Spring harvesting of cuttings for grafting an apple tree


Cuttings for grafting apple trees can be harvested in late autumn or early spring. Many gardeners believe that cuttings will be better preserved in winter on a tree than in a cellar, and in the case of non-frosty winters, they are right. Therefore, already in March, when the time comes for spring pruning of fruit trees, cuttings can also be cut at the same time, after which they should be saved until the sap flow begins.

Harvesting apple cuttings for grafting in spring

Spring cutting of cuttings for grafting apple trees is possible after the end of severe frosts, which in most regions refers to mid-March, or even to the end of February. Since it is at this time that most gardeners carry out detailed pruning of trees, choosing the best cuttings is not a problem. Can I do this later? Yes, in principle, it is possible, it is only important to have time before bud break: in this case, all the work will be useless.

For thirty years now I have been grafting my trees from time to time, and quite successfully. I must say, I rarely harvest cuttings in advance. And although there is an opinion that the cut material must first lie down, most often it is necessary only in April (before the summer cottage it was impossible to get), when the sap flow began and the buds swelled, cut off the necessary cuttings from one tree and immediately graft onto another. Whether it is right or not, experts judge, but I have never experienced failure.

What cuttings to take for grafting an apple tree

Before choosing branches for harvesting cuttings, you need to correctly determine the donor apple tree. It is desirable that it was not yet an old tree, aged from 3 to 10 years. It was during these years that the apple tree is the strongest, healthiest, intensively growing. But since at the age of three, not every variety has time to bear fruit, it is better to wait to make sure that this tree is of the required variety.

Usually in March there is still snow, but at this time a well-groomed apple tree allows you to choose the right cuttings for grafting.

After all, how often it happens that we buy something that has been conceived for a long time, and we end up with another Melba or the North Sinap! These are, of course, good varieties, but the question is that even in nurseries, deliberate or accidental deception is possible. Therefore, when buying seedlings of fruit trees, I am never sure that I will get what I want until I collect the first fruits.

So, the apple tree gave the first apples, they turned out to be tasty, beautiful, let's wait another year. If the next year's harvest is already decent, you can definitely take cuttings from this tree for grafting. It is better to approach the apple tree from the most illuminated side: on it the branches ripen better, have greater growth vigor. Do not cut cuttings from the lowest and highest tiers. You need to choose strong annual shoots, thick, with short internodes.

You should not use tops for cutting cuttings (strong fatty shoots growing almost vertically upwards)! The grafting will most likely succeed, but the yield may be low, and the first apples will have to wait for many years.

All buds on the cut branches must be large, healthy, well developed. The terminal bud should also be strong, although it will not necessarily remain in the cuttings. If, after winter, leaves or even petioles remain on the branch, you should not take cuttings from it: such a branch, most likely, has matured poorly. The thickness of the cutting should be about 6–8 cm, cut sections with a length of 30 cm, with the number of buds at least four (the excess will be cut off when inoculated).

The main tool for cutting cuttings is a clean, sharp pruner; you can cut off a piece of a branch with a section of two-year-old wood, but only a one-year-old cutting can be used

When cutting cuttings, you need to carefully examine their core: any darkening, brown blotches may indicate freezing of the branches, such cuttings may not take root on a new tree. Naturally, there should be no damage on the bark, and the cuttings themselves should be practically straight, without strong bends.

Is it possible to take cuttings from an old tree 25 years old or more? Most likely, they will take root, but the choice of branches for grafting must be approached more responsibly, and more cuttings must be prepared. As a rule, the annual shoots themselves are thinner and shorter in this case, but not always their vigor on a new tree will be lower. Therefore, if there is no other choice, and the old tree is quite healthy, you can take cuttings from it.

Better to have the stalk thinner than optimal for grafting, it's still better than a thick top

Can cuttings be taken from biennial branches? Oddly enough, such vaccinations are sometimes obtained, although they are not recommended by specialists. Still, it is better not to risk it: a one-year growth can be found on any apple tree, and if it is practically absent, then the tree is so weak that it is better not to cut the cuttings from it.

