Monday, April 29, 2019

Grafting a tree to produce scionwood

    Whenever I graft a large seedling pecan tree over to a new cultivar, I usually place a single graft on the central leader and leave some lower limbs on the tree to provide photosynthetic energy for the root system.  As the new scion grows, I slowly remove the lower limbs below the graft union (one limb per year). However, with the tree pictured at right, I wanted to create a tree that could produce as much scionwood (new shoots of the new cultivar) as possible. This means placing a graft on every major side limb as well as the central leader. I guess you can call this an "extreme tree makeover".
   My first step was to cut back all the major branches to provide me with multiple places to attach bark grafts (photo at left). The central leader was about 2 inches in diameter while the side limbs varied in size from 1.25 to 1.5 inches in diameter. At this point, it looks like I've made great place to hang my hat and coat.  
    It took a little time, but I placed 4 bark grafts on this tree (photo at right). I used my standard bark grafting method. When deciding where to insert the scions on the side branches, I made sure that I could work on the graft union without my tools bumping into the main trunk.
    Not only is a "de-horned" tree an ideal place to hang a hat but it makes a great place for birds to perch. To protect each graft I installed a "bird perch" on each graft. Using electrical tape, I attached a bamboo stake adjacent to the scion in such a way to prevent birds perching on the end of the scion and breaking them over (photo at left). 
    When completed, I had 4 grafts and 4 bird perches on one tree.  However, I could have grafted 4 trees in the time it took to graft this one tree. If I wasn't trying to build up some scionwood supplies, grafting the 3 lowers limbs would be a waste of time since all three would be removed at some point in the future (as the tree grows larger).
    The bottom line is that I'm just a grafting fool that loves to mess around with pecan trees and I like to give my neighbors something to talk about.