When Do You Prune Fruit Trees – Pruning & Grafting Apple Trees.

When Do You Graft & Trim Apple Trees

Warmer temperatures are here, which means many of our activities we outdoors enthusiast love are upon us, such as; time to start tapping trees for Maple Syrup, cutting Scions, Pruning Fruit Trees (if not done in November), Cutting Firewood for next season, Clearing Downfall from Winter, preparing for the Spring Turkey Hunt, and well you get the point more activities then we have time for.

Today I find myself in the Apple orchard cutting new Scions for starting my own Apple Trees on the 64 acres of land I just purchased. The land needs some adjustments and one of those adjustments will be to plant a few hundred apple trees throughout. Yes since I have many different types of mature apple trees, which produce hundreds of new Scions each year (root-stock is less than $2), I will plant dozens of apple trees in selected areas. Down in the Valley I will plant mostly Connell Reds, with a few HoneyCrisp mixed in, since they do not require much work, are hardy to diseases & weather, and produce a lot of apples.

How to Create Better Deer habitat

In the pastures (fields) between the wooded areas I will only place a few trees (Conned Reds & HoneyCrisp) and let most of the pasture grow for deer bedding and the Pheasants. I will keep the grass trimmed around the trees, but only mow the field once every two years. All trees will require fencing, so I will buy 5ft Galvanized Welded fencing and make a 5ft diameter around the tree. I will use electrical fence post (3 post) to support the fence. Once the trees have been in the ground for 3 – 4 years I will cut the fence in half, double the circumference, wrap chicken wire around the tree’s base (very loose), add another electrical fence post (4 total), and move the fence up off the ground by weaving it on the 4 post. This will help protect the trees until they’re large enough to survive any damage the deer or rabbits my cause.

*Note; I put all my new trees (root-stock with sciosn) in a fenced off garden for two years before transferring them to the orchard or field. Currently I have just over 100 trees ready to be transferred from my garden.

On this new land I will start two different apple orchards, one close to the new home I’m going to build and the other on one end of the tillable. These two Orchards will include Connell Reds, Wealthy, HoneyCrisp, Sweet Sixteen, & Zestar. I will also plant White Spruce, Norway, & Blue Spruce in the deer crossing corridors to help reserve these crossing and to heighten the Deer’s sense of security.

When To Prune Apples Trees

Next weekend (Feb 18th) I will start trimming my apple trees in the orchard since the weather is warmer than usual. Typically I like to do this in November or the first of March, but with the warmer temperatures this year I will get an early jump on it. Once done with the Orchard I will get back out to the new land and continue to clean up the woods.

How To Improve Your Woods For Hunting

Another way to improve your woods, other than planting trees is to cut down some trees. By taking down dead trees, cleaning up downfall, cutting up trees that are leaning, and making brush piles you can improve the floor of the woods greatly. The brush piles will create cover for game such as rabbits and grouse, while cutting up the trees allows for more sunlight to penetrate to the ground/floor and improve vegetation and new tree growth. You can also thin out smaller diameter trees to allow for the larger and more mature trees to grow and develop faster. Both of these techniques will enrich your woods and make it cleaner and easier for walking and hunting.

*Note, be careful in sloped areas or areas of erosion. If you have questions or are concerned about Forestry Management consult your DNR Forestry Dept.

How To Grow Your Own Fruit trees – A perfectly Cloned Fruit

Why Grow Your Own Fruit Tree – Growing Apple Trees

Why would anyone want to grow or develop their own apple trees when you can buy them and not have to worry about anything but planting them? Well even if you purchase your apple trees from a local nursery you still need to take care of them if you are going to get a high quality apple of them year after year. But there are many other benefits from growing your own Fruit Trees.

What Is The Best Way To Grow Your Own Apple Trees Or To Start An Orchard

I strongly believe the best method for starting your own Apple Orchard is by growing your own Fruit Trees from Root-stock. Yes it will take you two extra years for Fruit, but you will get the trees and the fruit you want, at a fraction of the cost.