Despite the fact that when pruning fruit trees, it is recommended to cover only slices with a diameter of more than 2 cm with garden varnish, it will be useful to cover up even the slices from cuttings, especially if they have been produced a lot, and there is not much time left before sap flow. The apple tree will more easily endure parting with its last year's growths.

Video: what should be a grafting stalk

Do I need to soak apple cuttings before grafting

Regardless of the timing of cutting the cuttings and how long they have been stored before grafting, it is best to refresh them before undertaking a critical operation. Although, ideally, properly preserved cuttings should be firm, retaining their original moisture, they should be soaked in sweetened water before grafting. Usually, even for perfectly preserved cuttings, 10–12 hours of soaking are needed, and even more for dried ones.

During soaking, the cuttings should be saturated with moisture. Indirect indicators that this happened are:

  • flexibility of cuttings when bending;
  • no crunch or crackle with the same procedure;
  • slight pushing of the bark when pressed with a fingernail;
  • appearance of moisture microdroplets when making a new cut on the handle.

The water for soaking should not be warm: it is better to use melted ice or snow water altogether. First, there are certain substances in the melt water that stimulate the growth of all living things, including the engraftment of grafts. Secondly, the cuttings must be saturated with water, but not cause early spilling of the kidneys, which can be stimulated by heating. Therefore, even for these 10–12 hours (in fact, at night), cuttings in sweet water should be refrigerated.

Some gardeners simply put the cuttings in a jar of water: you can do that, but it seems more correct to bathe them whole in a nutrient solution.

Why sweet? Why sugar? Yes, you can do without it, but, firstly, it is some carbohydrate feed for the cutting, stimulating its further life. Secondly, sugar forms a protective film on the cuttings cut, preventing rapid drying and penetration of pathogenic microbes into the cuttings. Therefore, adding 1-2 tablespoons per liter of water is still worth it.

Instead of sugar, you can use bee honey (1 tablespoon of flower honey per liter of water), which is even better, since it contains biologically active substances. They stimulate the growth of grafts and protect the cuttings from pathological microorganisms.

How to store apple cuttings for grafting

If the cuttings are cut at the end of February or in March, before sap flow, and several weeks remain before grafting (in the middle lane they are usually carried out in April), the cuttings must be properly preserved. This is not at all difficult: if there is a snow cover, they can be kept under the snow by specially throwing a pile of more so that it does not melt for a long time. You can save the cuttings in the cellar by wrapping them in a damp burlap or placing them in a damp substrate (peat, sand, sawdust). But this is done most often when harvesting cuttings in the autumn. Spring cuttings are easiest to store in your home refrigerator.

How many days are cuttings stored

With proper preparation and optimal storage conditions, the cuttings will not deteriorate as long as necessary. At least, cuttings cut both in November and in March (unless, of course, they are frozen in winter), perfectly survive until grafting. And to lie for a month in a refrigerator or cellar at a low above-zero temperature and sufficient humidity, cuttings with unawakened buds should be without problems.

If several varieties are sent for storage at once, it would be useful to sign them

However, they should be removed periodically and checked for integrity. In particular, add moisture if necessary, and if mold is noticed, wipe it off with a soft cloth and hold the cuttings for 15–20 minutes in a light solution of potassium permanganate.

Immediately before grafting, after taking out the cuttings from storage, they must be carefully examined. They should have fresh and even bark, the buds should be as lively as during the March harvest (perhaps slightly more swollen). The cuttings should bend slightly even without presoaking. More than a day before vaccination, it is not worth taking cuttings out of storage.

How to store apple cuttings in the refrigerator

You can store cuttings in the refrigerator at least all winter, and after spring harvesting, this is quite simple to do. It is important to place them on the shelf where the temperature will be in the range from +1 to +4 ° С. The most important thing is to properly prepare the substrate in which to put the cuttings. Best of all, they are stored in wet sawdust: so wet that if you squeeze them in a fist, the water from the sawdust will not pour out, but the hand will feel the water. Actually, if there is a possibility of periodic revision of cuttings, sawdust is also optional.

The easiest way is to place the cuttings in a plastic bag and tie it tightly, so they will last for several days. For longer storage, the cuttings, tied in a bundle, are wrapped with a damp coarse cloth, then with thick paper (you can also use several newspapers), and only then put in a plastic bag. For long-term storage, the bag should not be tightly tied, but once every 3-4 days, the cloth should be moistened with water if it dries up.

