The gem graft
Also known as the eye or the shield, it is certainly the most widespread grafting technique both for its easy execution and for the excellent rooting it offers.
This grafting method is divided into two types:
a) a dormant bud
b) a vegetating bud
The bud graft is practiced during the vegetative slowing phase from August to September. Preliminarily it is necessary to clean the trunk from the leaves and from possible branches for a length of about 10 cm. The gentle must therefore be chosen: the branch must be well vigorous and in good health. In practicing the grafting it is necessary to try to remove the bud avoiding to tear the tissues (if possible, when removing the bud, also remove a piece of wood in order to facilitate grafting operations).
Make an incision in the T-shaped rootstock, 1-2 cm wide and 2-3 cm long. Carefully lift the edges of the incision (using the grafting machine) and finally insert the gent in the slot, checking the polarity.
Make sure the gearshift areas are in close contact with each other and tie gently with the help of raffia or special patches readily available on the market.
If the grafting has happened successfully after a short time the gem of the gentile will give rise to a new plant. Cut the trunk only when it is certain that the graft is well rooted and proceed with cutting the rootstock above the graft, taking care to respect the bud of the graft.
The crown graft
Use a saw to make a cut of the rootstock to form a flat surface. Then make a cut perpendicular to the previous one and gently lift the gearbox. Insert the previously prepared scion into the slot. The scion will be cut "pen" and must be about 10 cm with four or five buds.
It is advisable to place more than one scion in relation to the size of the rootstock diameter, usually two or four.
Once done, the graft binds with raffia, making sure to cover the cuts with mastic.
The ideal time to practice this type of graft It is the month of April.
The split graft
Using a sharp object, make a split about 8/10 cm deep and then cut the wedge-shaped scape, making sure that the start of the cut has the same dimensions as the rootstock split.
Insert the scion in the gap, taking particular care to make the areas of the external change of the gentle match perfectly with that of the rootstock.
Tie tightly so that the scion does not move from its seat, cover with mastic, taking care to fill the gap.
The triangle graft
This grafting is the only one that takes place in full vegetative rest, that is in the months of January and February. The plants that adapt to this type of grafting are mainly the pear tree and the apple tree.
Make an incision in the wood in the shape of a triangle and prepare the scion with the same inclination as the cut. It is very important that the triangle is the same size as the inlay that we made on the graft holder (and this in order to increase the grafting of the graft).
Insert the scion in the inlay and tie with raffia and cover everything with putty.
It often happens that even those who are familiar with greenery and vegetative reproduction techniques are rather skeptical and fearful of grafting.
Instead, it is a fairly simple technique that can give a very good success rate, most often quickly (for example with respect to cuttings or gamic reproduction by seed).
This method allows to combine a root, the rootstock, strong and suitable for the most disparate soils and conditions (usually deriving from pure species) to an aerial part, the nesto, with better ornamental characteristics or with more palatable fruits. The only limit is that they must belong to the same species. Where the two parts come together a "callus" is formed, a kind of scar through which the sap begins to flow. These, even if combined, continue to maintain their characteristics. The advantages of this technique are many: it is simple and fast, the resulting specimen is stronger and enters production more quickly. Furthermore it is usually more adaptable to different terrain and climates.
Traditionally, the rootstock is obtained by sowing. Sometimes it is called wild because it is of uncertain derivation: the seeds used derive from spontaneous specimens whose origin is unknown. If, on the other hand, the seed derives from a known specimen whose peculiar characteristics are known, it is identified as franc. On a professional level, however (especially if good and uniform results are to be obtained) it is avoided to obtain the franc from seed. This is because different seeds produce different subjects: sometimes weak, others too vigorous. Today, therefore, we proceed by multiplying a carefully selected rootstock with the aim via agamic, that is cutting, layering or offshoot. It is then defined clonal rootstock.
How to choose the rootstock?
If we want to proceed at home we must first get the seeds from a fruit (or, in the case of ornamental, from a flower) grown in the area. This is very important because we will have more chances to obtain a rootstock suitable for our climate and our soil. The seeds are planted in boxes with a mixture of peat and agricultural vermiculite. After a short time we will get some seedlings that will be ready to be used as a rootstock after about 6 months - 1 year. However, let's not forget that some seeds need to spend a certain period of time outdoors in order to germinate (vernalization). As we have said, it is also possible to proceed with cuttings or offshoots.
How to choose the graft?
The choice of the specimen to be used as a graft is decisive. We must select healthy specimens and choose the gem or segment from a branch that is always very productive.
