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Best Use of Small Scions

Posted by Mason Colby 
Best Use of Small Scions
February 27, 2022 12:35AM
The trees I'm going to graft are old and long forgotten so the 1 yo. growth wood is often a fraction of the size it should be. I feel like top-working these small scions would have much greater success than trying to whip and tongue to a larger baby rootstock. I could work a cleft graft into the top of baby rootstock right? What would be the best way to get grafts to take?

And I read somewhere that 2 yo. growth wood is fine it's just more difficult to work with? Also there seems to be a lot of back-and-forth on the topic of using water sprouts but a university webpage, I think the one that said 2 yo. scions are fine (Michigan State?) stated water sprouts are just fine and I believe Bunker said so as well.

This little detail stuff is confusing for me.

Thanks Much!
Re: Best Use of Small Scions
March 04, 2022 08:41PM
Small size would works just fine for topworking. We often sell thinner material at a discounted rate for just that. 3/16 is about the smallest caliper that can be well manipulated for whip type grafts (you can get away with thin material if you use just the simple whip/english speed graft instead of including the tongue cuts). For the topwork, most of you out there are going to have a much easier time if you use the rind (aka bark) graft. You do have to wait until things are starting to flow (just before or following budbreak), but that also means a much nicer day for the session. Cleft grafts work, but are more problematic (crushing, run on splitting, etc.).

Regarding older wood, you can use it. I did a controlled study a few years ago and had close to the same take as new wood. However, it is not simply about healing the graft. Part of the scion choice work is getting nice healthy buds in the mix. What often happens is a grafter is stuck with spindly wood like you (Mason) describe. A nice trick is to use a small portion of the 2nd year wood for the grafted section, while retaining first year wood that may have better buds. Since a length of years growth can have weak/recessed buds at the base, you may or may not have a candidate for this tactic. A lot depends on the cultivar and growth that year. But this will become another option for those stuck with less than ideal wood.
Re: Best Use of Small Scions
March 10, 2022 03:07AM
Awesome. I pruned all the old neglected trees that I want to graft but a year is a long time to wait for choice scion wood. This is already an inherently slow hobby. Upon further examination most trees had one or two very small branches hiding with excellent one year growth. Only one tree I pruned and left for next year to graft but that one is on its way out in the next 5 years or so so I'm not surprised it didn't give up any younger quality wood.

Thanks for the in depth answer and suggestions.
Re: Best Use of Small Scions
March 13, 2022 08:09PM
I do a lot of 1/8" and smaller too. tongue is easy with the pointy Tina 606. Older wood is also 100% I just pick off the flower buds (or not). I've made little Bonsai trees on stronger stock-already well branched. 2000ppm IBA may be helpful-I always use it Bench grafting. 3000 trees/ year 98.7% success. I think Pixiecrunch TM must have an anti-propagation gene spliced in.
Now have 500 varieties of trees, sell trees on all stock and scionwood.
Field grafting today where the rabbits took down a patch. It's 40 ° and misty 95% of the winter here, Snohomish Washington.

Skipley Farm 500 varieties, wet spring, clayloam, 1900 gdd, AM,CM, Anthracnose, 20 rootstocks, Seedling Apples, Nursery business 50 years. Excel-
Re: Best Use of Small Scions
March 15, 2022 05:00AM
Thanks for the very helpful info. I didn't know about the Tina line of Felco grafting knives.
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