Between January 29 and February 25, I took scion wood and grafted onto my deciduous fruit trees. I used the whip method for all nine grafts, and seven of the nine are growing today.
Over the last year, I’d planted four new deciduous fruit trees, but I wanted more varieties and I wanted an extended harvest period. So I decided to graft at least one extra variety onto each tree. I now have two varieties of apricot on one tree; a nectarine tree with two additional peach varieties on it; a pluot tree with an additional pluot and a plum; and an apple tree with two varieties.
For most of the grafts, I completed the work on the very same day that I cut scion wood, but for two of them I kept the scion wood in the fridge for a period of time before grafting. One of these refrigerated grafts didn’t take, but the other did. Therefore, I can’t say it made much difference how “fresh” the scion wood was.
I matched the size of the scion wood to the size of the stock and made diagonal cuts that matched in length. Then I wrapped them together with green nursery tape — a simple “whip” graft. Before the grafting, I had cut the scion wood to two buds beyond the diagonal cut and wrapped them in parafilm. (For one of the peach grafts I cut to only one bud and it took just fine. In the future, I may always use only one bud.)
No grafting expert am I. Last year, I followed the same procedure on another peach tree and it worked so I repeated. That’s the extent of my experience and skill level regarding deciduous fruit tree grafting. The magic seems to be only in the timing and the matching of scion to stock so that the cambium layers connect.
Why did two of the nine grafts fail? I’d guess I just didn’t get a tight and direct contact between the cambium layers of the scion and stock. That half of the magic wasn’t there.
But my success rate of seven out of nine surprises me, and it tells me that the grafting process is something that anyone can do well.
Here is a detailed slide presentation on grafting by Chuck Ingels of the University of California Cooperative Extension. Incidentally, this presentation also talks about “budding,” which I had success with on a peach last year as well. Budding is an even easier technique than grafting in many ways, and so I’ll likely try more of it this summer.