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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    Maples,

    My understock is potted in 4" pots and stored outside in an unprotected location. About 3-4 weeks before grafting I bring them onto an unheated porch. This lets them begin to dry out a little, and the porch is warmer and protected from the wind. In fact, once I move them to the porch they will get no more water til after grafting.

    About 10 days to 2 weeks before grafting I bring them into the Studio, which is heated to 60-65 degrees F (15-18 degrees celsius). After a few days in the warmth I cut the tops off to about 18" and allow them to bleed. At this point the understock look like bare sticks - no side limbs. Still no watering!

    About 5 days before grafting I cut off a few more inches from the top of the stem and let them bleed again. By the time I'm ready to graft, the bleeding should have stopped and the potting soil in the pots should be somewhat dry. Do not graft if the plants are still bleeding - its a sure way to kill a graft. The pots should feel relatively light when you pick them up, but the soil doesn't have to be bone dry. In fact, its better if its not bone dry.

    At this point you can lift a few understock out of their pots to see if any new, white roots are showing. If there are, this is a good sign and they are ready for grafting. If not, you can wait a while longer or go ahead and graft - your preference. I've had success with understock that had no white roots showing. If they've been warming up for 3 weeks or so they should be ready.

    After grafting I do not give the plants any water for a week. After a week I do give them a few sips of water - 3-4 tablespoons to a 4" pot. I water them like this twice a week for the next 4 weeks. I also mist them a couple of times a day. The idea is to keep just a tiny amount of moisture in the soil until the grafts have healed. Once the grafts start sprouting I slowly begin giving them more water. Not much at first - gradually increase. As the leaves unfurl and the plant gets larger increase the watering, but always stay on the conservative side. 8 to 12 weeks after sprouting, the plants should really be leafing out well and can be put on a normal watering schedule. If frost danger is past, I put mine outside in dappled shade where the automatic sprinklers can water them with the rest of my plants.

    Hope this helps!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 12, 2010
  2. maf

    maf Well-Known Member Maple Society

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    Nice to read all your posts in this thread K4, thank you, I remember your grafting slideshow from last year too. Sometimes the grafting of Acers is shrouded in a little mystery but it is refreshing to see all the stages as they happen and to hear all the practical advice, not all of which would be anticipated, especially the correct preparation of the rootstock.

    I see you are still using the disposable knives, was it you who tried a Japanese grafting knife and didn't get on with it? (Apologies if I'm thinking of someone else). The western style grafting knives like Tina etc can take and keep a sharp edge well, and feel comfortable to hold, if you ever feel like changing or trying something different. I always prefer to keep and cherish a high quality tool for years, or even decades, than to use the throwaway equivalents, but perhaps that is just old fashioned?

    Take care, good grafting, and keep the updates coming.
     
  3. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Maf,

    Thanks, and you're welcome.

    And yes, I did try a Japanese grafting knife, and also a Tina and a couple of others. For some reason the razor knives work best for me.
     
  4. sasquatch

    sasquatch Active Member

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    Thanks for your replies and additional info Kaitain. I'll be trying the 8 point method as needed. My rootstock are inside (in my kitchen) and grafting will begin on President's Day. All your info should guarantee that I won't ruin all 50 grafts (hopefully!)

    Thanks again.
     
  5. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Sasquatch,

    I wish you much success! Be prepared for failures, however. Its part of the process. Some grafts just don't take for whatever reason, no matter how careful we are. But don't let it discourage you! Celebrate the successes, and re-graft the failures! ;)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 12, 2010
  6. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    All,

    I'm noticing something about the grafts this year - they're drying out faster. I think this is because I have them in the house. The studio was much cooler and more humid than the house, so last year things dried out a lot slower. This year I'm seeing the pots dry out in a couple of days. I brought some new grafts in about 4 days ago and they were almost bone dry when I checked them this morning. Had to get out the watering can.

