Winter Grafting

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

  1. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Well, the time has come to start getting ready for winter grafting. This year I decided to make some changes to the basic setup of things that will hopefully yield better results and make things go a little smoother.

    The first change is to use larger diameter rootstock. This year I'm using 1/4" stock, rather than the 3/16" I used last year. I made this decision after talking to Ed Shinn and others about the relationship of the size of the understock to the success of the graft. All agreed that larger is better (more stored food in the plant, better vascular system, etc.) It may not seem like a lot, but that extra little bit of caliper makes a big difference in the plant.

    The other change I made was to buy a decent pot/tray system. These are 4" square pots with matching trays that hold 15 pots each. The trays really make things easier to move around, hold the pots firmly, and these particular trays feature sculptured sides that make getting pots in and out a breeze. Last year was a real pain with my little round pots on cheap aluminum cookie sheets! This is a vast improvement. (see pics)

    So I've been potting up my rootstock from Heritage Seedlings and putting them outside to stay cold. In a few weeks I'll start the process of bringing them all indoors to wake them up and begin the grafting process. In the mean time, I'll be planning which plants to take scions from and getting a general idea of how much wood I can swap with others.

    Stay tuned!
     

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    Last edited: Dec 30, 2009
  2. NJACER

    NJACER Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    K4,

    Glad to hear that things are going well with the prep for grafting. One quick note is that 3/8 inch stock is usually the next size up or larger than 1/4 inch stock. That being said I graft on both sizes. plants that have larger scions I graft on 3/8 inch stock and smaller cultivars I use the 1/4 inch understock. This gives me some flexability. Please note that I am also new at this grafting process and I just do this for fun and to help produce plants for friends and plant auctions.

    good luck and keep us posted.

    Ed
     
  3. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Well I guess I'm showing off my math skills tonight!! Or lack thereof!

    Yes, you are correct. I was using 3/16" stock last year, not 3/8". Thanks for catching my blunder, Ed. :-)

    I corrected the original entry, in case anyone is now wondering if Ed and I have both lost our minds (debatable in my case).
     
  4. 01876

    01876 Active Member

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    Hi K4,
    Thanks for sharing your grafting attempt again.
    I was wondering the potting medium material you use for this 4 “pot? Any change from last year?
    I’d like to try it myself this year; however, my own seedlings are still tiny for rootstocks and Heritage seedling is wholesale only with minimum of $500 which is way too much for me to handle as a hobbyist. Does anyone know where I can get a smaller qty ? Also, did you mention scion swapping? :P

    Good luck with your winter grafting and hope all the changes and efforts will payback.

    I’m looking forward !
     
  5. kbguess

    kbguess Active Member 10 Years

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    01876

    Heritage Seedlings doesn't really require $500 although that is how their requirements read.

    As long as you purchase at least #100 of a particular type seedling you will meet their minimum. This was confirmed to me via email from Heritage a couple of months ago.

    Keith
     
  6. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Keith is correct. I have never ordered $500 worth of anything from Heritage. They are real nice folks to deal with.

    Pacific Cost Nurseries also sells understock (and scions) in smaller quantities.
     
  7. 01876

    01876 Active Member

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    That's great! I'm glad to know that. Thanks a lot Keith and K4
     
  8. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    LET THE GRAFTING BEGIN!!!

    Well folks, after a nasty cold snap that affected most of us negatively, here in the South we are now experiencing exactly the opposite - a warm spell. Temps are supposed to be in the high 50s to low 60s for the next 15 days! And true to form my Japonicums have started to push before anything else in the garden!! So I decided to get a jump on things and do a little early grafting (some of these pics may look oddly familiar! :) A.j. Vitifolium had the honor of being the first graft. If you look closely at the photo you can see the buds starting to break.

    Couple of things to note - I'm using grafting rubbers instead of rubber bands this time. The grafting rubbers are thinner and "floppier". They also have an annoying chalky substance on them that keeps them from sticking together. Other than that they seem fine, and are probably a little easier to work with overall than the rubber bands because they're less prone to springing back, and I think the tension they produce is gentler and more even.

    I'm also using Parafilm in addition to the grafting rubbers. This might be a redundant step but we'll see. I'm bagging as usual - taking no chances.

    And the larger understock is very nice to work with! Much stiffer and "juicier" than the 3/16" stock. The stiffer stem cuts more predictably. This year I'm using what I call the 8-point contact grafting method, where the scion is placed in the understock cut at an angle, with the flap left on, assuring at least 8 points of contact with the cambium layers of both understock and scion. I tried it last year on some of the grafts and it seemed to work well, and its a heck of a lot easier than trying to line up those darned cambium layers on one side! I need a microscope for that method. Anyway, it's the only method I'm using this year, so we'll see how many grafts take as opposed to last year.

