Grafting Fruit Trees (cont)
By: Nan Sterman
Pruning and Pest Control
When we grafted, we covered our grafts with small paper bags to protect them from excessive sunlight. We checked them frequently to remove earwigs, sowbugs, and other critters that could eat new growth. We also pruned branches of the mother tree back by about 65 percent so that the tree would direct food energy into the newly grafted branches. We pinched flower buds from the new grafts to encourage strong, healthy branches rather than fruit the first spring. After that, we allowed the previous year's grafts to flower and fruit while we grafted even more varieties. Because some varieties grow more vigorously than others, long-term care includes additional careful pruning so that one or two varieties don't dominate a single tree.
If you have the patience and a sense of adventure, why not give grafting a try in the garden this year.
Photo courtesy of the USDA.