    So, my thought is this - check your plants regularly and respond accordingly. You certainly don't want your new grafts to get dessicated. There is no set formula for some of these things like a watering schedule. Adjust to your own particular conditions and situation.
     
  7. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    The GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY


    Time for an update. After much bending and kneeling I decided I needed to invest in some tables to put the grafts on, rather than leaving them on the floor. Its just too hard to take care of them down there. So I bought some plastic folding tables - inexpensive ones - and I'm much happier!! Each table holds exacly 4 flats of pots, and having them at counter-height is so much more convenient!

    Now for the rest of the story...


    The GOOD:

    About a third of the first grafts are now sprouting. This is an exciting stage when the buds have actually pushed all the way out and the leaves start to unfurl. Grafts at this stage will begin to get a little bit more water, but still not a full watering. They can still be drown by careless over-watering, as 120 of my grafts were last year. A sad, sad experience! Just pay attention to the plants and don't get too mechanical about their care.

    The BAD:

    So far of the first 75 grafts I've had 3 that failed. If you look closely at the pics you can see that the scion is turning black at the bottom near the understock. If you see these black stems its a sure sign the graft failed. The black will gradually spread up the stem until the whole thing looks like a burnt match stick. But not to despair! Let's make lemonade out of this lemon! As soon as I know I have a failed graft I remove the dead scion and re-graft a new scion lower down on the rootstock. Usually the second one will take, so the understock isn't wasted. Always nice to have a second chance, and a good reason to keep some extra scions in the fridge, even if you think you're finished grafting!

    The UGLY:

    Fungal attacks are really depressing on grafts, but are pretty common given the high humidity environment. I hate to use chemicals, but in this case I do make an exception. The "organic" fungal remedies don't work worth a hoot in my experience. So when I see a fungal attack like the one shown in the pics, I get out the Bayer products and have at it! This stuff is a miracle cure for all types of fungus! The good news in this case is that the scion is not dead. There are two dead buds on this one, and they have started to decay. The buds next to them are fine, as are other buds on the scion. So I just carefully remove the dead buds and give the whole graft a shot of Bayer wonder-cure. Should recover nicely.
     

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  8. sasquatch

    sasquatch Active Member

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    I wonder whether the bag is necessary before the buds start to burst open. If the parafilm seals the graft area sufficiently, then it is really beneficial to maintain a humid environment around the scion prior to the appearance of leaves? The fungal problems would be reduced by waiting, although the use of fungicide seems like a good bit of insurance either way.

    What is the active ingredient in that Bayer disease control? I found a fungicidal spray that uses 700 strains of Bacillus subtilis bacteria as a natural fungicide. Sulfur, Copper and Bicarbonate fungicides seem to be the most common.
     
  9. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Sasquatch,

    The bags are there more for the new leaves as much as anything else. You could try doing it both ways and see if waiting to bag makes a difference. When the leaves begin to come out, the new graft is not strong enough to pump liquid into the leaves if they are under stress. They need a very high humidity environment so their transpiration rate is greatly reduced. This gives time for the graft to heal more completely, and in time it CAN sustain the plant with the bag removed. Emphasis on the in time! Each graft is unique and you will have to get your own sense of when removing the bags is right. I tried removing the bags at different stages and it took a couple of months before they could do without them, in general. Sometimes the leaves would begin to wilt within hours of removing the bag. They are quite sensitive.

    Of course, if you have a greenhouse you can use misting systems to keep the humidity way up, but I don't have that luxury, so the bags do a good job. Soon you will see me switching these little bags to large baggies held up with bamboo skewers (I call this "tenting"). As the leaves come out there simply isn't enough room for them in the little bags. There's a picture of tenting in last years grafting thread.

    I don't know the active ingredient in the Bayer product. I do know that one little bottle makes 42 gallons of spray, and that it seems to kill anything fungal. I had plants with horrible pseudmonus infections and it knocked it cold. Its systemic, so it soaks into the plant and lasts a long time. In order to minimize exposure to chemicals I spray my stock plants, and the limbs from which I will cut scions, a week before harvest. This gives it time to work on any active organisms, and since its systemic it will keep working long after the scions are cut. Of course, it has to be somewhat warm to do any spraying. Anyway, I swear by it. Diana at Topiary Gardens turned me on to it.
     
