Fruit trees can be propagated through seeds of the fruit or by the method of grafting. A graft is a horticultural term used for propagation of plants, shrubs, and trees. Grafting is more popular for the purpose of propagation, as it easily replicates all the qualities and properties of the mother plant or scion.
World over, horticulturists prefer grafting as a way to propagate and create successful crossbreeds of similar plants. In this method of propagation, a stem (scion) with a base nodal and healthy leaf buds of one variety or species of a plant is inserted or positioned onto the stem of another compatible plant.
This recipient is called the stock (branch). The tissues of the graft and stock fuse into one another because of the moisture covering provided to them. The grafted stem starts to grow roots in the stock. The new propagated stem (plant) will carny genes or properties from itself as well as the stock. One can graft trees, shrubs, as well as flowers too.
Advantages of Grafting
Grafting requires patience, intensive labor, and lots of practice. Following are a few reasons why grafting scores over all other methods of propagation:
- It enables one replicate the qualities of the original cultivator.
- It helps combine attributes of more than one variety in a single plant.
- Depending on the type of stock chosen, the graft can be transmitted disease-resistant or hardiness properties.
- Grafting helps reduce the time taken for the production of fruits.
- Dwarf fruit trees can be cultivated using specific stocks or inter-stems.
Different Ways of Grafting
In this method, only a single bud is taken from the desired scion. Budding has one major requirement to do well, the scion and stock should have compatible properties. As a single bud is being grafted, care should be taken to ensure no contamination gets added while inserting it in the stock.
The bud is inserted into a shallow cut made under the rind of the stock. The bud is sealed with moisture-retaining material (dampened gunny or jute fabric) and held in place.
Stub grafting requires at least a minimum of 5 to 6 buds, and one healthy branch. Depending on the number of buds, clean cut incisions are made on the branch. The buds are then inserted in different cuts and sealed with moisture sealers.
The branch is given a clean lateral cut and inserted into the stock at 35°, in a wedge between two branches of the stock tree. Positioned this way, the branch will not need support to stay in place. All buds inserted in the branch must face upwards and be equally distributed.
A stock with at least 4 to 5 buds and 3 - 7 cm in diameter is cut open from the middle, and two scions are placed in it, to allow close proximity between the cambium layers of scion and stock. The stock is covered completely with the grafting material.
As mentioned earlier, grafting requires patience and practice. Many times, grafts fail to grow. This could be because of incompatibility between the stock or scion or drying out of the cambiums.
Your grafting tools may not be sharp and could have caused damage to the scions. Each graft failure would teach one the correct mechanism needed to be successful. And when you graft a fruit tree successfully, your joy will have no bounds.