By growing your own Apple Trees you choose the Root-stock that is most suitable for you and your geographical area. Then you graft onto that Root-stock the Scion or Bud of the Apple you want to grow. These Scions and Buds will grow an exact clone of the fruit in which you took the Scion or Bud from. So by asking around and finding apple trees that family or friends may have, choosing those that are great tasting or good for cooking, you will get more than enough Scions and Buds to grow hundreds of trees in one year.

You may wonder, by taking these Scions & Buds are you hurting the Fruit Trees you have taken them from, no! What you want to take are the Scions that will be removed when trimming the tree back for next Spring, so they would be just tossed away anyways. And one long Scion will have many Buds that can be used to produce many new Apple Trees. Also, one nice Scion will be long enough to cut four or five sections, each with 3 or 4 buds, to use for grafting.

Benefits From Growing Your Own Apple Trees

Here are a few benefits for growing your own Apple Trees;

You choose the type of tree you want; Dwarf, Semi-Dwarf, or Standard.
You choose the best Root-stock that will grow in your soil type and climate (region).
You choose the best Root-stock that also gives you the disease resistances you want.
You now graft which Apple you plan to clone.
After 3 years you can also graft (clone – exact genetic code) other types of Apples onto the same tree.

Is It Hard To Graft Scions & Buds To Root-stock

Grafting is very easy to learn, but practice on a bench first before trying any grafting. I found after the first year, learning how to do multiple grafts, I get 100% success on Root-stock and 98% when grafting to large branches or trunks.

When Will I See Fruit

When growing Apple Trees from Root-stock you will see a few blossoms after the first year, but you want to pick these off, not allowing any apples to grow until the fifth year. This gives the tree time to develop its root system and become stronger.

How Fast Will My Trees Grow

The growth of your Apple Trees will depend on you Root-stock, soil, and the weather. However since you need to plant these new trees in your garden for the first two years, protecting them from the Rabbits and Deer, you can control all these elements. Since I use Semi-dwarf root-stock my trees grow like this;

Buds- The first year (same year of the graft) you will see no growth to 1 inch.
Scions – The first year (same year of the graft) you will see 8 inches to 3 feet of growth.
Buds – The second year you will see an additional 2 feet to 3 feet of growth.
Scions – The second year you will see an additional 2 feet to 3 feet of growth.
Buds & Scions – After 5 years you looking at an 8 to 10 foot tree.

See why the Bud Graft is the best graft!

Grafting and Budding Fruit Trees & Plants – What Are The Best & Strongest Grafts?

The Best Grafts For Plants & Fruit Trees

There are several grafting techniques that one can choose to use, but which are the best and why?

Firsts we must decided what the “Best” means, as there are many variables to consider such as the plant, tree, root-stock, age, and size of stock we are grafting to.

Here we will focus on four main grafts that 98% of us would use; Bud Graft, Cleft Graft, Whip & Tongue Graft, and the Bark Graft.

The Bud Graft

The Bud Graft is a grafting technique the uses the newly formed bud from a new Scion. The bud is located under the leaf and is taken between the Summer period of July 15 to August 15. This Bud is then placed on a small plant or a new Root-stock. Since the Bud is place under the bark of a young tree or plant it is encapsulated by the stock’s bark, forming the best bond you can get from grafting. This grafting technique is performed in Mid Summer, using the new young Buds off this year’s new Scions.

This graft will NOT typically develop/grow in the same year you performed the graft, setting it back one year from the other graphs. However, this graft will be the strongest of all grafts, grow faster, and typically surpass the other types of grafts (Bark, Cleft, and Whip & Tongue).

*The Bud Graft is the Best Grafting Technique for root-stock and small plants, providing the strongest union! The Cleft and Whip & Tongue Grafts can also be used here, so you may want to consider using one of these grafts first and then in July add the bud graft. The following Spring you could then decided which one is best for you. Note- The bud graph will not be as far in growth at this time, but will be a stronger graft and should grow faster over time.