  10. 01876

    01876 Active Member

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    Hi K4, here is my updates. I do not have a cozy studio for my new grafts, lucky enough my wife let me use the basement; the utility room for storing these babies. Even though there is a water heater around, the temperature remains only about 50s without additional heating.
    The last picture shows a heater I placed in a dog’s cage to provide them some bottom heat. In addition with couple times of hand misting a day; I too have a humidifier next to them to increase moisture so to avoid frequent watering.

    2/3 of the grafts are done by side – Veneer and 1/3 are Celft grafted (shows in the third picture). I hope I’ll see them start breaking buds as well in next couple weeks, keep my fingers crossed.
     

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  11. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    1876,

    Awesome!! Looks like you have a great little setup going! I hope you have great success as well. I've never tried the cleft grafting - looks interesting. I thought about doing chip-budding until I saw some plants done that way. I don't like the "dog leg" look of the resulting growth. The cleft grafting looks like it would work well for the larger diameter scions.

    Keep posting!


    P.S. I like your plant labels in Japanese. Nice touch!
     
  12. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    DOWN TO SIZE

    Today I cut back the understock on any grafts that have sprouted with significant growth. In the first pic, the one on the left has not been cut back yet, and shows the height I leave the understock when I start grafting. The second pic shows a graft with the understock cut down to size. When the leaves start to appear, you want all the energy of the plant to be transferred to the scion, and not the understock. So, you cut the understock back to a few inches high and let the scion "take over" as the dominant part of the plant. In another month or so I'll completely remove the last few inches of understock protruding above the graft.
     

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  13. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    UNDERSTOCK

    I had someone ask me when the understock was ready to graft on. The thought was that it needed to be leafing out before it was ready. Actually, its ready to graft when you see white root tips in the soil. This is an indication that the understock is starting to grow and those white roots will start the sap flowing up the stem. So you don't need to wait for things to leaf out, but you do want to make sure the roots are active. Hope this helps.
     

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  14. sasquatch

    sasquatch Active Member

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    Well, I have finished grafting 48 maples this weekend. I was surprised at how hard it was for the first few. Each step in the process requires some practice to get the feel of. It's very clumsy and slow at first. I killed 2 rootstock with my first attempts at cutting the notch into the rootstock. One was cut completely thruogh, and the other suffered multiple failed attempts, leaving long vertical tears in the trunks.

    After getting comfortable with the knife, it got smoother, but I still had a few problems. The scion were more fragile than I expected. I had trouble getting a good cut without snapping the scion. I also found that some of my cuts caused the bark and cambium to peel off the end of the scion, ruining the scion. Cambium is delicate. I wonder of my grafting knife isn't sharp enough.

    I ended up using the "8 point" method for almost all my grafts, as it was too tedious to try and line up the cambium perfectly without things shifting while wrapping the graft with the rubber strips. Maybe this was because my scion were collected from young plants and I have a fairly shady site, so my scion wood was pretty thin. Also, my rootstock nay be a bit larger than normal. They were beginning to turn woody at their root collar.

    Using the rubber strips took a bit of practice, but became very easy after you get the hang of it. I was never sure whether I was wrapping them tight enough, or too tight, but I tried both ends of the spectrum. I hope that wrapping tight isn't a problem since the rubber strips should break down and fall off as the callus swells, right?

    I love parafilm tape. It was the easiest step of the process. I can't imagine ever using wax when this is so easy (and cheap at $2.50 for 90 feet). It appears to do a great job of sealing the graft. I was amazed at how much it stretched (see pics below)

    I'm still not sure about the bags. I couldn't find any small bags like Kaitain used so I tried 1 gallon produce bags and they seem too big and heavy. I did my first 25 without bags, and used bags on the rest (I used a fungicidal treatment sprayed into the bag on about half of them.) I'll be looking for smaller bags to put on my first 25, but I hope they're ok for now.

