It’s 28 degrees in zone 6 today. I’m thinking of taking scionwood cuttings on Sunday. Good idea? Bad idea?
I think the only drawback is that you have to keep them stored all winter, and the tree does a pretty good job of storing them for you. But people have certainly managed it, keeping scions from one year until late summer of the next, and probably longer. And it’s easier to do it before the snow gets deep and the March winds are blowing.
But what will you do for drama?
I usually collect my scions during late winter pruning, which to me is late March. Still, I have stored scions in the fridge for 3-4 months before without detriment to their quality. Do you have a good reason why you want to collect now?
Scionwood of what, you mean apples?
Recommend waiting until late winter just before any bud swelling to assure you have fresh dormant scions, requiring the least storage time. It’s a good idea if you want to cut scions in future years to keep a bud swell calendar and record the date you observe buds swelling to give you an estimate for planning the activity in future years. Once buds begin to swell the scion becomes unusable. You calendar can be very helpful to plan scion collection as well as spring grafting.
Apple, pear, peach, elderberry, honeyberry… you name it.
Well, I would like to send some trades out early. Late winter/spring is very busy for me…right now, not so much.
I still haven’t ironed out the requirements of most common species, but it seems as though peaches can suffer from storage conditions that don’t set back apples and pears. I take my stonefruit scions in very late winter or very early spring to reduce storage stress after discovering that peach buds can easily rot in storage, but that was probably the result of over-wrapping them. I now store them loosely in a ziplock with a moist rag outside that and a loose garbage bag outside that in a fridge without defrost.
Nothing scientific, but my percentage of peach takes has vastly improved since I stopped wrapping wood tightly in stretch wrap. I only discovered the problem because of an off smell coming from some peach scion wood out of storage.
It’s so much work to wrap in plastic wrap too! I am going to stop doing that and wrap as you suggested this year. I get trades packed as you described and I don’t see any difference in how I’ve been storing them (wrapped) and the ones that are not wrapped.
Yes, I’ve stopped doing it for all my scion wood. I mean, old timers used to store wood in snow outdoors after gathering it up from wood exposed to the outdoors for a few days. Rot can be a problem although I admit that I never used Clorox to alleviate it before I wrapped scions. That might have helped- but I have way too much to do for unnecessary work. Some here wrap each piece of wood with parafilm which I would never do- it even makes the grafting itself more time consuming dealing with it when cutting pieces to graft.
I’m up to about 80% takes with peaches which is much better than what I used to get. Simplest of splice grafts only.
I started doing that with apple and pear scions because I understood that scions should be wrapped to prevent dessication after they are grafted and before the joint heals. But given what you’re saying it may be wiser to wait until grafting, or it may not even be necessary at all. And it may be more useful to me in the arid west than to you in the humid east.
But if it is a good idea for me to wrap the scions at some time I prefer to do it before grafting because it doesn’t wiggle around in the union that way.
I use electric tape to wrap scion to tree shoot. I use as close to same diameter pieces as I can which prevents any wiggling as I wrap. I usually have lots of wood, which is a great advantage when matching diameters. The many pounds of scion wood I collect mostly goes unused so it would be absurd to pre-wrap it.
Why should scion wood dry out in storage if you make sure there’s plenty of humidity via a moist rag between open air and the bag with scion wood- that is a moist rag in the bag outside of the one loosely holding scion wood?
It certainly doesn’t seem to be an issue of you don’t store wood for more than about 2 months, which I seldom do.
I don’t think it should. I was making a habit of wrapping my (very few) scions as soon as I brought them in just so that it would be done come grafting season. But given your experience it may not help and may hurt.
I often cleft graft to stock 2 or 3 times the size of the scion -thumb size and a little larger- and messing up the alignment when wrapping the scion after grafting irked me. But I don’t really know if wrapping the whole scion at all is useful as long as the cut tip is sealed.
I don’t think you have to worry about rotting apple buds like you do with peach buds- wrap away.
These anecdotal experiences can only take one so far, maybe my fridge let the scions get too warm, or something else. The fridge I use is a very cheap one (expensive ones all have automatic defrost, which, of course, is like a de-humidifier) and temps may not be dependable, although it’s in a cool basement and I keep at just about freezing. Seems to hold that temp pretty well.
I think it helps- I’ve started doing it for at least some of any scions I particularly value.
It’s particularly important for wood that is going to be kept around for a long time, like persimmon. Persimmon may need to be cut early, to ensure that it isn’t damaged by a low temp in Jan/Feb. And it is often the last thing to graft in the spring- May or June. That means it needs to survive up to 5-6 months in the fridge.
A couple winters ago, I saved some with parafilm on, in the same bag as bare wood. The ones with the parafilm came through much better, as you can see in this pic.
