Going Under the Knife

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Kaitain4, Jan 30, 2009.

  1. mattlwfowler

    mattlwfowler Active Member Maple Society

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    Scion collection can be a bit tricky, but not all that complicated. I've found that somewhat vigorous shoots near the top of the plant on wood from the previous spring gives me the best success. Late summer shoots can work, but they are often damaged by cold and don't have as much energy stored as a spring or early summer shoot. I like 2 or 3 bud pairs, unless it is a dwarf in which case I sometimes go up to 4 pairs. I've found that twiggy thin scion doesn't take as well as fatter stems (although stems fatter than the rootstock are not generally desirable either).

    I'm still working on the post graft care myself as I'm not that experienced in this either. But I can tell you that you need to wean the grafts off of the humid conditions into normal conditions, you don't want to just take the bag off and throw them out in the sun after they leaf out. I don't bag my trees, I just keep my greenhouse at high humidity and keep the tops misted occasionally (and I apply a fungicide for good measure). I definitely have a higher rate of success with bagging, but it is a bit tedious and more time consuming with larger numbers. It also makes the weening process a bit easier because the conditions don't change much until later in spring when I take the plastic off of the sides of the house. Hopefully this helps a little.

    I usually wait at least a couple of weeks after the graft takes to remove the top of the understock. Some dwarf and weak varieties (like some variegates) I wait a bit longer, or I remove the top in two steps. Some people bend the top of the rootstock over and break it just above the graft to encourage a transition of dominance to the scion without complete removal of the stored sugars in the top of the rootstock. This might help push a little more growth and faster healing but I haven't experimented with this enough to know just how effective it is.
     
  2. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Thanks Matt. Fascinating stuff! I should know soon how many of my little beauties will survive. We're coming up on 3 weeks for the first batch.
     
  3. whis4ey

    whis4ey Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Great to hear of a possible success K4
    My own grafting knife has yet to be put into positive action ....... :)
     
  4. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Well, I just did an inspection of my little "preciouses" and I'm happy to report that of the 10 original grafts, 9 are breaking bud!! I am humbled, I am floored, and I am ECSTATIC!! I want to do that 'Toyota Jump' right about now! Woohoo!!!

    Here's what I grafted on 2/7/09:

    A.s. 'Aureum - Full Moon'
    A.p. 'Chishio Improved'
    A.p. 'Crimson Queen'
    A.s. 'Garden Glory' - this was my first graft
    A.p. 'Kasagi yama'
    A.s. 'Moonrise'
    A.p. 'Osakazuki'
    A.p. 'Ueno yama'
    A.p. 'Windover'
    A.p. 'Adrian's Compact'

    Of the 10, only 'Osakazuki' has not broken bud.

    I also checked the 30 or so grafts I did the next week, and about 40% of them are breaking bud!

    OK, I know this is just the start of the process, so now I'm scared to death that I'm going to somehow kill these little things before they even take off. Any pointers? I won't be able to sleep for a month...
     
  5. mapleman77

    mapleman77 Active Member

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    Hey K4!

    I think that I might be able to help you with the aftercare....so here's the best a 15 year old can do!

    Okay, the new grafts will be extremely susceptible to extreme cold, moisture, and heat, not to mention light. So I would, for now, probably keep them where they are right now (which has adequate lighting, yes?) I would also make sure that they are well watered, but not overly soaked. I wouldn't put the grafts in full sun the first whole YEAR. I know that that sounds like a long time but grafting (I've read) is a VERY traumatic process and the saplings need time to recover. I would probably put them under a nice big tree, so that they get light but not direct sun. Also (I'm sure that you've heard this) I would not cut off the whole rootstock at all. I would gradually reduce it throughout the first year. Don't try to do root work either until at LEAST they go dormant this fall/winter, probably not even then. Just try to keep them as comfortable as you can...I'm sure that you will do fine!!!!

    I have great confidence in your young-graft-rearing! I'm so excited for you and hope that they continue to strike as they are now!

    David
     
  6. 01876

    01876 Active Member

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    That’s awesome man! Congrats !
     
