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Budding in Spring...

Posted by David Maxwell 
Budding in Spring...
June 03, 2014 04:44PM
I have an awkward situation: two trees (only) of Jansen's Seedling, (a cv. developoed by Fred Jansen, one of the founders of NAFEX), both completely ringed of bark (I think the actual origin of this bark loss is previous Saperda destruction of the cambium underlying it). The trees are sufficiently large that there is enough moisture and nutrients present to permit both leaf and blossom buds to grow this Spring, so I in fact have leaves (with dormant buds in the leaf axils). I rather think that these two trees are unlikely to survive beyond the first month, and would like to try (desparately) to preserve the germplasm. The question is what is most likely to succeed at this stage.

As noted in another post, I have in the past successfully grafted scions in which the buds were at breaking (green tip) by enclosing everything in Parafilm. But my trees are now fully leafed out. I believe it is possible to bud even in spring, (although it is more usually done later in summer - locally generally in August). Do any of you have any experience doing this? Success? Would I be better trying to do a conventional graft and enclosing everything in a plastic baggie to retain moisture? Maybe even a "banana graft" to get a larger area for union... (I have never done this, but some of the more difficult nut varieties are grafted using this in the warmer weather. It is dependent on the bark slipping easily, which isn't the case with apple grafting in early spring. I have long been intrigued with the idea. Basically one prepares the scion by peeling back strips of bark, then cuts off the woody stem, leaving strips of bark like the peel of a banana (after you have eaten the banana itself). Corresponding strips of bark are then removed from the understock, and the scion stuck on top and held in place by rolling an elastic band down over the "peels". ) But I digress. Does anybody have advice, (grafting vs. attempted shield budding) and has anybody actually done budding in late May? (We are two weeks behind schedule here in NS, and from the persective of plant development we are in late May. Most of my apple cultivars are at about 50% bloom. Browns Thorn is barely at pink.)

Broomholm Orchard
Zone 5b in Nova Scotia
Re: Budding in Spring...
June 03, 2014 06:17PM
Early season budding can be done ('June budding'), but the key is having matured buds to use, so generally dormant scion wood is used as the source of the buds.

I have done banana grafting of pecans when I lived in Oklahoma (works quite well), but pecan bark is much sturdier than apple. If you go that route, splint the graft to provide support.

I'd be more inclined to do a side graft (picture T-budding, except use a section of scionwood instead of just a bud). That's my go-to method in general (though usually with dormant scionwood). You can wrap the scion to the stock using parafilm, or my favorite, flagging tape, to keep the succulent parts from drying out. You still want some mature buds on the scion, so hold off until the buds are well-developed (of course, by that time they'd be ready for plain old T-budding).

If there's enough of the top still healthy, maybe consider buying a cheap potted-up apple tree from your local Dept store/farm supply/supermarket/other place that oughtn't really to be selling trees, planting it under the affected tree, and inarching. Doesn't matter what variety, it could even be (shudder) Red Delicious. We'd forgive you.

Personally, depending on how much wood you've got, I'd try a bit of everything. A couple now, in case the tree collapses faster than you think, and some of every type of graft you can think of later when the buds are more mature.

Jim Gallott
New Haven, VT USDA Zone 5a
Re: Budding in Spring...
June 03, 2014 06:46PM
I am embarrassed to admit that this is not the first time I have found myself with a tree with no bark leafing out in spring. In the past I have done exactly what you suggested, (or essentially so, because I was using root suckers rather than newly planted nurse roots), and done inarch grafts to try to save the tree. It seems that it takes too long for the inarched shoot to establish new vascular channels and nutrition before the top has died of starvation and dessication. (I wonder whether it might help if I were to cut most of the top back drastically, so as to reduce the demand on the newly inarched grafts....)
Over all, I think your advice is absolutely correct - try everything possible, in the hopes that something will succeed. But I would still be interested as to whether anybody has actually managed to do June budding with actively growing wood.

Broomholm Orchard
Zone 5b in Nova Scotia
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