[NAFEX] Splice grafting, knifes & more.

Jwlehman at aol.com Jwlehman at aol.com
Thu Mar 11 08:03:29 EST 2004

In a message dated 3/10/2004 1:12:41 AM US Eastern Standard Time, 
pinewoodel at hotmail.com writes:

> When I make my whip cut for a whip and tongue graft, I notice that there 
> >is often a slight curl, or cup, to my cuts.  The cut starts at a steeper 
> >angle and then becomes more shallow. 

My personal belief is too much emphasis is placed on the knife. I've been 
using a Stanley utility knife for years. Lost my "grafters knife" in a house fire 
over twenty years ago and never replaced it. It takes a steady hand and 
experience to draw through the cut evenly regardless of the knife, but it must be 
very sharp. Practice, practice, practice. Take twenty or thirty pieces of apple 
(soft) and practice. 

If your first draw through the wood isn't flat and straight you can adjust or 
trim it, no problem. Even if the surfaces aren't perfectly flat on a splice 
graft the grafting rubber will help pull the surfaces together. Most fruit 
woods are soft and forgiving. Hard wood such as hickory may not give as much, but 
pull the rubber tight. I've pulled grafting rubbers so tight that when they 
callous it does so between the wraps and you get a ripple effect. Simply cut the 
rubber if it hasn't decayed or self broken.   

If been watching the discussion of the use of masking tape. I'd never ever 
use masking tape because it doesn't hold an even firm pressure on the graft. 
Also it is more apt to allow moisture to escape before the graft callouses 
together.  Yes, it will work if applied correctly but it can make the difference of 
maybe 20 to 30% fewer takes, just a guess, but why use a method to reduce your 
success numbers what ever the reduction is?  

If you don't have grafting rubbers, an ordinary rubber band will work (better 
than masking tape) but remember to cut it off in about three weeks after the 
bud pushes through. Grafting rubbers are specially formulated to decay in the 
suns UV, office rubber bands aren't. 

Bind the splice graft with a grafting rubber. Then cover with Parafilm, a 
medical product that when stretched and wrapped the overlapping seals in moisture 
while allowing gasses to escape. Cover the entire graft with it. The bud 
pushes through, no problem, every time. Unless of course you but a huge number of 
wraps on it. But I've even had buds push through Parafilm and aluminum foil 
that was covering that to keep the graft cool in the sun.     

A few times I've had a bark graft fail, but because it was covered with 
Parafilm the scion wood was preserved so well that I removed it, recut the scion 
wood and understock for fresh surfaces, reinserted and it took. 

Size is important. Pencil size or larger. Yes, smaller wood can also callous, 
but again why use smaller wood that reduces the chances of success 
percentage? Bill Davie, a nurseryman and active NAFEX member from PA, now deceased, did 
an experiment. He girdled a tree with a chain saw and found it tries to heal 
itself by growing callous from the top down. When he made two cuts about 6 
inches apart only the top cut tried to callous. The conclusion was that callousing 
begins at the top therefore the energy to begin healing the graft comes from 
the scion. If that scion is small (low stored energy) or too dehydrated or it 
dehydrates before callousing is sufficient for the transfer of nutrients from 
the understock to scion, the chances of failure increases.     

Any disagreements?

Jerry Lehman  
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