Graft scion or scudetto
The root is the part that gives rise to the crown of the tree or bush. At the beginning it can be a portion of branch of about 1 year called marza or a portion of bark and provided with a branch. In this case it is called a scudetto or eye. The slips must always be in vegetative rest. So, even if the grafting is done in the spring, you need to get the graft in the middle of winter. Once collected, the branches should be placed in wet sheets of newspaper and stored in the refrigerator or in a cold place.
When to make grafts?
Grafting can be done during the whole vegetative period. The ideal day is the dry and windless day, as this can be the cause of rapid early dehydration of the bud. In spring, on deciduous plants, it is necessary to proceed when it is noticed that the buds begin to hatch and the bark is easily detached from the trunk. If you proceed at this time the bud or graft will begin to vegetate within ten days.
If instead you decide to proceed in the autumn we will have a dormant gem graft: this will begin to vegetate the following spring.
Grafting in vegetables
Grafting can also be performed on herbaceous plants. It is rather a practice in the horticultural context. Peppers, tomatoes, aubergines and melons are often found for sale with this technique. It is usually performed on plants that need a lot of nourishment or that are easily affected by root system diseases. In this way it is possible to obtain more abundant crops and reduce the use of pesticides. The most used technique is the split technique. The graft must have at least one true leaf and must be inserted on the cotyledon leaves of the rootstock. They should be kept together with a small spring keeping humidity and temperature rather high.
Materials required for grafting
To make coupons grafts you need to have some essential tools.
The first is the knife: there are many on the market. It is absolutely essential that it be perfectly sharpened and disinfected for use. In fact, to get good success, absolutely avoid spreading diseases and viruses. An excellent disinfection product is unscented domestic bleach. If desired, we can manufacture the knife ourselves using a barber razor or a disposable razor blade. The important thing is that the cut is always clean, without smudging and the underlying fabrics are not compressed. For the grafts splitting it is necessary to have a billhook and a rubber mallet to make the slit in the trunk. It is also necessary to recover material to make the bindings. Usually natural raffia is used. It allows the passage of air, but not water and allows the plant to grow freely without being compressed. To protect the grafted grafts, the mastic is also indispensable, to be distributed on the surface concerned.
The most common grafting techniques
Eye or scudetto
A very smooth and gem-free area must be found on the rootstock, on the trunk or on a side branch.
On this one must make a T-shaped incision where the gem of the individual to be obtained must be inserted. This must be taken from the center of a branch by making a cut from the bottom to the top: it will then be cleaned of the excess wood without affecting the gem.
The portion must be inserted inside the T created in the rootstock, then joining the edges of the bark and binding tightly. However, the gem must be free to vegetate.
In practice it is a matter of replacing a part of the bark of the rootstock with a part of that of the graft.
It is a very simple technique and is recommended for those who want to begin to experiment with this practice.
It is first necessary to make two parallel transverse cuts on the rootstock and then proceed by removing the bark with the knife, from the bottom upwards. In the same way, a part of the bark is taken from the individual who wants to become the nesto. It must be as similar as possible in size to the other.
The two parts must be overlapped and then tied very tightly with adhesive tape.
After the bud is released, the part of the rootstock is cut above the point where we have inserted the bud.
It is widely used to graft plants with a limited diameter and is the most used for the vine.
The rooting rates are very high because the contact surface is very wide and the times are really short.
For the simple split it is sufficient to cut transversally both the rootstock and the graft. The diameter of the two must however be very similar. The two parts must be juxtaposed and then closely linked. Finally, everything is protected with mastic.
It is perhaps the oldest technique of grafting and the most used one because it is very adaptable. It is possible to combine plants of different sizes and ages. In this way it is also possible, for example, to use very old plants as rootstocks. The graft can be done directly on the trunk, but also on a lateral branch.
The scions must be about one year old and have a diameter of 2-3 cm.
First you need to cut the trunk or branch with a hacksaw. Everything must be carefully finished without leaving fraying that would compromise the final success.
Then a deep slit (at least two or three cm) is made in the center. Inside it is necessary to introduce the suitably wedge-shaped scions. They are usually about 10 cm long. Proceed with tying and covering with mastic.
It is a method used to replace an entire branch. An incision must be made at the base of the branch. In this a wedge-shaped scion is inserted. It is usually not necessary to tie because if the slit is deep enough the scion will be firm.
The overlying branch portion is immediately cut because it would prevent engraftment of the graft.
It is a graft suitable for all fruit trees, evergreens and ornamental plants. It can be done with a rather old plant as the subject. It is usually done in spring when the bark comes off very easily.
We need to trim the rootstock well and then incise the bark. This is where the scions (usually three) are inserted with a transverse cut that leaves a good contact surface available. Finally, they must be trimmed, tied and covered with mastic.
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