Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Training new grafts

   The grafts we made in late April are growing rapidly. Pecan trees seem to love this hot dry weather and new shoots are bursting out everywhere (photo at right). Now is a good time to do some pruning to direct all the tree's energy into establishing a strong central leader.
    In pruning a new graft, the first thing that must be done is to dig through all those leaves to discover which bud on the scion is growing the best. With this tree, the top bud on the scion had already grown 20 inches in height. The lower bud was not as vigorous, so we pruned it off. We also removed most but not all of the growth below the graft union (photo at right). Note that we use a bamboo stake attached to the tree to train the new central leader and prevent wind damage. The bamboo is 6 feet tall and makes a great training stake and bird perch (if  birds light on the tender central leader they can break out the terminal bud). It also looks like Sonja got a little carried away with the plastic tape we use to tie up the grafts.
    Here is a close-up of the graft union (photo at right). The red arrow points to the wound left behind after we pruned off the lower bud. Note the vigor of the shoot that developed from the upper bud. Looks like we'll have a 5-6 foot tall tree by the end of the summer.
   In a couple of weeks we will remove all growth below the graft union then cut off the grafting tape tied around the base of the scion. We don't want anything to slow this new graft down.