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Topworking plums - cleft grafting

creekweb
January 7, 2011

I have a dozen or so American plum trees growing in a grove that I would like to use as rootstock for grafting some Japanese plums, and I am considering what grafting options might work best. The trees are about 3-6 feet from one another and range in trunk diameter from 2 to 7 inches at chest height. There is very little branching coming off the main trunks at less than 6 feet, and nothing worth grafting onto. One plan I've considered is cutting the trees to about 3 feet tall, hope for new growth and then graft onto this the following year or bud later this summer.(I do have doubts about the American plums' ability to even survive this treatment.) The other consideration is cleft grafting the stumps. I've read various accounts about cleft grafting plums, some positive, some negative, but was wondering if anyone here has had any actual experience using cleft grafts in a similar situation with plums.

Comments (4)

  • Scott F Smith

    What bad have you read about cleft grafts? I have done cleft grafts on 1" to 5" plum stems and all have done well. Nowdays I prefer bark grafts on such wide stems since there is no need to crack the wood, but both have worked very reliably for me. I usually topwork at about 3' so it won't get shaded by the neighboring trees.

    Scott

  • Konrad___far_north

    I wouldn't cleft graft....as you mentioned, cut it down, perhaps only
    the major branches back withing 3 foot or so to the trunk, and let the
    tree give you new shoots [water sprouts], use these the following year
    to bark graft, after one or two season the grafts are nicely healed over and strong. Cleft graft can look ugly for many years and has a very weak area where it can break easy.
    It is important for plums to use the new figures branches for grafting.

    Konrad

    Here is a link that might be useful: Barkgrafting...

  • Scott F Smith

    Konrad, have you had a cleft graft break? I never have. I also don't understand how a watersprout would be much stronger than just doing a bark graft on the stump- they look very similar a year later. I have some older cleft and bark grafts and in 3-4 years they start to fade from notice and after 5-6 years you couldn't even tell where they were.

    Scott

  • Konrad___far_north

    >>Konrad, have you had a cleft graft break?I never done a cleft myself but I have seen it, also ugly graft's that I stayed away.

    I can't see a graft on a stump look the same after one year unless you
    have a finger size root stock.

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