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Have you done any grafting this year? It’s so nice when things work as they should in the fruit tree nursery.

The winter grafting in Carr’s Organic Fruit Tree Nursery (our on-farm fruit tree nursery) is usually done in September. By November we can see whether they worked or not.



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Excitingly, most of them usually do!

A visual measure of success

Grafting demands a certain measure of patience. Regardless of whether you’re using summer bud-grafting or winter grafting techniques, you have to wait to see whether it’s worked or not.

The waiting is always a time of some trepidation. But in the end, there’s no “maybe”. You’ll be able to clearly see whether your grafting worked or not.

You’re going to be faced with irrefutable evidence of the quality of your grafting technique.

A successful grafted cherry tree in the nursery
A successful grafted cherry tree in the nursery

We’re very familiar with this feeling. Our fruit tree nursery mentor (and Katie’s dad) Merv is always there teaching and advising us. But he’s handed over the actual grafting to us – so there’s no hiding. The success or failure is ours to own.

It’s the same for our Grow Great Fruit members. We teach the techniques and are there to mentor them, but they’re the ones who actually have to practice the knife skills.

So it’s incredibly satisfying for us when the success rate (either here on the farm or in our member’s gardens) is good.

Bud-grafting involves the longest wait time. This technique is done in summer, usually around February for us. But you don’t get confirmation on whether it was successful until the following spring.

Grafting aftercare (and other spring jobs)

All grafting requires some careful aftercare. For example, in late winter you need to check whether the buds you grafted the previous summer have “taken”.

If they’re still looking green and sprightly, it’s OK to cut the rootstock back to the bud grafting site. But it’s not a guarantee, and the bud may still die back.

So you’re never really sure of success unless you see lovely new growth coming from the bud like this:

Looking for pruning success

While you’re in the garden checking your grafts, spring is also a great time to keep an eye on your young fruit trees, especially monitoring the establishment pruning cuts that you (hopefully) made in winter.

The point of establishment pruning is to create new branches, in the desired location in the tree. Spring is the best time to notice whether they’ve produced the desired effect.

Wondering what you’re looking for? Here’s an ideal result in a young cherry tree in our orchard.

A headed branches with three new shoots
A headed branch with three new shoots

If you look carefully in the middle of the leaves you’ll notice where the main branch has previously been cut. Directly below the cut, you’ll see that three shoots have started growing.

This will create three new branches in this young cherry tree exactly where we want them.

Success is so satisfying!

Related Articles

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Use this foolproof 7-step method for pruning fruit trees. Learn how to keep your trees happy and productive with ease and confidence.

read more
Time to bud graft…

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A little bit Frankenstein, a little bit God – bud grafting fruit trees in the nursery is the best way to create edible multi-graft monsters.

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