    File names are titles. Enjoy!
     

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  9. koiboy

    koiboy Member

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    Hi K4, what's the latest on the grafts? Any updates? I'm about ready to begin my first ever grafting this weekend and am nervous/excited. After completing the grafts I'm putting them in an unheated greenhouse and am hoping that they will be warm enough (my weather is a little bit warmer than yours I think). If you have any more pictures of your grafts in progress please post!
     
  10. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Koi,

    I've got about 75 grafts done so far. So far so good, although my understock bled for a very long time when I cut off the tops this year. I think the bigger pots hold more moisture, so they don't dry out as quickly.

    I'm on the road this week, so I won't be able to post more pics til I get back.
     
  11. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    UPDATE

    The first wave of grafts are done and seem to be doing fine. The oldest grafts are 2 weeks old now, and I don't see any that have turned black (sure sign of death). Of course, they can look fine for a month and then die, but its looking good so far (see pics).

    About this time is when you start seeing the understock sprouting new growth. All of this must be removed as soon as it is noticed so it doesn't use up nutrients stored in the understock (see pics). This becomes almost a daily chore when you have a lot of grafts in the cooker, but its an important one. If you let the understock put out a lot of new growth it will starve the graft and you'll have more failures. Learned this the hard way. I just rub off the sprouts with my fingers - they're very soft.

    Now that the first 75 grafts have been done and are stable, they will be moved to my family room (I got this idea from Diana at Topiary Gardens) to make room for the next 75 grafts to go in the Studio. Last year I was able to cram 180 grafts in the Studio, but they were in tiny pots. Using the new pot/tray system takes up a lot more room, so I can't repeat that this time. So I'll move the 75 understock that have been acclimating on the back porch to the Studio and cut off the tops. They should be ready for grafting this weekend. Then 75 more understock from the side yard will go up on the porch to acclimate. I plan on rotating the plants in the Studio to the family room every 2 weeks until I have all the grafts done. There is a method to my madness! :)
     

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    Last edited: Feb 2, 2010
  12. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    UPDATE

    I moved the 75 grafts from the Studio to the Family Room so I'll have room for the next batch of grafts. I laid down plastic drop-cloths to protect the floor, then covered those with canvas drop-cloths to make it easier to walk on (see pics). I pressed the game table into service as a spot I can move a flat to and work on the plants at a comfortable height. I think I can get over 300 grafts in this space.

    I also moved the next batch of understock to the studio, whacked the tops, and they are now starting to bleed out (see pics). This will get them ready for grafting this weekend. You want them to be relatively dry.
     

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  13. sasquatch

    sasquatch Active Member

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    Thanks for the updates with pics. I just brought my rootstock inside to begin the process.

    Are you using supplemental lighting in the family room for the new grafts? How much (if any) light do the freshly grafted trees need while the graft takes? How much afterwards, while getting established? I know you don't want to put them in direct sunlight, but how little light is enough to stimulate growth in the graft?
     
  14. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Sasquatch,

    I imagine they really don't need much light at all in the beginning, but when they sprout they do need more, as they ARE plants! As you can see, my family room is pretty bright. Besides the glass french doors there are four other large windows in this space. The Studio is also a bright space. They just need fairly bright light, and a little sun on them through a window won't hurt. My windows are Low-E, argon-filled double-pane, so they filter out most of the UV rays anyway. Plus they have screens, which reduces the light a bit more.

    Please keep us posted on your progress! You should be able to graft in a couple of weeks, maybe less depending on the temperature of the space the understock is in, or if your understock is showing active root growth (not top growth). If you lift one out of the pot and see white root tips, you are good to go.
     
  15. koiboy

    koiboy Member

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    K4 are you still just grafting for fun and friends, or are you going to start selling these? Sounds like you've got quite a grafting nursery going.
     
  16. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    In a few years will probably start selling. No big rush - right now its a hobby.
     
  17. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    8-Point Grafting

    I thought I should perhaps explain what I'm talking about by 8-Point Grafting. Its a technique whereby you don't have to line up the cambium layers between understock and scion to get a good graft. See numbered pics below:

    1.) Make the cut in the understock about 1.5" long.

    2.) Make 2 one-inch cuts on the scion, on opposite sides of the stem.

