Last June, I wrote about apple rootstock. The rootstock came through the winter very well and some of the layered branches had roots on them. So I decided to have a go at grafting. I had Will’s Gold and PI 651006, an unplanned acquisition from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service‘s National Genetic Resources Program. I had stumbled across this accession and noticed that the latitude given was 85°N which would have had the tree growing about 350 miles south of the North Pole! I emailed the contact at the bottom of the webpage thinking that would probably be the end of it. I got an email back that contained the internal communications including looking at the collector’s notes. On a whim, I asked if I could get scion wood. I was floored when the answer was yes. In February, I received two 16″ pieces of scion wood which I stored in the refrigerator until I could graft without freezing my fingers off. In mid-March when we had a very warm spell, I decided to graft just in case we had bud break which would mean the trees were no longer dormant and could not be grafted. I didn’t have much rootstock so I was in a bit of a bind until it occurred to me that I could “park” the scion wood on any of our wild apple trees in our woods. I could graft onto any of those trees and then take scion wood from the grafted scion wood when I had rootstock available.
Looking at how sharp the knife was, I decided that it was a good idea to protect my thumb so I taped a piece of hard yoghurt container with duct tape. The inside piece of tape was reversed so that it wouldn’t stick to my thumb. It was slow going because I didn’t really know what I was doing. I knew that I had to get as much contact between each piece of wood’s cambium layer but knowing what you are supposed to do is not the same thing as being able to do it.
One bark graft was enough. I decided to switch to a faster and easier technique – cleft grafting.
By the time I was finished I had 8 grafts of PI 651006 – I cut each 16″ scion into 4 pieces, each with two or three buds on it – and 8 grafts of Will’s Gold. Two of the Will’s Gold grafts are on rootstock and are potted up. All I need is one PI 651006 to take and then I have an endless supply. Hopefully, one of the potted up Will’s Gold grafts will take because I’d like to give it to Will when the family gets together this Thanksgiving.
I’ll know soon enough how successful my first grafting attempts have been because we are starting to have bud break on our established trees. The grafts will probably take a little longer to show bud break because of the shock they have gone through.