Video: harvesting cuttings in February and storing them in the snow

If there are no very frosty winters in the region, harvesting cuttings for grafting apple trees can be planned not for November, but at the beginning of spring. If you cut them according to all the rules, it will be quite simple to save until the vaccination itself, since the cuttings will lie perfectly in the refrigerator for several weeks.

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Rules for harvesting and storing apple cuttings for grafting in spring

Cuttings for grafting are harvested in autumn or spring. In autumn, this should be done when the movement of juices in the tree ends, that is, around the end of November. The question of whether it is worth cutting cuttings in winter is the subject of much controversy, so it is better not for a novice gardener to carry out such experiments.

In the spring, this should be done after the end of frost, when the circulation of the juice begins. Cuttings for grafting an apple tree can be taken during spring pruning, especially if it is a frost-resistant variety. On average, harvesting apple cuttings for grafting in the spring is best done in March, in the second half of the month, although this period may vary depending on the region and how long the winter was. It is necessary to prepare the grafting material before the buds bloom, otherwise there is almost no chance that it will take root. In general, it is recommended to harvest cuttings mainly in the fall - so there is less risk that the shoots will freeze in winter, after which they will no longer be useful for grafting.


Harvesting apple cuttings for grafting in the spring. When to harvest cuttings

Apple cuttings for grafting can be started at different times.

Most often, preparation is carried out in the fall (end of November). The most suitable time for harvesting is the period after the cessation of sap flow in the tree. This period begins after the apple tree has completely shed its leaves and entered a state of dormancy.

Some gardeners claim that harvesting can be done at the beginning of winter. For winter preparation of cuttings, the period from the beginning of winter to mid-January is suitable. After January, thaws may occur, and this will significantly worsen the survival rate of the cutting (it may not take root at all), which was cut during this period. There is an explanation for this phenomenon. It is believed that in this case, the movement of plastic substances to the tops of the shoot occurs when the sun warms up. They move to branches. Cutting such a branch and grafting it to the stock will be ineffective due to the fact that it already lacks the nutrients that are necessary for the grafting elements to grow together and callus build-up. Also, during the winter period, freezing of young shoots may occur.

Other gardeners claim that for effective grafting, apple stalks can be harvested in December or February, as well as in March. But in this case, the weather conditions should be taken into account. The air temperature at the time of cutting must be at least -10 degrees Celsius. It is this temperature that contributes to the best hardening of annual shoots. If harvesting is carried out at the beginning of winter, then it should be carried out after the first frost. If the winter was not very frosty, and the wood on the apple tree is not damaged, then the cutting can be harvested at the end of February or at the beginning of March.

Also, the scion can be prepared in the spring. In this case, young shoots are cut before the budding period. If the buds on the shoot have already blossomed, then they are not used for inoculation. In some cases, harvesting can be done during the March pruning of the apple tree.

Some gardeners suggest harvesting the cutting just before grafting it.

Grafting of apple cuttings can be carried out both in winter and in spring. The time of harvesting the scion directly depends on its time. If the grafting is carried out in winter, then the scion, respectively, is prepared at the beginning of winter, and if in the spring, then either at the beginning of winter or in early spring.

For winter-hardy apple varieties, both the preparation of the scion in the fall and in the winter is equally suitable.

Of all the harvesting periods listed above, 100% of the grafting result is obtained by harvesting cuttings at the beginning of winter.


  • To avoid confusion, sign each bundle twice. Write the name of the variety on one label, the serial number on the second. Wrap the labels with duct tape to protect them from moisture. And in a notebook, duplicate: number - name.
  • Freezing or early awakening should not be allowed. Monitor storage temperature. At rest, the cuttings will lie for a long time at 0 ... + 3 ° C.
  • It does not hurt to lubricate the cut of the cutting with garden var. This will help prevent drying out.

There are different ways to store cuttings depending on the area and your preferences.


Watch the video: How to Graft a Fruit Tree. Grafting American Persimmons for Wildlife and Humans


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