[NAFEX] Tips for budding citrus

philip sauber mrtejas at lycos.com
Sun May 11 10:07:20 EDT 2003

Tips on how to t-bud citrus
Many of these hints may be helpful to budding apples, pears, and persimmons.  I have used them to good success to bud persimmon and pears.

- Harvest trifoliate fruit when ripe. Wash and then seeds soak in 120F water for 5-10 minutes to kill molds. Dry seeds on paper towels over night, add a little powdered fungicide, put in closed zip-lock bag in refrigerator until ready to plant in the spring.
- Use a good potting mix=> 1/2 coarse river sand, 1/4 composted pine grit, and 1/4 sandy loam. 
- Grow the trifoliate rootstock the first year en masse in a 3 gallon pot
- Grow the trifoliate rootstock in the nursery row the second year to pencil size.
- Avoid sour orange as rootstock for Satsuma since it will not be as hardy. 
- Satsuma trees from the Texas Rio Grande Valley are grafted on sour orange and are not hardy enough for Houston. 
- Budwood should be from a tree that is mature and bearing fruit. 
- Budwood from the top of the tree is best. 
- Use 2nd to last growth flush wood 
- Budwood should not easily bend between your fingers or be springy 
- Budwood should be round and about same size as rootstock or pencil thickness.
- Don't use first bud closest to 3rd growth flush, it may not have a bud or is a  blind bud. 
        If you look carefully you can see they don't have a bud. 
- Budwood should have some woody streaks but just a few, too many and the bud might not force easily. 
- Buds from the State of Texas budwood registry should be used ASAP after receiving them. However, they will last 1-2 months in the refrigerator. 
- For best results the bud should be in a chip that is about an inch long even though it may be pretty narrow. 
- Leave bud wrapped at least 3 weeks in spring and 6 weeks in the fall at least. If bud stayed green then it took. 
- Keep budding knife razor sharp.
- Dip budding knife/clippers in 10% clorox solution when changing scions to avoid spreading viruses like tristezia.
Bark Slipping
- Temperature must be below 90F in the fall, but before two nights in the 50sF stop the trifoliate bark from slipping
- This is from September 15-October 15 for the Houston, TX area.
- Trifoliate rootstock won't slip bark in Houston area until April
- Start budding in the spring when the bark slips but before temperatures get to 90F.
- Bark must be slipping on rootstock very easily or even a good bud won't take.
- Even in the spring, if the trifoliate is not growing rapidly, the bark will not slip well enough to t-bud.
- Fertilize trifoliate with full strength miracle grow (1 tablespoon per gallon of water) twice a week to get rapid growth in the spring starting March 1. 
Forcing the Bud
- Force the bud in the spring. 
- Buds forced in the fall will be tender all winter and won't grow much anyway during the winter.
- When forcing the bud, leave a few trifoliate leaves above the bud. This will ensure you don’t lose the rootstock if the bud fails. 
- Cut off about 2" above the graft when forcing the bud. This gives a better chance of the bud surviving if the trifoliate dies a little below the cut. 
Other Considerations
- Collecting wild trifoliate trees won't get you many that the bark will slip on since they are probably 3 or 4 years old, a good trifoliate for t-budding needs be a 2 year seedling that is growing vigorously about pencil thickness. 
- If you follow the rules for t-budding you should get close to 100% take.
Cleft Grafting
- Try cleft grafting in March for best results just before deciduous trees leaf out. Other times of year won't be as successful. 
- Don't use a budstick that has more than 3 buds on it. Wrap the graft with grafting tape and then cover the scion wood with parafilm or cover with a polyethylene baggie and use a twisty to seal it off.  Poke a few small holes in the bag to avoid excess moisture.
Growing Notes
Too low of pH Tree has healthy green leaves but does not grow
Too high of pH Tree has sickly looking leaves and does not grow


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