The Bud Graft does not work well on large stocks and branches, say the size of a nickel or larger. The reason is that the bark on a mature or larger stock will pull back more when healing itself. This leaves the Bud Transplant exposed, no cambium to cambium layers touching, allowing the Bud transplant to dry up.

The Whip & Tongue Graft

The Whip & Tongue Graft is a grafting technique done in the Spring. This graft uses a first year Scion (one year’s growth), that is taken from the previous year. These Scions are cut in either early Winter (Nov) or late Winter (Feb-Mar) and are stored until needed. This graft requires making two similar cuts on both the Scion and Stock. These cuts are designed for locking the union of the Stock and Scion together and giving you the maximum cambium (bark) layer to layer contact of any graft, which improves the odds for a successful union.

To make this graft cut you first make the diagonal cut on your stock or Scion. For the second cut, which creates the tongue, you need to start at the top of the center ring seen in the diagonal cut. The cut is made straight down the stock/Scion for approximately ¾ inches.

*This is the second Best Grafting Technique for root-stock or small plants and forms a stronger graft/union than the Cleft Graft. The Cleft Graft can also be used on young plants or root-stock, but this graft cut is made by splitting the Root Stock in half, which puts more stress on the tree or plant. The amount of Cambium layer to layer (surface area) contact is also less than that of the Whip & Tongue Graft.

The Cleft Graft

The Cleft Graft is a grafting technique that is done in the Spring. This grafting union is typically made with two first year Scions (one year’s growth), that are taken from the previous year. If you are using this on a root-stock or plant then one Scion is used, trying to match up the same diameters and getting bark to bark contact on all four edges. The Scions for this graft are cut in either early Winter (Nov) or late Winter (Feb-Mar) and are stored until needed.

The graft or union cuts on the Scion are made on each side, diagonal cuts meeting at the butt-end of the Scion in the center. The Stock cut is one cut made across the entire diameter and down the center of you stock. This is why it’s one of the most stressful grafting techniques to use.

*The Cleft Graft is the quickest and easiest Graft to make, but due to the added stress on the branch or stock it’s the least desirable grafting technique. The success rate of this graft is just as good as any other graft and can be used on all sizes of stock, root-stock to large branches or trunks.

The Bark Graft

The Bark Graft is another Graft that is done in the Spring. This grafting union is typically made with two to four first year Scions (one year’s growth), that are taken from the previous year. The Scions are cut in either early Winter (Nov) or late Winter (Feb-Mar) and stored until needed. The size of stock used for Bark grafting are typically the size of a quarter and larger.

The Bark Grafting Technique requires making a 2 inch long cut deep enough to get through the bark and cambium layer. You then need to lift the bark up and place the scion between the stock’s bark and wood (center of the branch or trunk). The Scion cut is made on both sides and is usually at an equal diagonal to the the center of the Scion. The angle will vary depending on how long you make your diagonal cut.

*The Bark Graft is easy to do, but takes the longest time to perform since you need to work the bark loose before placing your Scion. When using the Bark graft lift the bark on both side of the cut, placing your Scion in the center. This will allow for a larger bark to bark surface area once you wrap the graft tight.

Grafting Tips

All grafts are easy to do, just take the time to practice on the bench before performing them on your plants and trees.

For a higher success rate make sure you have good Scions or Buds, wrap your grafts tight, and seal them with tree wound or wax, including the Scion tips. If using Bud Grafting then skip the tree wound or waxing. My success rate for Root-stock is 100% and for tree branches or trunks 95% or better. Here I show last years Root-stock (1 year & 4 week growth) and this years Root-stock (only 4 weeks old), see the differences in growth and 100% success rate.

When making the scion cuts consider the cambium to cambium surface area, you want as much as you can get so this will vary the angles you use. For the Tongue & Whip Graft you will want a diagonal cut such that the Scion and Stock have a straight locking union. The Cleft Graft you want longer and thinner cuts so it will make good bark to bark contact and not cause the Stock-Cut to spread open any further than needed. The Bark Graft you will want to make sure the Scion sits between the stocks bark and wood with the cambium layers making good contact. This means that a diagonal cut may not be the best type of cut to make. A notch cut on the front side of the Scion may be better. The Bud graft, also known as T-Budding requires making a T-Cut in the bark and then lifting up the bark to slide your bud into. I recommend that you remove the wood from the back side of the Bud Transplant before placing it under the bark of your stock (trunk or branch).