    3.) Insert the scion into the cut on the understock at an oblique angle - the more oblique the better. As you can see from the arrows, this results in 4 points of contact between the cambium layer on the understock and the cambium layer on the scion on each side of the scion (hence, 8-point). See my little orange arrows pointing to the points of contact in this picture.

    4.) Start wrapping the graft with the grafting strip as you normally do, but don't wrap the end of the scion that juts out from the cut in the understock.

    5.) Finish off the wrapping. Keep firm pressure to assure good contact between understock and scion.

    6. & 7.) The end of the scion left protruding from the wrap needs to be cut off flush with the understock.

    8.) Wrap the entire graft with Parafilm. This keeps the graft union from drying out.

    9.) Bag and tag the graft as you normally would.

    .
    This method is great for small to medium caliper scions, but if the scion is close to the diameter of the understock, its better to use the traditional method where you align one side of the scion with the cambium of the understock.
     
  18. sasquatch

    sasquatch Active Member

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    So it sounds like you've had good success getting your grafts to take using this 8 point method. I wonder though, Will they end up as strong and vigorous as a traditional style side veneer graft? It's good to have this option available for the smaller scion, but it sounds like you feel the traditional graft is superior.
     
  19. koiboy

    koiboy Member

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    Hi K4, thanks for providing the pictures. I was wondering what an 8 point looked like. I'm curious though, is the parafilm necessary? Do you use it with your normal grafts?
     
  20. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Sasquatch,

    I think this method is as strong or stronger than the traditional side veneer. If you look at the picture carefully, you'll see that the flap on the understock will actually re-connect at the top of the cut once the grafting strip is tied on. So in essence it makes a "pouch", with the scion completely enclosed in wood from the understock. I think this would make it harder for the graft to separate later on, not easier. An old-timer in Alabama uses this method and that's where I got the idea from. He has had great success with it over many years.

    The reason you can't use this method for large caliper scions is because the diameter of the wood creates too large a gap between understock and scion.


    Koi,

    Parafilm isn't "necessary", but I think its worth using. Last year I tried all sorts of methods, including dipping the graft in parafin. Parafilm is much easier. The bags help of course, but I think extra protection of the graft union helps the success rate. That tiny little bit of tissue connecting the two parts together cannot dry out for a minute or the graft is ruined, so I don't like to take chances.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 12, 2010
  21. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Sasquatch,

    Just for informational purposes, I'm including pics of a 1 year old grafted tree which was grafted with the 8-point method. In the closeup you can see the little bulge at the side where the end of the scion stuck out (red arrow). Back then I didn't trim it off. Anyway, this should give you a sense of how well the grafts take and how prone to failure they might be. They seem pretty sturdy to me.
     

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  22. campbtl

    campbtl Member Maple Society

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    I remember seeing this '8 point grafting method' on a camellia society website out of Mobile AL several years ago. They were using it, obviously, on camellia grafts and claimed great success with it. But then, that's a different animal.
     
  23. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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  24. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    UPDATE

    I have done a number of double-grafts (see pics). They should work OK, but I had more failures when I tried this last year. So this time I'm being sure to graft on opposite sides of the stem. I think this allows for a better flow of sap to each graft (the plumbing system in plants is relatively simple, after all). Last year it seemed like the upper graft failed a lot, and I'm thinking this might help.

    I'm also happy to announce some of the first BUD BREAKS on my new grafts!! This is always an exciting event, but by no means guarantees the success of the graft. I've had plenty that broke bud and then never went much further in their development. Still, this is what you're dying to see - signs of life! These grafts are about 3 weeks old, which seems to be the norm before you start to see this. The next 2 weeks should see dozens of such events.

    Lastly is a shot of the humidifier I bought. Necessary when doing grafts in a dry, heated house. I bought this one because the water resevoir holds 8 gallons! Nice!
     

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    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 12, 2010
  25. maples4all

    maples4all Member

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    K4, it's really a pleasure following your detailed documentation.

    I tried several grafting methods with Japanese Maples myself at different times of the year varying in success. Rightnow I have several grafts lying in a hot-callus-pipe in a cold garage.

    Inspired of your documenation I now want to try indoor grafting again this year.
    Therefore I would like to ask you to support us with some additional information about understock preparation. Studying literature about grafting JM, so called "conditioning" of understock prior to grafting seems to be very important - "drying of" for instance. My questions are as follows: How long and in wich temperature-steps do you acclimatize understocks. What's the temperature indoors during and after grafting? Do you start grafting not before active root growth is visible?

    Thank you and sorry for mistakes I'm not so familiar with the English language.
     

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