  7. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    David,

    I appreciate your thoughts, and your advice for protecting the plants for the first year is sound. However, I know you're not supposed to water the grafts much until they've taken, lest you "drown" the graft with sap. Remember, maples bleed when cut, and you just cut a huge gash in the stem of this little tree when you made the graft. Keeping them on the dry side helps prevent this bleeding from happening (I also cut off the top 8 inches of the rootstock, which helps it bleed out some before I do the graft). What I don't know is how long you have to hold back the water after bud break. When is it safe to water?

    Also, I believe you're supposed to cut off the understock rather sooner than later. If you don't, the understock will out-compete the graft for the resources of the plant. When you do summer grafting you cut off the understock as soon as you make the graft, but this is winter grafting, so its a little different. The trick is to remove it soon enough, but not too soon. I'm thinking maybe a month after bud-break, but I'd like some feedback from someone with experience.

    Thanks again for your encouragement!


    01876,

    Thanks a lot. Its really quite exciting. I feel a little like Dr. Frankenstein - "It's alive! It's alive!!" LOL!
     
  8. mapleman77

    mapleman77 Active Member

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    Hey K4 and all,

    Good information on aftercare, grafting, and in general! I've really enjoyed this topic--and it's something that I hope to do one day (as soon as my own little trees grow enough for me to graft off of!)

    David
     
  9. xman

    xman Active Member

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    K4,

    Congrats!! you obviously did a great job on the grafting, now there is no stopping :)
    I always wanted to try my hand at grafting, but I am really scared to take my addiction to the next level (it is like being able to make your drugs at home).

    xman
     
  10. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Time for an update.

    First, thanks for all the kind words and encouragement from the membership here. I really apprecite you cheering me on during this project. It helps to have moral support!

    Next - things are going well! I've grafted about 170 trees, and at least half of them are sprouting now. I've included some pics of the Studio, which is now CRAMMED with grafted trees! The next pics show some of the successfully sprouted grafts, the star of the show being A.p.'Adrian's Compact'. The bag comes off tomorrow permanently for this guy! (picture file names include descriptions).

    I also made a little slide show showing how I do my grafting. I make no claims as an expert, but it may help someone else to see how I do it. My technique comes mainly from reading and trial and error. Enjoy!

    Maple Grafting Slide Show:
    http://picasaweb.google.com/vincent...?authkey=Gv1sRgCILdoYTdxOyfdg&feat=directlink
     

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    Last edited: Apr 25, 2009
  11. Hartscape

    Hartscape Member

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    Kaitain4,

    I love your slide show, nice work! The 4 trees in leaf, when did you graft those?
    170 trees, wow! I did 50 and so far most all seem to be doing well. Do you plan to sell your trees or will you use all in your landscape?
    The one thing I did a little different, was to place the scion at an an angle to hopefully get a better match of the cambium.
    I can't wait till the leave out. They are my little babies, don't want to lose any.

    Tom
     
  12. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Tom,

    Thanks man! The leafed-out trees were grafted about a month ago. It seems like it takes 2-3 weeks to start showing signs of life, then they take off! There are MANY more leafing out, and its really exciting to watch them sprout. I finished up the rest of the grafts today and there are 182 total. Now its just a waiting game!

    As for the trees - I'll probably keep many of the trees and the rest - who knows at this point? We'll see. I did do quite a few grafts of some trees, including A.s. 'Aureum Full Moon'. I probably have 6 or 7 of those. I heard it was "difficult to propagate", so I did quite a few hoping to increase my odds of at least one making it. Now it looks like all of them will take! I also did up several of Osakazuki, Kasagi yama, and a few others. The rest are only one or two grafts per cultivar, and all of those I did specifically for my own use.

    As for the "angled scion" technique, I used that on some of my grafts. I like to use it on the tiny little scions that are no thicker than a pencil lead. Its hard to match up cambiums on those without a magnifier, so that's an easy way to ensure cambium contact. Actually I tried a variety of techniques and combinations of techniques. I grafted an entire mature branch from a Murasaki kiyohime and its starting to take. Its really cool because it already looks like a miniature tree with side branches, etc! I also tried multiple grafts on the same understock to give it a fuller look. Those are too new to know how they'll do. And then I also tried using some of the little scrap pieces - maybe 1/2 and inch long with 1 or 2 buds - just to see what the limit is on what's enough material to work with. Several of those are sprouting as well. Its been really fun!

