Riley Holly Nov. `09
I know everyone is ready to start collecting scion wood to share at our exchange. There are some that
have asked, "What is a proper way to collect and store prior to the exchange?" So here are some
First, be sure to sterilize your tools that come in contact with the wood each time you move from one tree to the next. Keep alcohol and cotton swabs handy for this job. Collect wood from trees you know to be healthy. This way we can keep from spreading any pathogens. The wood should be saved from branches that have had fruit in the past.
You can tag the branches that have fruit during harvest, making winter scion collecting easier. The new branches that shoot up very fast (water sprouts, sports) should not be used as they take 2 years or more to fruit. These "sports" may produce a new variety that you can cultivate and name, but keep the wood for your own experiments.
Cut the wood (6-10 inches long) from last year's growth, making a slanted cut ¼ inch above the upper bud, and a straight, perpendicular cut at the bottom (While there are other methods, R.J. Garner, in his 1947 book, "The Grafter's Handbook" specifies the angled cut be at the top. If we all follow this rule, there should be less confusion when grafting and rooting scions). The ideal size is about ¼ inch diameter (pencil size) for seedlings. The scion should always be smaller than the rootstock. Larger diameter scion wood is used when you are stump (field) grafting. You will want 1-2 buds above the graft, more reduces the energy to each bud, thereby reducing the possibility of it "taking". You will be able to get several scions for grafting from each stick. You will use the whole stick if you plan to root a cutting.
Choose wood with buds that are leaf buds rather than flower buds. Leaf buds are narrow and pointy, flower buds round and plump. Sometimes this is difficult to determine, so if the bud starts to show as a flower, remove it and there will be a leaf bud under it. Be sure to collect the wood before the buds open. Be sure to keep the wood from each tree separate.
Put cuttings from each tree in a separate zip-lock bag and stick a label on it immediately. Remove the leaves to help keep the wood from desiccating. Some small wood should even have the ends wrapped with "Parafilm". Keep the bags with the wood in a cool and dark place, to keep the buds from breaking into leaves (or flowers). The vegetable drawer in your refrigerator is ideal. If you have a "hard to take" variety, you can increase its chance by pre-girdling 2-4 weeks before you cut the scion wood. Girdling keeps the food (photo synthetically produced), from the upper leaves, to be concentrated above the girdled area. Girdling is done by removing ¼ to 1 inch of bark along the branch. This is done using a knife cutting around the branch, just deep enough to reach the cambium and remove the phloem, which transports the food. Share your favorite fruits with others, except for the patented varieties. Happy grafting
Ed and fellow grafters: I can only add this --- re storing scions in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator -- do not store with apples or other produce that emit ethylene (a powerful plant hormone). Ethylene will deteriorate the scions longevity and their vigor. Of course this effect is chemical/biological and hence it increases with time. Short storage, a few days, does not matter. Months do.
Harvest any dormant scions now. Plants that evergreen you can wait closer to the exchange. With our scion exchanges coming up in March and folks talking about grafting I wanted to share some info about the grafting film that I use. When I started grafting in the 80s I bought a huge roll of Parafilm M to use for my grafting. It gave me lots of success for many years but the past 5 years I have switched to a similar product that I think is superior to Parafilm M it is Buddy Tape. I find it to be easier to use and more successful grafts! I only whip and cleft graft. This product has been the best in my opinion for these grafts. I like the fact you can complete your graft and pretty much forget about it. You don't have to go back later and cut it loose or remove it. It will biodegrade. The only draw back is its hard to find sometimes and can be expensive. This is not the only successful way to graft but has been the best method for me!
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