What is grafting?
When else but in the long winter evenings a gardener should start preparing for the new season, and first of all for one of the most difficult, in the opinion of many, gardening operations – grafting of fruit-trees.
One of the important methods of agrotechnics in horticulture is grafting and grafting of fruit trees. Grafting is the most common and fastest way of vegetative (asexual) propagation of orchard trees, when varietal features are preserved. Seed propagation, as we know, does not preserve varietal traits in most cases.
In horticulture, grafting is the transfer of a part of one plant – a cuttings or buds (this is a scion) to another plant (a scion) for mutual interbreeding. Any variety can be propagated in this way without changing its qualities. The natural method, i.e. sowing seeds, is used to obtain scions (scions), material for grafting. So it turns out that if you have on your site are uncultivated seedlings or trees of cultivated varieties, but with fruits that do not meet your wishes, then grafting can turn them into cultivated trees of good varieties.
Not only individual fruit tree species, but sometimes even their varieties require certain rootstocks. For apple trees, the best rootstocks are known to be seedlings of Antonovka, Anis and, what is especially attractive, seedlings of local resistant varieties, of which there are a great number even in the streets of Perm and other cities of the Urals and Western Siberia. Not a bad rootstock for apple trees is Chinaman, which has high frost resistance. If you want to grow a dwarf tree as a rootstock, take a weak-growing apple tree – paradiska, which is propagated by grafts.
For pear, the best grafts are seedlings of forest and usurian pear. Seedlings grafted on these rootstocks have been on sale in our climatic zone for several years. For plum, seedlings of local resistant varieties of plum and its root scions are good rootstock.
Ways of grafting fruit trees
About two hundred methods of grafting of garden plants are known from garden literature. Comparatively few of them are used in practical horticulture, in particular, in fruit growing. Fruit-tree grafting, its best methods can be divided into two main groups: grafting by an eye (bud) and grafting by a cuttings (shoot). Depending on the purpose of grafting, different parts of the plant – root, stump, trunk, fork and crown – can serve as grafting point on the rootstock. Naturally, we will get acquainted only with the most common methods of grafting, easily applicable in individual gardens, and about such types as winter grafting, rootstock grafting, grafting by convergence (ablaciation), we should talk about another time. Now we are more interested in grafting carried out in spring and summer, because they are the most accessible.
First of all about the tools and materials needed in these operations. They are actually not numerous: an okulirovochni and kopulirovochni knives, a curved garden knife, garden shears (pruning shears), a hacksaw and a hatchet or chisel for splitting stumps, and also a garden warp and material for tying.
How to do perching
One of the basic methods of grafting is to graft with a bud, an eye. This method is suitable for almost all breeds of fruit trees. It is the least traumatic for the scion, is done faster, and in case of failure, the scion is saved for subsequent grafting. Trees with crown-forming branches no thicker than 1 cm are suitable for grafting – cuttings are used for thicker branches. The cuttings for grafting are cut at an angle, and the immature top and leaf laminae are immediately removed, leaving the petioles with a length of 10-15 mm. Store or transport such cuttings in a cool place, covered with damp burlap. If there are many cuttings and the work with them continues for one or two days, the cuttings are placed by stumps in a bucket 1/4 filled with water.
It is impossible to establish the exact timing of cotyledons, as the maturation of buds and cuttings depends on local climatic conditions. For the zone of the Western Urals this is the end of July – first half of August, it is better to perform the perching at an earlier of these dates, as if unsuccessful, the perching can be repeated.
Now on to how to do the perching. When coppicing, a bud (eyelet) with its surrounding bark and part of the wood (shield) is removed from an annual shoot and transferred to the rootstock by barking and buttressing. To cut the shield, the cuttings are taken in the left hand with the butt toward you, and an incision is made 1.5-2 cm above the bud. The same incision is made below the bud. Then, starting from the top or bottom (as convenient), going deeper into the wood and coming to the surface, separate the shield from the stem. The removed shield is taken by the petiole with the left hand. After that, a transverse and then a longitudinal bark cut in the shape of the letter T is made on the bark of the rootstock. Slightly (with a knife!) separate the edges of the bark and push the shield from above until it fits all the way behind the bark. The edges of the cut are lightly crimped from the edges and immediately tied tightly with a strip of polyethylene film, and the bud should remain free of the tie. Caulk is not used when perching.
When the thickness of the branches and the condition of the bark do not allow grafting by the eye, grafting by the bark is used. Only trees or individual branches that are much thicker than the thickness of the cuttings can be grafted under the bark. Inoculation with cuttings behind the bark is performed when the trees are just waking up, and continues until the sap starts to flow intensively. Cuttings for grafting should be at rest or in a waking state and can have from one to four to five buds.
For grafting, a branch of rootstock is cut on a stump with a saw or secateurs, the cut is cleaned with a horticultural knife. On the stump, from the cut down to the length of about 2.5 cm, the bark is notched to the wood, then the notched bark is slightly separated from the top with the end of the knife. At the lower end of the stump, make an oblique cut up to 3 cm long and push it behind the bark. In one stump, depending on its thickness, two, three or more cuttings can be grafted behind the bark, using one, common for all cuttings, tying. The tying is applied quite tightly, and then the grafting place is covered with putty (garden varnish).
What is copulating
Now a few words about copulation – grafting, applicable to very thin rootstock, on which other grafting is difficult to perform. It makes it possible to use dauberries earlier and to get cultivated Trees from them much earlier. Copulatory grafting differs sharply from grafting behind the bark, not only technically, but also in terms of timing. It is done when seedlings are in a state of complete dormancy, i.e. in early spring before bud blossoming or in winter indoors. Using copulization, you can gather many varieties on one tree, grafting them on the ends of thin branches and on shoots without disturbing the appearance of the crown. Cuttings grafted before sap starts to develop will root well and can even produce a crop another year. But about how to do copulation, we will tell you next time.
Properly take care of grafted plants
About the care of grafted plants. Care consists of checking the accepted eyes, weakening and removal of bandages. Eye engraftment can be ascertained 8-12 days after budding. If the perching is successful, the eyelet is quite fresh and the leaf petiole has fallen away from the shield or falls off easily when touched. If the perching is unsuccessful, the petiole does not fall off, but withers with the eye.
As the rootstock thickens, the tying cuts deep into the trunk, so the tying is loosened after 20 days by turning it in the direction of loosening or replacing it with a new one. When strapping with polyethylene film strapping is left for the winter, which contributes to better protection of eyelets from getting wet. In the spring, remove the wrapping from the accepted eyelets, and cut off the lower part of the scion (above the grafting place) before the sap starts to flow. Subsequently, care of the young shoot consists in destroying the wild shoots that appear all over the bole and below the grafting place. If this is not done, the growth of cultivated shoots will be suppressed.
I have one last point to make about any vaccinations. To a very large extent, success is determined by the quickness of manipulation and cleanliness. The horticulturist can use a weak solution of manganese solution to disinfect the tools and bark of the rootstock before grafting.