How To: Graft an apple tree

Graft an apple tree

Cityslipper shows you how he uses the cleft grafting method to make a less appealing green apple tree produce better tasting red apples. 10-12 inches long scion wood is collected from the good apple tree while it is dormant. Care is taken not to let the twigs dry out. Selected scions should not have spurs rather they should have leaf buds that lay flat against the twig. A good host twig on a healthy-looking branch should be selected. A clean cut should be made with the fine teeth of a grafing-saw without damaging the bark around the cut. The host stump is split in the center (about 1 inch) so that two scions can be placed in it. With regard to preparing the scion wood, choose a leaf bud where the rest of the scion wood is curving toward the bud side. Make two long cuts (wedge shape about half to three-quarters of an inch long) under this leaf bud cutting away the bark from the scion wood. Prepare the second scion the same way and insert or jam them into the split in the host twig. The bark of the scion should be flush with the bark of the graft or host twig. If both are established one scion will be cut off. The grafted joint is then wrapped with grafting tape or cotton twine to protect it against the elements. If cotton twine is used, the wrap should be coated with tree wound dressing. A month after the rest of the host tree has come out of dormancy and the terminal buds on the scions show no sign of life, then, it is likely that the grafts did not take. If the scions are established, the wrap has to be removed 4-6 weeks in the growing season.

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