    Good luck with your grafting! I hope you don't lose a single one!

    Take care!
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2009
  13. prairiestyle

    prairiestyle Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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  14. paxi

    paxi Active Member

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    Kaitan, Really nice work With the pics. The hair clip seems like a nice touch. I vote that that album be placed in the vaunted sticky section (or alternatively this thread)!
     
  15. Poetry to Burn

    Poetry to Burn Active Member

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    Good Job K4 obviously a labor of love.
     
  16. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Prairie, Paxi and Poetry - thanks for the endorsements!
     
  17. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    UPDATE: Joy and Pain

    We'll start with the pain :-(

    I lost 6 grafts this week, for a variety of reasons. One was fungal attack, which I knew could occur but which I did not want to use chemicals to prevent. Some Acers are just "juicier" than others, and these seem to get fungal attacks easily when the grafts are in the little plastic bags. The ones with fuzzier buds seem to be more susceptible, like Acer robustum and the Shirasawanums. The other problem was trying to graft some less than ideal scions. There were a few I cut from plants that were struggling as a "rescue" effort. This doesn't work. The scions need to be fresh and healthy. The first two pics below are post-mortem pics.

    The JOY is that most of the grafts seem to be taking off! I have several that are out of the baggies completely and are beginning to leaf out and look like trees! This is a good feeling, let me tell you!

    The last two pics are shots of an experimental graft. I had to prune back an 'A.p. 'Murasaki kiyohime' and I decided to graft the entire branch instead of a single stem. So far the results are encouraging! I also tried grafting tiny pieces of scion, and the picture of A.p. 'Seigen' is proof that even those little scraps can turn into a tree! Enjoy! (file names are descriptions)
     

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  18. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    UPDATE: Tent City

    It has become painfully obvious that the little baggies I used to cover the scions are really too cramped once the leaves start to pop out. However, the plant isn't far enough along to be left out on its own, so I devised my own little method to deal with the issue. I call it tenting. All you need are some bamboo Shishkabob skewers (1$ for 100 at Wal Mart) and some 1 gallon baggies with twist ties.
     

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    Last edited: Mar 22, 2009
  19. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

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    Wow, you did great! is it imperative to acclimatise the bud to the elements now, before the foliage is exposed to direct sunlight?
     
  20. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Kbaron

    Yes, you must gradually let the grafted plants adjust. I took the bag off one of them and the leaves started crisping. The graft union has to mature and be strong enough to provide adequate moisture to the top of the plant. So you have to let them fully leaf out and then sloowwwwly wean them off the high humidity environment. I'm gradually lifting the bags higher and higher so the humidity drops slowly and the plant adjusts. I figure I have 3-4 weeks before I can permanently remove the bags.

    Also, at this stage I've cut the understock back to just 1 or 2 internodes so most of the energy is going to the scion. I'll wait a couple of months to cut it back to its final flush-cut with the graft union (using my amazing Bonsai concave pruners - a must!)

    One other thing I did that relates to a previous post - I had 6 graft failures, but I had read somewhere that its a good idea to graft a little high when you first start out so that if you make a mistake you can have a second try. Since I had followed that advice, I was able to cut back the understock and remove the dead scions, then do some new grafts on the same understock. So far its looking good! I would recommend this to anyone just starting out.
     
  21. K Baron

    K Baron Well-Known Member

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    Great post, thank you!
     
  22. mapleman77

    mapleman77 Active Member

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    I agree on the fact that this is one of the best threads for new grafting! I think that I have learned more from this thread than ALL of the other JM grafting articles ever! Thanks so much K4!
     
  23. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    You're welcome, Mapleman and KBaron. Glad it was helpful.
     
  24. whis4ey

    whis4ey Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    A very useful thread indeed
    Well done K4 :)
     
  25. michaelcontessa

    michaelcontessa Member

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    Hay Hi I am interested and new to this and willing to tray! that is how you lern mac
     

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