It was a sad day when I found our Tropic Sweet apple tree bent over to the side. Like anything else, life is about searching for the silver linings, and even though there was no way to bring the tree itself back, my hope was I could salvage some of the branches and graft them on to one of my other apple trees.
First let me say that although I’ve watched numerous Youtube videos, and read up on the subject, I am by no means an expert. Based on that, I’d give my chance of success at less than 50%. If it works, great. If not, no big deal…
Grafting is exactly what is sounds like. You’re taking cuttings from one tree and attaching them to another. Varieties from the same fruit species are interchangeable. So, I could take any of the apple trees I have a graft them on to one another.
Why graft? Maybe you had a damaged tree like I did, or you are trying to grow a tree from seed. The seed may produce an apple tree, but that tree won’t produce the same apple tree. To put it simply, fruit trees can’t be reproduced “true” to the original from seed. That’s just the way it works. They can only be reproduced by grafting. You might also want to graft if you have a tree that’s growing really well, but not producing the best fruit.
The best time to graft is in the spring when the buds are just starting to open. Here in Florida we don’t have much of a spring, so my graft was done late spring early summer.
These are the two pieces of scion wood that were salvaged from the Tropic Sweet. I cut them several weeks ago and placed them in the refrigerator until I was ready to do my grafting. Following the book, I probably should have left this in the refrigerator until next year, when I would have been able to start right before spring, but I didn’t feel like waiting. So, here goes..
Using something akin to the whip graft (not recommended for novices, but it seemed like the simplest method to me), I attached one to each of my Dorsett Golden apple trees. They were wrapped tightly with gardening tape and then coated with a tree wound dressing (petroleum based tar like substance, be careful not to get it on your skin).
Grafting carries with it a pretty high rate of failure, so only time will tell whether these will take. If you have a crab apple tree or something that isn’t producing the kind of fruit you’d like, check around. Usually you can find folks who will give you clipping from their trees. Here is great video on grafting apple trees, and there are any number of sites that offer good tips on how to properly graft. This is a particularly good one from the University of Minnesota extension.
Good or bad, I’ll update on on my progress. Happy gardening.