Monday, September 22, 2014

Grafting loquats

Remember the rare loquat tree I tried to save?

Well... it finally gave up. The top started to turn yellow and the leaves began to droop about a month and a half after I attempted bridge grafting the poor thing. Here, look:

That's pretty sad. Here's a close-up:

Obviously, at this point, the tree was not long for this world.

By God's grace I noticed what was happening before it went too far, so I cut off every stem tip.

The twigs in the glass of water have had all their leaves removed; the ones in my hand are about to get the same treatment.

Those little twigs are ready for a new life on a new host. Fortunately, I have lots of seedling loquats planted around the yard.

Like this one:

I learned at the Florida Earthskills Gathering earlier this year that one of the easiest ways to graft a loquat tree is to "veneer graft" it.

I started on this tree by removing a section of leaves from the middle of the trunk.

Then I picked out a twig from the donor tree that was close to the same diameter as the seedling tree and used my grafting knife (this really cool Opinel model) to make matching cuts on the budwood and the trunk.

I then joined them together:

A good fit is important. You want the bark on the budwood and on the tree to match up well so they can grow together. The layers just beneath the outer bark (the "xylem" and "phloem" - glad you asked!) transfer sap and will heal together as the graft takes. A tight wrap of grafting tape helps (I use this stuff - it's great) keep the bark together while preventing the budwood from drying out. I wrap all the way to the top. Since it's summer and brutally hot, I don't want to chance the grafts drying out and failing.

Once the leaves grow out on the bud and the graft appears to have healed, it's time to cut the original top of the tree off.

It's been a few weeks since I took the first set of photos and did my grafting. Most of the grafts are taking nicely now - here's a shot I took two days ago of one of the grafts:

Loquat grafting isn't hard. Knowing it has allowed me to save the genetics of a tree that would have otherwise been lost to my yard.

I was worried that the time of year was completely wrong for grafting fruit trees. At least in the case of loquats, I have happily proven my worries unfounded.

Now grow, loquats, and bring me fruit!

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At January 10, 2015 at 3:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cool, I'm going to try it for making a frankenloquat. I've been told to graft loquats and evergreens in general, when the host is pushing or growing. With apples, I've found that I can graft almost any time here with a reasonable chance of success.

At January 10, 2015 at 5:15 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

I was told by Oliver, the man (a loquat collector) that taught me grafting, that loquats are a super-easy grafter... basically, he says, you can be a complete novice and whittle the scions poorly and they'll still likely take.


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