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Fruitwise apple tree grafting, the saddle graft

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Uploaded on Mar 31, 2008

Demonstration of one of the simplest and most useful techniques for grafting fruit trees. A 'pencil' of the scion wood, variety Queen Cox in this case, is used from storage, these need to be cut while the wood is winter-dormant e.g. February to early March, and stored cool and not too dry. I usually put them in a plastic bag in the fridge. LABEL carefully. The right time to graft is bud burst to early green leaf, roughly April. This was done on the last day of a warm southern English March.

Any very sharp knife with a thin blade will do, my favourite is the Opinel 'inoxidable'(stainless) number 6 (number refers to size, Opinel make a range of knives.) My one has a walnut handle and I bought it in Bayeux, which is completely irrelevant! it must feel comfortable in your hand. The knife must be sharp enough to cut you badly or it is not sharp enough for purpose, so be careful. Note the trick of locking thumbs together and levering the knife through the wood, it reduces the risk of slipping and cutting yourself. Practice with waste wood (e.g. prunings) to get the fit right. This technique really works well, the follow up video proves it!

NB the rootstocks here are MM106, and are growing in a row where I cut down some unwanted and over-large rootstocks and allowed new growths to shoot up from the stump. I then earthed these up and selected the best growths to make my own vegetatively propagated rootstocks. This is a good way to produce new trees, but the saddle graft can be used equally well to top work over an established tree to a different variety. I will show other grafting techniques in a forthcoming video.

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