*Cambium layer – This is the layer just under the bark that is typically green in color and the reason why all grafting techniques require cutting into the bark. The Cambium layer must be expose in order to make the contact between both the Scion or Bud and the Stock, it is also the lifeline of the tree or plant, which allows the sap to flow between the Stock and Scion, healing the union, and giving life to the Scion & Bud.

Bud Grafting Citrus & Apple Trees – Budding

Budding- Best grafting technique

Budding, T-Budding, or Shield Budding is a type of grafting that consists of inserting a single bud into a plant, root stock, or young tree. This type of grafting is done in mid July to late August.

Bud Grafting is the fast way to reproduce a plant or fruit tree. The resulting plants/trees are clones (genetically identical). The plant being propagated (represented by the bud) is referred to as the scion, while the plant being grafted to is referred to as the root-stock.

Why The Bud Graft

Budding, particularly “T” budding, is faster than any other grafting technique (Cleft, Bark, Whip, etc) and the percentage of successful unions is usually greater. T-budding will also form a much stronger union with your tree.

Budding Technique

The T-Bud graft is not that hard to learn, but you will want to practice on the bench before trying this on you plants or root stock. To start the graft, remove the bud from the plant or fruit tree you want to clone. Next select another tree of the same type of fruit or a root stock (apple to apple, pear to pear) and place the bud into it. Now take your tape and wrap above and below your bud, leaving the bud exposed. In the Spring, when the bud begins to grow remove the rest of the root stock or branch (just above the Bud Graft). You now have produced the exact clone of the fruit your bud came from. Note the exact fruit, not the exact tree as that is dependent on the root stock that you grafted to.

*When wrapping your tree tape around the Bud Graft there is one tape you can use and make one wrap over the bud, this is called grafting parafilm tape.

When To Use The Bud Graft

Budding is best use for young trees or root stock. On large trees or branches the healing is more difficult as the bark will tend to pull away more from your bud graft then what a young root stock would do.

*Tip- When making your cuts try to limit their lengths as much as possible. On the straight cut try to lift the bark up beyond the end of the cut and have the lower part of the bud-bark sample (single bud scion) pushed under the bark of your branch or root stock. This will required a small thin tool, like a very small standard screw driver. By doing this you will increase the success of your budding. On the T-Cut try to minimize this length as well.

How To Graft Fruit Trees To Root stock – Apple Trees

Grafting Techniques for Root Stock

when looking at different grafting techniques to use for root-stock there are a few that are more common; Bud Grafting, Whip & Tongue, and the Cleft Graft. To start to grow your own apple tress you must first decide which type of tree (Root-Stock) you want; Dwarf, Semi Dwarf, Standard, Early bearing, or Extra hardy. These characteristics along with the climate you’re in will help you decide which root stock to purchase.

Root Stock – Which Variety Of Apple Tree To Raise

Why purchase root-stock versus panting apple seeds? Today most apples are Hybrids and planting the seeds will not produce the same type of apple, in fact you may not even get apples. The only way to grow trees that will produce the exact clone of the fruit you want is to graft scions (branches) onto another tree, such as root stock.

Budding – Bud Grafting

Bud Grafting is the fast grafting technique to grow on Root-Stock. See how to do a Bud Graft and When the best time is to graft buds.

Cleft Graft For Root-Stock

When grafting the Cleft Graft is best for root stock as it puts more stress on larger trees or branches. Cleft Grafting to root stock and Cleft Grafting to large branches.

Whip & Tongue Graft

The Whip & Tongue Graft is easy and anyone can master it in a short period of time. The best way to learn is to take a few Scions (branches) and practice on the bench. The Whip & Tongue graft works well for root stock and young trees.