[NAFEX] Grafting in a Botany Class

Gene Spears Spears at LMC.edu
Thu Nov 5 09:35:07 EST 2009

	Thanks for your suggestions.  I like the idea of practice before actually doing and will take the warning about "cut fingers" to heart.  I'll look into the chip buds and see if they work on dormant wood (but I guess they really wouldn't have to "work" if it's just practice, anyway).

Thanks again,


Gene Spears
Professor of Biology
Lees-McRae College
PO Box 128
Banner Elk, NC 28604
Phone: 828-898-8744
Fax:     828-898-8814
Email:  spears at lmc.edu
Web:   www.LMC.edu 

-----Original Message-----
From: nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Kieran &/or Donna
Sent: Thursday, November 05, 2009 9:12 AM
To: North American Fruit Explorers
Subject: Re: [NAFEX] Grafting in a Botany Class

    I'd go the other way actually, as you are supposed to do bud grafts 
while the bark is slipping.  I think even chip buds should be done during 
active growth.... anyone else on that?  Chip buds are certainly easy to do. 
Here's what I think about it.  As much as you'd like your students to go 
home with trees ready to plant, that may prove to be very difficult and 
complicated.  And anyway, even if you do manage to do that, your students 
should practice before doing the actual grafts.  And that means going out 
and cutting some branches of something fairly suitable and straight for them 
to practice on.  You can show them simple whip grafts grafts and chip buds, 
the 2 most practical grafts if the bark isn't slipping, and a bark graft if 
you can get the bark to slip on anything this time of year.  (Hint, water 
well in the week beforehand.)  It doesn't matter all that much if they get 
to work on real rootstocks, as long as they have had the practice they will 
feel much more comfortable trying it for the first time in real life.  With 
a pile of fresh cut branches and a cheap utility knife for each student, 
some rubber bands, some parafilm, maybe some white plastic grocery bags, and 
masking tape you all can have a blast.  The technical tricks are to select a 
good scion, to guesstimate where to cut to make a perfect matchup, and to 
fasten things together well.  Sterility is not important, someone put an 
interesting article in Pomona years ago in which they deliberately 
contaminated grafts with various substances and had no obvious effects on 
the % of takes.  Those utility knives are often greased, something that used 
to worry me.  If everyone had to make 5 chip buds and 5 whip grafts, they'd 
be pretty busy.  Be sure to show them, via diagrams, how to do bark budding, 
as it is so useful, and be sure to show them what non slipping bark acts 
like.  If you can find anything at all that is still slipping that time of 
year, be sure to bring it in to show them, or even to work with.  I usually 
show people splice grafts using maple branches, just because they are handy 
and straight.  Crabapple and peach could be good material, and plum.
     I cut rubber bands and use them like budding rubbers, as budding 
rubbers are sold by the 1,000.  When I do an iffy graft, scion not quite 
dormant anymore, and when I did the juniper grafts this spring, I wrap a wad 
of wet newspaper around the stock just below the graft and then tie a white 
plastic grocery bag over it.  I usually use no parafilm in this case, and 
give it plenty of time to get going before I take the bag off.  Whip and 
tongue grafts are sure fire ways to get cut fingers, I just don't do them 
anymore.  They are so much harder to do right anyway, I think the tendency 
of most books to feature diagrams of that graft in particular are 
discouraging to beginners.  Donna 

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