Step-by-step: grafting a fruit tree

Step-by-step: grafting a fruit tree

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To obtain a new fruit tree, it is necessary, with a few exceptions (apricot, vine peach, etc.), to use the grafting technique when cuttings are impossible. Indeed, when a fruit falls to the ground and it causes the regrowth of a new subject, the fruits of the latter will not be as deserving, or even inedible. The transplant makes it possible to obtain exactly the same individual as the one we want to reproduce. For this we use a rootstock, that is to say a wild or cultivated tree, which will serve as support for the graft which is a piece of the tree to duplicate. The graft consists in making a weld of these two elements. Of course, the rootstock must be compatible with the graft to allow the graft to be taken. In this case, a cherry has given birth to a small cherry tree. It is this two-year-old cherry tree that we are going to cut to introduce a piece of the cherry tree that we want to reproduce. The advantage is that the tree that will serve as a support for the graft has grown on its own and is likely to be perfectly adapted to the soil on which it spontaneously grew. The technique has nothing complicated, it is within everyone's reach, but it can sometimes "miss". For this reason, we reassure ourselves by saying that it is a matter for specialists. Do you really believe it? Anyway, it is better to arm all the same with their good advice before embarking on the adventure. You may discover on this occasion that Mother Nature is often forgiving of our mistakes. The split graft has a better chance of recovery if done in the fall, but is entirely possible in early spring. Difficulty : easy, but not guaranteed Cost : free, or the price of the rootstock (less than 2 euros each), and approx. 10 euros per jar of putty to graft. Pre requisite : a rootstock and 2 compatible grafts Tools required : - A saw - A sharp prong or knife - A mallet or hammer - Graft putty or mineral earth (clay) - Raffia, string or tape - A flat screwdriver or a wooden wedge

Step 1: Take the grafts

On the cherry tree that we want to reproduce, cut a few twigs of the year, including at least 2 or 3 eyes. The eyes are the small buds on the branch. The cut must be made before the sap rises. The operation can be done from December to February. We can keep these twigs in bundles, planted vertically in the ground in the shade of a wall (especially no sun). The buds should not be buried, we will preferably use the central part of these twigs to make our grafts, removing the buried part with dirt.

Step 2: Get a rootstock

If you do not have a rootstock, know that it is not found in a garden center, these sell trees already grafted. You have to ask a neighbor, failing that a nurseryman who accepts the sale to individuals. Generally, they do not sell at retail, which is embarrassing if you cannot group together with gardeners to buy a lot. The diameter of the rootstock must be of sufficient diameter to receive the two grafts if you perform a double slit graft. After the operation, the rootstock will produce gourmands that must be removed regularly.

Step 3: Saw off the rootstock

Saw your rootstock to the desired height. Using the cloth or your knife, polish the section perfectly.

Step 4: Split the rootstock

Make a slit 3 to 5 cm deep, depending on the diameter of the rootstock. Use the mallet to hammer the blade in with light taps. This slot will receive the two grafts. Do not descend too far at the risk of splitting the trunk. Now keep the slot open by sliding the small wooden bevel or a screwdriver into it. You have to force a little to cause a slight separation, and maybe play the mallet a second time, so that when removing the bevel, the trunk comes to tighten on the grafts.

Step 5: Cut the grafts

Using the pruning knife or knife, cut the two grafts - just under a bud -, so as to form a bevel on their lower end. Make 2 symmetrical bevels on each side about 3 times the diameter of the graft. Make sure that the 2 bevels of the 2 grafts are cut identically, otherwise the pressure will not be uniform and one of them will not be sufficiently in contact when you remove the wooden wedge (or the screwdriver) . Repeat if this is not the case. The best is to train beforehand on a few branches so as not to undermine your capital. The notch made, cut the upper part leaving 2 or 3 eyes.

Step 6: Insert the plugins

This is a delicate step, especially if your subject is small. Do not damage the outer shell of the graft or that of the rootstock, and especially avoid splitting the latter at the risk of causing premature drying of the grafts. The two generating zones - called cambium -, grafts and rootstock must touch. The cambium is the distinct area of ​​plant tissue marking the boundary between the wood and the bark. For this, the graft - whose circumference is more curved than that of the rootstock -, should be placed slightly outside the rootstock as shown in the drawing. This is where the sap will go up when the buds are budding. If the transplant is successful, one of the two grafts - the weakest - will have to be removed the following spring.

Step 7: Tie up

If the compression is sufficient, especially if the section is large, it is not necessary to tie, but do it nevertheless for a small subject. Wrap the raffia around the rootstock and tighten.

Step 8: Glaze

Spread the putty to cover the wounds. Its role is to prevent the grafts from drying out and to protect the operation from external attacks. Also apply to the top of the grafts if you cut it. If you use mineral earth (often clayey), make a cone at the top of the rootstock using a piece of rigid plastic which you will fix to the ligature with tape. Pour the clay into the cone and make sure it does not dry out for the first few days.

Step 9: Protect and Guard

The grafts are fragile, and can very well break under the effect of the wind or the weight of a bird. For this, it is better to stake, which will also offer protection against birds.

In case of failure

Wait 2 months to find out if the transplant has really taken. If not, let the gourmands develop to ensure the survival of the rootstock. You may want to consider starting again the following year or the second year, when the rootstock has recovered from its fright.
To give you an idea of ​​nature's indulgence towards amateur gardeners. Here is a double transplant which finally took despite many errors: - The transplant was performed well before the start of spring, in February in mountainous regions. - The 2 grafts were removed the minutes before the transplant. - A bird - probably a variable buzzard very present in the surroundings - landed on the rootstock. One graft was snapped, and the other folded sideways. - To repair the damage, the rootstock was tied with wire which was removed too late, visible at the blister of the rootstock. And yet ...