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Old February 13, 2018   #1
b54red
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Default 2018 Grafing

I have already started grafting for this season. I grafted about two dozen plants yesterday to the RST-04-106-T root stock. I will be grafting pretty often for the next few months hoping for high success rates but I will be happy with anything over 50% with each batch I do. I forgot to order some more root stock varieties but will try to do that this week to use later in the season. I have had generally great results the last couple of years using mostly the RST-04-106-T root stock with its triple fusarium resistance along with nematode and Bacterial wilt resistance. Not all varieties perform great when grafted to this root stock but most do very well and it is a real benefit not having to worry with those stubborn soil born issues so prevalent here in lower Alabama. I just wish there was a way to beat the air born and insect born problems. I will know in about two weeks how many of my grafts were successful and will post the results.

Bill
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Old February 13, 2018   #2
rhines81
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How old are the plants you are grafting?
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Old February 13, 2018   #3
Father'sDaughter
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Thanks for kicking off this year's grafting thread! I've inventoried my supplies and I think I'm ready to start next month.

This year I'll be starting my rootstock seeds 1-2 weeks before my scion seeds. Last year I started them within a few days of each other and the rootstock grew so slowly that I had to graft down low on the stems, then had a tough time keeping the graft point above the soil when I planted out.
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Old February 13, 2018   #4
b54red
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How old are the plants you are grafting?
The seedlings are around five inches but starting to grow fast now.

Bill
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Old February 13, 2018   #5
Harry Cabluck
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Good luck with your grafting.
The 13 rootstock planted here on Jan. 20 seem varied. Supernatural is vigorous with true leaves. Estamino has only cotyledons. All in the garage above heating mat, below LED's.
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Old February 14, 2018   #6
Cole_Robbie
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Mine grafted plants did great....until I got to the part where you transition them out of the humid environment. I cracked the lid on the box, left it for the afternoon, and they were mostly dead when I came back. They had looked perfect up until then.
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Old February 14, 2018   #7
Harry Cabluck
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Slow transition is the answer, and you've already learned it. From the dark chamber to under the lights...about an hour in and hour out. That's a lot of careful movement to the tray. Same scenario when transitioning from the lights to outdoor shade and outdoor sun. Carefully handling the trays, it's tedious.
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Old February 14, 2018   #8
jtjmartin
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I'll start my first RST this weekend. Cannot wait for my second year of grafting.

Jeff
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Old February 15, 2018   #9
Father'sDaughter
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Mine grafted plants did great....until I got to the part where you transition them out of the humid environment. I cracked the lid on the box, left it for the afternoon, and they were mostly dead when I came back. They had looked perfect up until then.


Mine did not get to the point of death, but they drastically wilted when I cracked the lid for more than an hour at the start. If I recall, I think it set the entire process back by several days. It definitely needs to be a very gradual process. Need to keep that in mind for this year!
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Old February 19, 2018   #10
b54red
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It is a tricky thing deciding when and how much to open up the healing chambers. If the humidity is high and it is cool it can be done earlier without as much worry. I usually open my healing chamber for a minute after 48 hours to let in some fresh air and mist the lid and put it back on. I will repeat that the next morning and by the end of the fifth day I will leave the lid cracked. If no bad wilting occurs I will gradually open the lid more and by the 7th or 8th day will usually have the lid totally open. I try to give them a drink on the 7th day with very dilute fertilizer. I never put my plants in total darkness but just place a towel over the top and keep the healing container in a shady cool place for the first two or three days before allowing more light in.

My first batch done 7 days ago is now sitting outside on this cloudy overcast morning but I will move them into a more shady location as the sun gets brighter and hotter. In another few days depending upon how hot and sunny it is they will be moved outside permanently. That first batch has a few grafts that don't look great and I will know in another week how many survive but right now it looks like most of them will.

My second batch which was done 5 days ago has the lid off and I am checking it every thirty minutes for any signs of wilting and at the first sign of it I will mist the lid and cover them for a while before cracking the lid.

My third batch was done yesterday and I won't even look at them until tomorrow.

As it gets hotter I will have to be much more cautious about opening the healing chambers and try to keep them in a cool place as much as possible the first week. The exception to all that care about opening the healing chambers is when it is cloudy, cool and raining. When that is going on I just open them up and keep them on the porch until the rain stops. Depending on how long the weather is damp will determine whether I completely close the healing chamber or whether I crack the lid quite a bit. One time I was able to do two batches of grafts and right after I finished it started raining and it lasted for a whole week with no sunshine and the plants all healed without ever being closed up in the healing chamber. It doesn't get any better than that when grafting.

Bill
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Old February 22, 2018   #11
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The first two batches of approximately 24 grafts each have been totally uncovered for 4 or 5 days and outside in full sun for the past day and a half. It looks like I have 100% success with them. This evening or tomorrow I will move them from the high sided healing chambers and into more shallow trays so they will be getting the full force of the high winds this time of the year. Some may separate but the sooner they are exposed to the wind the stronger the stems will become.

I have had the lid cracked on the third batch since last night and it looks like all but a couple are doing fine. Just waiting on some new root stock seedlings to get large enough to graft some more.

Bill
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Old February 26, 2018   #12
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Can someone please advice me on seed starting? I need to start my root stock first and then my scions, is that correct? How many days apart should I start them?

I hope no one minds. This is my first year trying grafting and I'm probably going to have a lot of questions. I have my DM to start my root stock in too. Thanks!
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Old February 26, 2018   #13
b54red
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Can someone please advice me on seed starting? I need to start my root stock first and then my scions, is that correct? How many days apart should I start them?

