Friday, May 22, 2015

Pruning off sprouts under new grafts

   Between all the rain showers we've been having this week, I've had some time to inspect the grafts I made late last month. All of my scions have sprouted and I'm hoping for a 99.9% grafting success rate (100% would be bragging!). Below the graft unions, I'm also seeing a profusion of rapidly growing sprouts that threaten to out-compete the scion for sunlight (photo at right). These stock sprouts have a reddish coloration, a characteristic of  juvenile pecan seedlings. The sprouts growing from the scion are fully green, the color of sexually mature pecan tissue.
   To make sure all the tree's root energy is focused on growing the scion, I use my pocket knife to cut off all the sprouts below the graft union. The photo at left shows a 3-flap graft before and after all stock sprouts were removed. The photo below shows a bark graft that was pruned to promote scion growth.
   The faster you get out in the field to prune off  competing stock sprouts, the more growth you'll push to your scion. Left unpruned, stock sprouts can over-grow a scion, shade out emerging buds, and eventually kill the graft.
    This week was been so wet its been hard to get anything done out on the farm. However, between rain storms, I'll pull on my rubber boots, hop in my 4WD utility vehicle, and head to the field to trim up some grafts.