For me, it is a big time saver during grafting season. It’s a question of wrapping when I get the wood during the winter, or wrapping the wood in the field when I’m about to graft. Or, in the garage, when preparing to go out in the spring, which I sometimes do if it is cold out.
I agree with Mark- I always wrap with parafilm before joining the graft. Even if I have a reasonably good union (no guarantee, as I’m still a bit of a hack at the physical crafting part, even after a few thousand grafts), there is no sense in working it back and forth while applying parafilm. I apply the parafilm everywhere but the union, join the graft, then apply a bit of parafilm over the rubber tape holding the union.
While especially valuable for persimmons, I don’t think it would matter much for apples and pears. I was at 95%+ success with them, even before I started doing this. And I don’t graft many of them anymore anyways. But, I still do a few peaches/nectarines (about 20 this past spring) and pre-parafilming seems to help there as well. I didn’t get an exact count this year on the takes, but it was at least 75% and probably higher. I had some years in the 30-40% (and one year of roughly 0%) back when I just put the scions in a wet bag in the fridge.
I wouldn’t say I have overwhelming evidence to prove this (fully controlled tests, large sample, different lengths of time, wood source, etc). But I’ve completely satisfied myself that it is well worth the effort (for me), at least for wood that I really want to get a take of. And even for wood that I can easily replace, it is a nice-to-have and generally worth it when I’m sure I’ll use it. No sense in wasting parafilm and time if I’m not sure I’ll use the wood…
The persimmon photo is convincing, although you didn’t explain how the brown centered one was stored. Did you store the way I do, in a fridge without defrost and loosely double bagged with a moist cloth that never dried out within the second bag? Also, the real question is the relative health of the cambium. Of course, it would be nice to know what the scions looked like before storage as well.
I used a couple of your wrapped pieces of scion wood and everything I grafted took, I believe- three out of three- two nects, one pluot. But the tape did get in the way when I was cutting the wood, and wrapping after grafting with Buddy Tape doesn’t add much time- writing labels takes more. you still need to cover the tips of the grafts if you pre-wrap.
What you say about long storage in our climate makes sense. Certain types of native and hardy Asian persimmons due tend to get new wood damage over winter or perhaps in early spring. Hard to know when such damage occurs and in apricots cambiums can be killed after mild winters, presumably from hard frosts in early spring.
Hmm. I’ve been leaving a bit of parafilm at the end to twist up tight for that. But for apples and pears I do aren’t too picky.
I keep wood in lengths to do about 3 grafts per, which gives me more options for diameter of individual grafts. The simplest grafts to do are always the ones where diameter are an almost a perfect match and are also the ones likeliest to heal fastest- where the cambium lines up on both sides.
Not an expert, but in my experience, having oxygen available to the stored scions is just as important as moisture. Pecan is particularly picky about how to store scionwood. I wrap 4 or 5 sticks with a damp paper towel and put in a labeled ziploc bag. The bag is deliberately sealed with air so that it is puffed up just a tad. Each month in storage, I take the bags out, open, verify moisture and re-dampen if needed, then close and leave in the refrigerator veggie drawer until used.
There are a couple of studies online about storing pecan scionwood that are worth reading. There were particularly bad effects from cutting scionwood just after a hard freeze. It stores better and gives more takes if scionwood is taken after 48 hours of above freezing temperatures. It MUST be fully dormant. If buds have expanded, very few grafts will take.
I’ve been storing all my wood in a fridge dedicated to scionwood (at that time of year- I air it out first). I put a damp piece of paper towel in with the wood in a 1 gal zip lock bag. Sometimes, I have the bag in another bag, though not always and I’m not sure if I did for that one.
A member sent me the persimmon wood. He sent me far more than I needed, so I wrapped half in parafilm and kept the other half bare. Both were tied up with a twister in the same bundle. I did this for the 4-5 varieties that he sent me, 4-6 sticks per variety. Not all the bare wood was bad, but there were several like that one and a few that were kind-of-bad. None of the wood in the parafilm looked dry. I didn’t even try to graft the dry wood, but almost all of the parafilmed wood took.
For Asian persimmons (the good ones IMO…) I would need to take wood either in December or the first week of Jan (depending on weather) to avoid iffy lows. Parafilm seems to extend the life of the wood through May, In the case of the persimmons from the pic, they were sent from a more Southern area in Feb, but if I took the wood, it would add 1-2 more months to the storage requirement.
I generally just cut right through it, both with pruners when separating the wood into 1-2 bud sections and with a razor when cutting the wedge for a cleft graft. Though I probably rip away any loose parafilm- it’s such a quick activity that I don’t even recall it, but logically I must either rip it away or push it up a bit (letting it adhere to itself).