Monday, March 4, 2013

Explorers Graft

Dwight goes over the basics
About a dozen members of our New Mexico Fruit Explorers group met for our first grafting workshop. A few of us were pretty expert, a few had dabbled and the rest were novices, but everyone came away with something, knowledge as well as some exciting bench grafts.

Dwight Luna, our host and founder, showed members some of the tools he uses for grafting including a nifty saddle graft cutter that we all got to try out (takes a bit of hand strength). Mostly though we concentrated on cutting whip grafts--not as easy as it looks. We had a variety of cutting edges, but many of us found that as we drew the knife through the wood, the cut inevitably curved instead of giving us a nice straight slice. Patrik demonstrated his pruning knife--beveled only on one edge--it cut smoothly and left an even surface. With practice we were able to get two nice slices, matching the cambiums on the scion and the Bud 9 rootstock for some hopeful grafts. The Bud 9 is a super dwarfing rootstock, and nice for espaliers.
Keeping the slices lined up while they were fastened was also tricky. Several members tried rubber bands, but most seemed to find the stretchy grafting tape easier to control.

And what a great selection of scionwood! Members shared scions from apples that included standards like Jonared, Rome, Northern Spy, and heritage apples like Belle de Boskoop, and Cox's Orange Pippin--and then there were some that were unfamiliar to most members like the Strawberry. Dwight has collected wood from old New Mexico trees that are difficult to identify. He shared scions from one he simply called the Ft Sumter apple, from a very old tree. Others were taken from an old remnant orchard in Cedar Crest.

A good day, and as Dwight said "only a small amount of blood was shed!"

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