Thursday, April 16, 2015

Grafting Workshop--2015

This year's grafting workshop was hosted at the Extension office in Albuquerque with hort agent (and new club member) Graeme Davis, pictured with Dwight Luna.
The group was smaller this year, so we got to try a couple of new techniques beside the splice or whip graft. The second shows a successful whip from the previous year's workshop. It's just beginning to leaf out at my altitude.
The EMLA 111 rootstock we used this year was fairly thick and hard, making it a little harder to use. With a whip graft, it's important to fully match the cambium layers (the thin green layer under the bark). We were able to all try Dwight's grafting tool--it cuts both the scion and the rootstock. We also tried hand cutting tongue and groove types of grafts. But the most exciting was learning the chip bud method. This is Dwight's go to technique. It can be done on planted stock throughout the summer, so I'm saving scionwood to work some of my in ground trees.

It's not critical to fully match the cambium layers with a chip bud graft; getting a good alignment on one side usually works well. 
Dwight removed the selected bud from the scion roughly half an inch above and below the bud, then repeated the process on the rootstock. He supports the wood so he can make a controlled cut.
When wrapping the graft, it's important to only cover the bud with one layer of tape so it can break through when it begins growth. (you'll notice it's also important to cover your finger with tape--where you think the blade may hit if you pull too hard!)There are a number of methods used to bind the graft, but I really like this stretchy tape because it's easier to handle than say the rubber bands, and holds up well in weather. But folks use everything from electrical tape to plastic wrap.
One fun thing--we used the chip bud graft to make espaliers! I put a Scarlet and Bullseye Gala on one, and strawberry and Lodi on another. I think I'll let the top of the root stock grow out, and bud two more on each next year. You can also work over old stock. One of our members had only four trees, but they were grafted with dozens of varieties of apples.

Two other tips that Dwight shared with the class that I think are very important to pass along--
1) Bundle up your completed grafts and put them all together in a tall container with the soil as high as the top of the grafts--this protects them from drying. I potted some of mine individually last year, and used Dwights technique on the rest. The buried ones had the best survival rate by far. Repot them when the scion breaks bud (I left mine in most of the summer, and they did fine).

2)--tag your grafts. He cuts up soda can and impresses the name of the scion instead of writing in ink or pencil. This has been the most reliable way of tagging that I have ever used.
And the last photo is a grape from the grape scionwood exchange in March. 

If you missed the workshop, Dwight will be having another one at the Self-Reliance Fair on May 2nd in Edgewood. (  for complete schedule of booths, classes, and other events).

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