    It still seems that the bag is most critical once the buds begin to open, exposing the leaves. I don't think the stem and buds will transpire or lose much water until the leaves begin to appear. To test this theory, I plan on leaving the bags off a dozen until the buds begin to open. Hopefully, this will reduce issues with fungus by minimizing the time that the bud sits in a humid environment without actively growing.

    I am using my kitchen (currently in the process of a remodel) as my grafting space,with a nice bright sunny southern window. I'm concerned about using a humidifier. Does it cause any condensation on walls on ceilings when used for long periods of time? I thought about building a small hoop frame greenhouse but controlling temp and humidity in a greenhouse can be tough if it's not well designed and built.

    I took some photos of the action for yall. There are a few photos showing the step by step process of making the graft, and a few shots of my work bench, and some shots of my "completed" grafts.
     

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    Last edited: Feb 15, 2010
  15. sasquatch

    sasquatch Active Member

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    Here are the rest of the photos.
     

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  16. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Sasquatch,

    Congratulations!! Its looking good, and I'm really impressed with your step-by-step. My first year grafting I tried to line up cambiums on one side and thought I was going to need cataract surgery when it was all said and done! The 8-point method is much easier on the eyes.

    One thing about the bags - I remembered there is a really good reason to use them. The scion cannot dry out before the graft union heals. When you store scions you have to wrap them in damp paper towels to keep them viable. Once they've been grafted the bags help to keep moisture in that little stem while the graft union heals. You can do without the bags if you have a greenhouse or suitable place with very high (in the 90s) percent humidity. Otherwise, I would bag to be safe. Keeping grafts in the house I would say the bags are a necessity, not an option.

    My humidifier never gets the humidity over 50%, so I don't get condensation on the windows.

    Anyway, great work! Can't wait to see the results!!
     
  17. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    TENTING

    The problem, seen in the first two pics below, is that the baggies used to protect the scion are VERY tight. This is great while the graft union is healing and there isn't any visible activity, but sooner or later things are going to change. Specifically, the scion starts growing! When that happens there is almost no room in the bags for the resulting explosion of leaves and stems. However, its too soon to remove the bags completely. The graft is still delicate and requires an extremely high humidity level around the leaves.

    My solution to this problem is "tenting". This is a super easy and inexpensive way to give the grafts some elbow room, while at the same time keeping that all important humidity high. All you need are some twist-tie style baggies, some 12" bamboo skewers from the grocery (see 3rd pic), and the grafts. I put 3 skewers in each pot and then place the bag over the skewers. I tie up the excess bag with the twist-tie near one of the skewers (for a specific reason - stay tuned). The result is what you see in pic #4 - a little tent the scion can grow into and still have proper climate control.

    Now, about that twist-tie. What I do with that is this - as the graft matures the plant needs to be weaned off all the supplemental himidity and "hardened off" so it can go outside when the weather warms up. To lower the humidity in the tent, you simply raise the baggie. I use the twist-tie to secure the baggie onto the skewer and thus lock it in place at the desired height. Its also nice because I can raise or lower the tent as needed and its really quick to do, since the twist-tie is only attached to one of the skewers. It works great!
     

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  18. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    WHAT I'M TALKIN' ABOUT

    OK folks! Here it is!! This is what makes it all worth while. The bonus this week is flowers on A.j. 'Ataryi'.
     

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  19. 01876

    01876 Active Member

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    When do you start to apply fertilizer if at all?
    Thanks
     
  20. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    01876,

    I usually use an organic potting mix when I pot up my understock that contains fertilizer, micronutrients, and mycorrhizal fungi; therefore I have not used fertilizers at all after grafting. In general, I wouldn't apply any fert until the plants are weaned off the bags and doing fine on their own. And then I would use 1/2 strength. I use Biotone and Hollytone (by Espoma) to fertilize my JMs. Its low nitrogen, and has lots of organic goodies in it.
     
