiple layers.
Occurs to me parafilm might make a decent frost burn/sunscald protection for young grafts over winter, to protect them from desiccation — our winters here tend to be cold and dry, and then Chinooks blow in to warm above freezing and are even drier.