We’ve got two apple trees. Apple trees need to cross-pollinate to produce fruit. What happens if one of our trees dies? If you graft branches from each tree on the other tree, then the tree can cross-pollinate itself!
Despite my long absence from this blog, I am still alive. I just haven’t done anything interesting lately. I have been focusing heavily on finishing my masters program this semester, working full time and staying warm.
While I’m not quite done with all of those things, I’ve been planning on grafting our apple trees to each other for two years. Two years ago the trees were too small and I didn’t want to mess with them them. Last year I just missed the timing.
When to Graft
I’m not a grafting expert, but my understanding is that there are two times when you can graft. For cut-and-splice type grafting you should do it in the spring before the plant starts budding. For bud-grafts you do it at the end of summer when next year’s buds have developed and this year’s bark peels easily from the tree.
Making a Cleft Graft
Most grafting tutorials seem to be oriented around grafting a whole new tree onto a different rootstock.
I decided to do a cleft graft because it seemed easy, and I found examples of it being used on non-rootstock.
The photos mix up the two grafts I did a little bit so if it looks like I’m switching trees, that’s because I am. The steps are in the right order though.
Start by cutting two segments of last year’s growth. These are the scions.
Cut a branch off with a nice clean cut, straight across the branch.
Create a cleft about two inches deep by rocking a sharp knife back and forth and pushing firmly.
Whittle the ends of the scions so they are wedges about 1 inch long and insert them into the graft. Make sure that the cambium (the thin layer right below the bark) lines up between the cleft and the scion.
Protect your graft by covering it with wax.
Wrap the graft tightly with electrical tape to give it a little bit more support
So I repeated this process twice. Once on the Haralson and once on the Honeygold. Now we wait.
I believe that this year they are supposed to grow together, but I don’t expect to see much action in the grafted branches. If I understand everything correctly, I should expect to see them bud out next spring.