Grafting is a widespread agricultural practice for fruit trees, it allows you to obtain fruits of the desired quality and resistant plants, suitable for your chosen soil at the same time. In short, it is about join two parts of the plant (rootstock and graft).
Among the various techniques, the gem or shield graft is one of the simplest to make, feasible even by non-professional enthusiasts. When performed at the end of the summer it is called a dormant bud graft.
The dormant bud grafting is performed by taking one or more buds from the branches of a plant (slips) and inserting them into the rootstock under the bark, carving it with a cut of the same size as the bud. Let's find out the period in which to carry out this agricultural work and which plants are worth grafting in this way.
What does bud grafting mean
There are many grafting techniques, the dormant bud grafting is part of the family of bud grafts.
This term identifies those techniques that plan to use a gem as a graft of the mother plant, which is inserted under the bark of the rootstock. The gem can also be called a shield or eye, so let's talk about eye grafts or shield couplings, as a synonym for bud grafts.
Among the bud grafts we distinguish in particular:
- Vegetative bud grafts, which are carried out in spring, for example the flask graft.
- Dormant bud grafts, which instead are practiced at the end of the summer and which we will discuss in this article.
The dormant gem technique has the great advantage that the buds to be grafted are taken from the scions at the same time as grafting is performed, thus avoiding having to store the buds as it is necessary to do if a vegetative bud graft is performed.
The bud grafting is usually carried out in the nursery on the lower part of a seedling (seedling born from seed) or a rooted vine, approximately 10-12 cm from the ground.
After taking the shield you have to engrave the bark to be able to weld the bud to the rootstock.
The most popular and simplest method of engraving the bark is the T-joint, which is performed by making a T-shaped cut on the bark, making sure that it rises easily. For this to happen, it is necessary to ensure that the plant is in active vegetation, for the grafting to dormant bud the period of late summer is generally adequate.
In the event that the bark does not lift, it is possible revive the plant with some watering carried out two or three days apart from each other.
If desired, it is possible to carry out this type of bud grafting even on an adult plant, operating on the branches or, at the limit, on branches of a maximum of two years. In this case, however, the process is a little more difficult as the bark does not always lift easily, which is why other types of grafting are often used in the case of adult plants, such as splinter grafting.
Which plants can be bud grafted
In order for the grafting to take place successfully, it is important to respect some affinity rules between plants. Rootstock and scion must be compatible as a species, and also similar in vigor and age. When we talk about species, it refers to the species of the graft (in this case the bud), the rootstock can also be another plant, as long as there is compatibility.
I'm there are many trees that can be grafted with the dormant bud technique, in use both in the orchard and in the ornamental garden.
- Apple tree
- Almond tree
- Cherry tree
Period: when to do the grafting
While the vegetative bud grafts are performed in spring, the dormant bud graft is carried out at the end of the summer. In fact, the useful period to perform a dormant bud graft is between the end of August and the end of September, as long as the weather stays mild.
Some nurserymen not only take into account the weather, but also refer to the moon phase to choose the period in which to carry out the grafting. Although there is no scientific evidence on this, agricultural tradition has it that the grafting is carried out in the same phase of the moon in which the scion is taken, usually it is recommended to do the job in the waning moon, period in which the plant seems to suffer less from cuts.
How to perform the T-shaped dormant bud graft
Once the best time to perform the operation has been identified, we proceed with the grafting work. The dormant bud graft takes place in well-defined phases, let's see step by step how a classic T-graft is performed.
- Pick up the shield. The bud is usually taken from a one-year-old branch of medium vigor. In the dormant bud graft, the ideal is to detach from the mother possibly the same day you want to make the graft. The shield must never be taken from a sucker or from the tip of a plant that is too young, in general we avoid the apical buds. The shield is taken by holding the branch with the tip facing towards you and, with a well-sharpened grafting knife, the bud is cut along with a portion of bark. The cut must start no less than 1.5 cm below the bud and must be almost parallel to the axis of the branch which ends about 2 cm above it.
- Prepare the rootstock with T-cut. Secondly, the rootstock is prepared to receive the gem, by incising the bark with a longitudinal and a transversal cut, to form a T. Since the shield must be inserted into the bark through these cuts, the dimensions of the incisions must be equal to the gem taken. .
- Insert the shield into the cut. To insert the shield into the rootstock, the bark of the latter is lifted at the T-cut with the help of the nail of the knife. At this point the shield is inserted, pushing it down until the gem is about 1 cm below the transverse cut. Finally, the upper part of the shield is cut so that it fits perfectly with the transverse cut.
- Binding. The work is completed by firmly tightening the shield to the rootstock. This is done by making a binding with raffia or a sufficiently elastic plastic tape, completely wrapping the branch making sure to cover up to a few millimeters above the transverse cut and below the longitudinal cut. Clearly we tie leaving the gem free.
- Engraving. It can be verified that the dormant bud grafting was successful after a short time. If the graft has taken root, the shield retains its vitality and, in the period in which the leaves of the plant fall, the petiole easily detaches from the shield. If, on the other hand, the petiole dries up but does not detach easily then the graft has not taken root.
It's possible place two gems on top of each other to have greater certainty of taking root, it will then be necessary to use only one to form the plant.
One last tip: to graft a bud it is worthwhile place it on the north side of the plant, so that it is shaded. If the end of summer is still hot and sunny, the buds can dehydrate and not take root, which is why they benefit from the shade.