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Dormant (bench) chip budding

Posted by John Knisley 
Dormant (bench) chip budding
March 26, 2020 11:05PM
Hello everyone, as my grafting classes for this spring have now all been canceled (because of our current pandemic) I have a lot of rootstock I now want to graft and put into the nursery beds this spring. For years I have been doing whip and tongue grafting in the dormant season or t-budding in the summer and have had good success. This year I want to experiment with something a little different - dormant chip budding (bench-style) on unplanted/dormant rootstock, and when healed for 3 weeks or so, plant into the nursery. I have searched and searched and not found any information out there on this matter, including the Grafters Handbook. I have talked with a well seasoned expert in fruit trees and grafting and he says that you can do dormant chip budding but when the rootstock is actively growing (in the ground). He also says he has not heard about trying this on the bench and there is likely a reason for that. So, I am thinking I am going to experiment with this to see if it would work as well as whip and tongue grafting since i have so many rootstock I need to now deal with. If any of you have any experience with this type of grafting or cant tell me is either a Terrible or a Good idea I would really appreciate it.

John Knisley
Alternative Roots Farm
Madelia, MN
Zone 4b
Re: Dormant (bench) chip budding
March 27, 2020 03:57AM
I have not found that root stock bark is generally at the slipping stage, which happens when sap is really moving. If it was at slipping stage, it would make regular bench grafting a pain trying to get matches on cambiums. That takes T budding out. But on the chip side, maybe.

And yeah, it was me that called.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/27/2020 03:58AM by Tom Kleffman.
Re: Dormant (bench) chip budding
March 27, 2020 02:28PM
One of the benefits of chip budding is that you can indeed use it independent of the bark slipping season. It will work during the late winter/early spring graft season. Any time 2 or more cambiums are held in close contact and temperatures are above freezing, healing will occur. Period. When late summer/fall budding is undertaken, note there is a long period of healing before the bud erupts (until next spring), which means a likely stronger graft connection. So, it may need a little extra attention when spring budding if the shoot grows vigorously. I have not had to fuss any different with mine frankly. I prefer the bench graft, but chip budding is often a nice option if your stock is too large. Furthermore, for those in cold climates, there may not be ample time for late season budding to heal before severe temps move in near fall. As with all grafting, care should be taken to keep things from desiccating, and this includes budding. Poor aftercare is the number one reason for graft failure, not surgery.
Re: Dormant (bench) chip budding
March 28, 2020 12:03AM
Tom and Todd, thank you for your insight - I think I am going to just do a little trial to see if I notice any difference between the two styles. I may end up continuing to do whip and tongue grafts for the most part but just want to change it up a little for fun.

Thanks for all of the insight!

John Knisley
Re: Dormant (bench) chip budding
March 29, 2020 03:20PM
if it does work, it certainly opens up how many trees you can make from purchased scionwood. 2-3X as many I would expect.

Re: Dormant (bench) chip budding
April 12, 2020 02:40PM
I'm also trying this out this Spring. I have 200 MM111 bud grafted and heeled in in potting soil in the (unheated) barn. Generally most sources don't recommend it, but I saw a video on YouTube and wanted to give it a try.

My approach is to strip buds from the Scion first. These I let soak in a shallow plate of well water. It stops them drying out and it's easy (I do it myself often enough) to forget it's qualities as an adhesive. When ready for the rootstock, I chip bud a couple of buds on each stock, label and date them. The dates were primarily to assess whether the moon cycles had an impact - all the grafting was done a couple of days before the pink super moon. I suspect that even if this would work I probably started too early out of boredom (still snow on the ground here in Maine), but I'll look to share results in a month or so. Got so much scionwood this year that I can try again in early summer if this proves a total bust.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/13/2020 01:08PM by David Fulton.
Re: Dormant (bench) chip budding
July 15, 2020 02:12AM
Well, quick status report. A lot took - but still less than 50%. The factors determining a take or not seem so random. Some of my first grafts on 4/3 (Sweet Alford, Improved Dove) took really well, the grafts later in the month when you'd assume the conditions would be better and my skill would have improved not so much.

Couple of things that I could do with some advice on from the more experienced folks.

* I expected that grafts onto second season trees already planted in the Orchard and leafing would be better than nursery stock - but so few have took.i left a lot of leaves on them to give the grafts a head start. What am I likely to be doing wrong as a newbie?

* Some of the scionwood buds I harvested were tiny. The smaller the bud, the more miniscule my chances. The buds are hanging on but no growth in any of them. For next year, what would the experts on this forum suggest when you get toothpick length scionwood with tiny buds? Is there any way to reliably graft them?

USDA 5b, Blue Hill, ME
200+ trees on MM111 (30+ UK cider varieties in 1st or 2nd leaf)
Re: Dormant (bench) chip budding
February 13, 2021 06:49PM
Back again, a sucker for punishment, but a grafting season wiser. Ultimately, i had about 67 takes for last season, out of about 200, which sucks - but I have 30+ new varieties in my orchard trying to survive a Maine winter + ravenous voles and a chance to apply what I learned (and researched over winter) to get better next season. The disappointment of seeing a graft fail, or graft and rootstock die when i debudded them in an attempt to push a grafted bud was painful, but drives me on).

My plans for the upcoming season (the wait is killing me!) are the following:
    [*] 450 rootstock (go big or go home)
    [*] Build a greenhouse as a Nursery so I can do a better job watering the grafted plants (it was a droughty year in Maine - putting them out in the orchard in grow bags wasn't in hindsight a good idea).
    [*] 80+ new varietal scions from Fedco, Temperate Orchard Society, Eves Cidery, 39th Parallel, and others.
    [*] No more bud grafting in early spring. Like the pros, i'll leave that to later in the season
    [*] More variety in my grafting choices - i plan to master the Somerset Saddle and Rind graft on my thicker rootstock. I'm also going to double graft / interstem weaker varieties onto Bulmers Norman and other cider triploids - scions permitting.
    [*] A beekeepers outfit to allow me to Scythe without being driven to distraction by blackfly

The bench chip budding I'll look to replace with T-budding in the greenhouse. Will come back i'm sure - the precision needed on the former is remarkably therapeutic once you get over the terror of doing it for the first time.

Good luck to everyone with their grafting plans this spring, bench chip budding/grafting or no!

USDA 5b, Blue Hill, ME
200+ trees on MM111 (30+ UK cider varieties in 1st or 2nd leaf)

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/13/2021 09:43PM by David Fulton.
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