  21. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    UPDATE

    Things are progressing along nicely. I've got TONS of grafts sprouting now (see pics) - which is about right because its been a month since I started grafting. I've done about 300 grafts and have about 100 more to go.

    I tried a bunch of different styles and combinations of grafting this year (part of the fun), and one thing I tried that seems to work reasonably well is the double graft. I simply graft two scions on opposite sides of the understock, one slightly higher than the other. I try to use thicker understock for these doubles, so it has more of a chance of supporting two scions, and you can see the results. Kinda neat! Makes for a much fuller plant from the get-go.

    How about you other grafters?? Any signs of growth yet?
     

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  22. 01876

    01876 Active Member

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    Hi K4, thanks for sharing your experience again.
    I tried mixing of Pro-mix Mycorise Pro (Endomycorrihize), Pro-mix Boufungicide (Bacillus subtilis-MBI600) and Fafard Nursery Mix (processed pine bark) for my graft potting medium this year. I noticed that there are some white spots on the top of the medium start showing up after I increased watering frequencies. They look fungi to me and I take it as a good sign. I’m a fan of Bio-tone too, which I think about to apply to these babies once they leaf out. Here are some updated photos I snapped this morning, The fist one is one of my pilot graft which was done about a month ago and others are grafted couple weeks after, so far I haven’t seeing any difference on the yield of two different grafting methods I used this year, the last picture is one of couple early failure identified. The rootstock looks healthy and I did not see any liquid inside the parafilm so I think the root cause of this failure is simply a weak scion, but I cant back it up.
     

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  23. Kaitain4

    Kaitain4 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    01876,

    Looking great! I use Pro-Mix too, along with some additional pine bark, sand, BioTone, and sometimes other stuff. Pro-Mix is wonderful, but I don't think it has enough bark, so it gives out pretty quickly. Never seen the Fafard mix, where do U get it?

    I've had several failures, as you can imagine, and I've been able to re-graft all but about 8. Some failures are like you mentioned, I believe, just a weak scion. Some have been from bleeding in the graft. Occasionally this happens no matter how careful we try to be. A few are probably bad cuts on my part. And this year I've seen a few bad understock, of all things. My understock was outside most of the winter, and evidently a few plants got nipped pretty hard by the cold. You can't tell, of course, until you've already done the graft.

    As far as success, well its too early to tell of course, but last year I got about 85% to take before the over-watering disaster occurred that wiped out 2/3 of my grafts. I had to go out of town for a couple of weeks and my neighbor watered for me. When I got back the pots were just dripping, soggy, brown pots of mush. I almost cried...
     
  24. alex66

    alex66 Well-Known Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Kaitain and friends! this is a very interesting thread,my experience with graft is limited (i graft only 10 maples in the graft day 2009 by Dick van der Maat nursery Boskoop Holland)and i not write in this thread, but i read your work in progress with interest,in this period of my life i haven't many time for graft ;i want that thread remain in my mind when i have time for graft,please add this to FAQ ,this esperience is a good work for next generations of maples lovers,many thanks !!!
    ciao
    Alex
     
  25. sasquatch

    sasquatch Active Member

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    So far, things are looking good. I went through my grafts and removed new buds from the rootstock, and checked the general health of the grafts. It looks like all my grafts are still alive, and several have leaves about to open. It's been 15-17 days since I made the grafts, so I will keep watching for the next few weeks hoping that things continue successfully. I gave each plant a small amount of water (approx 30ml) and this is the first time they've been watered since I brought them indoors 3.5 weeks ago. It's hard to sit back and wait for the grafts to take and spring to get here. I'm quite impatient!

    On another note, I received a nice looking Fairy Hair today from a friend in California. It's 3 years old, but only 5-6 inches tall. Also, I purchased a Red Spider and Atrolineare this weekend. I've been really loving the Linearlobum group lately.
     

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