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Learn to graft fruit trees (seasonal)

Learn to graft fruit trees (seasonal)

Grow your knowledge of fruit tree cloning through the ancient art of grafting. Learn by seeing and doing with hands on examples and one on one tuition and explanation. We will cover:
  • Collecting and storing grafting (scion) wood from desired trees
  • Understanding and propagating rootstocks
  • Grafting tools and techniques
  • View many examples of grafted trees of various types, complexity and age
2 hours
  July   August   September  
Rootstock compatibility for different types of tree

Rootstock compatibility for different types of tree

Scions of desirable species must be grafted onto a suitable, compatible root system or ultimately the graft with be rejected by the host tree.
The roots determine to size, growth rate and suitable soil conditions for the tree while the scion controls the flowers and fruit type and timing.
Most are only self compatible and so apple must be grafted to apple but as usual there are exceptions such as almonds onto peach.
Collecting, storing and posting scion wood

Collecting, storing and posting scion wood

Scion wood is collected during the dormant season from shoots that grew the previous year. In North Canterbury that is June - July. Vigorous growth of at least a 30 centimetres make the best scions. Water sprouts from up in the tree usually make good straight scions. Do not collect scion wood while it is frozen, and avoid wood that has been damaged by cold.

After cutting, scions should be tied in bundles, labelled, and stored under moist conditions in a temperature range of 4 to 7c. Bundles wrapped with damp paper towelling, sealed in plastic bags, and placed in a refrigerator store well providing it does not contain apples, pears, or other ethylene gas-generating fruit, as this is reputed to ruin the scion wood. However, wood sealed in plastic bags may not be affected?

Grafting time
Choosing when to graft can be tricky. What you want to be doing is performing the graft when the host tree or rootstock is waking up in the spring and the sap is rising and buds starting to swell, prior to blossom or leaf burst. Generally the grafting proceeds in the same order the trees flower and fruit, but earlier. Starting in mid to late august with almond followed by cherry, plum, peach & nectarine, nashi, pear and finally apple in late September.

At grafting time, cut off and discard the tip and base of the scion. Buds near the tip are often flower buds, and those near the base are often weak buds. The remaining portion of the stem is used to make scions each containing three to five buds.

Direct or Green Grafting
Scions of apple and pear (possibly others?) can be collected and grafted immediately in early spring. Mid August to mid October in North Canterbury

When we send scions they are bundled and labelled, sealed in a resealable bag with a wad of damp paper.

Grafting calendar

There are 2 main activities related to grafting that are season and weather specific.
  1. Collecting desired varieties of scion wood from healthy trees while they are dormant. For deciduous fruit and nut trees this is mid winter or late June to July in New Zealand
  2. Grafting the stored scions onto the appropriate rootstocks in early to mid spring when growth is commencing. Here in North Canterbury this is from early August to to mid October.

Correct timing is only part of the grafting process. Make sure you familiarise yourself with the technique, compatibility and after care for the best results.