I hope no one minds. This is my first year trying grafting and I'm probably going to have a lot of questions. I have my DM to start my root stock in too. Thanks!
I like to start my scions before I start my root stock. Generally about 4 to 7 days between. The reason for this is that it is much easier to use a too large scion than a too large root stock. It is always best if they are nearly the same size but if the scion is too tall I just go up it to make the cut where it matches the diameter of the root stock. If the root stock it too tall or too large in diameter it is very hard to use it without grafting so far up the plant that it is difficult to place it in a good healing chamber.

I have so far this season grafted three batches totalling around 70 plants. They have all been through the healing process with no fatalities which is very unusual. I just transplanted the healing plants from the large or medium DE that I use when putting them in the healing chamber into cups with potting soil. I will reuse the DE. I use small grain DE for starting all my tomato and pepper seed and use the medium DE (Optisorb) when potting the grafted plants to go into the healing chamber. I go through all this to save myself the heavy loses from damping off type diseases that are so common down here. I am listing the steps I take in grafting below for you if you want to try them. I think they will help you have better success.

I pull the root stock seedling out of the small grain DE in which it has been growing and pull off most of the roots. I then cut off a scion and lay it on top of the root stock on a cutting board making sure to line up the two stems so I can see where they are the nearest to each other in shape and thickness. I then make a diagonal cut through them both where they match the best. Make sure there are no leaf junctures that will interfere with joining the tow together before making the cut. Then I join them together with a silicon clip and hold it up to a strong light and make sure they fit well together and that the clip is the right size so it isn't too loose.

I put some Optisorb in a Styrofoam coffee cup that has holes in it so it will drain well making sure to label the graft variety. I then pour some dilute fertilizer like Miracle Grow over the DE until it is draining out the bottom and allow it to drain well. Then I take my finger and make a hole and set the graft in it and push the moist DE around it and firm it up. I then check it again against a strong light and make sure I haven't disturbed the union of the root stock and scion. Then I take some clean dry Optisorb and pour it from my hand around the base of the grafted plant to help support it and also to keep the surface drier.

I then place the completed graft in a healing chamber which is nothing but a plastic clear tote with a flat bottom that can be closed tightly with a clear lid. I keep the lid lightly sitting on top and only lift it to put in the next graft and I also mist the lid to keep it moist and keep the humidity level up. Once I have all the grafts done which can take a while I will mist the lid and seal it shut for two days in dark shade. I sometimes place a towel over the healing chamber if it is not in enough shade.

During the two days of darkness I will take off the lid a couple of times preferably in the early morning or evening for a few minutes to allow in some fresh air. If the lid isn't moist then I will mist it again. The third day I just place the lid on the chamber without clamping it shut and usually by the end of the third day or the fourth day I will crack the lid so some ventilation takes place and gradually open it more each day unless I see some wilting. If I see wilting then I will mist the lid and close it up for a few hours and try opening it up again. If the weather is humid and cool then this process can be shortened and if it is very hot it may take longer and failure will usually increase.

By the sixth or seventh day I generally have the plants outside or at least on the porch in good light with the lids completely off. At this time a few may wither or wilt and die but that is just part of the process. Grafts don't always take no matter how careful you are. I also try to give the plants a good little drink of fertilized water when the lids come off for good. When the plants start showing some decent growth I will then gently take them out of the DE and pour the DE into a container for use again later. I then pot them into the same cups with regular potting soil and place a skewer or two to keep them upright then give them a good drink of fertilized water. If you are using the silicon clips with the loops in them they are great for threading the skewer through and supporting the plants. I then harden them off and when they are ready I plant them. I usually leave the clips and skewers on them when setting them out in very windy conditions unless the plants have hardened off so long the clips start popping off on their own.

If you have any more questions you can PM me. I hope this helps you. Once you get the hang of it and figure out some of the little missteps it isn't as difficult as it first appears.

Bill
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Old February 27, 2018   #14
Father'sDaughter
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I followed Bill's advice last year and had a very high success rate. However, in my environment (cooler), the rootstock grew much, much slower than the scions. I had stocky, thick stemmed scions while the rootstock was so tiny and spindly that I had to graft practically at the soil line.

This year I'm starting rootstock at least week ahead of the scions, but otherwise staying with Bills technique.
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Old February 27, 2018   #15
b54red
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I followed Bill's advice last year and had a very high success rate. However, in my environment (cooler), the rootstock grew much, much slower than the scions. I had stocky, thick stemmed scions while the rootstock was so tiny and spindly that I had to graft practically at the soil line.

This year I'm starting rootstock at least week ahead of the scions, but otherwise staying with Bills technique.

When I first started grafting I did the same thing several times before I realized I could just wait to start grafting. The thing to do when that happens is to just wait til the root stock is larger and then just use a section of the scion from near the top. If I can get my arthritis to ease up a bit I will be grafting again today. Most of the scions I will be using are now from 7 inches to a foot tall now but I will take just the very top and graft to the section of the root stock that is the same size. I used all my root stock with those last three batches and planted new seed for this go around. I have some of the tips of the root stock that were rooted that are now large enough to use and will be using them also.

My success rate should drop some because I will be using so many different aged plants. I find that the highest success rate is with the very young scion and root stock and as everything gets older and bigger the success rate drops. From my experience the younger the two plants the better they take to grafting. Even with a lower success rate using the rooted root stock from the past grafting sessions it is well worth it. Rooting the tips from the root stock that are large enough to root gives you a second seedling from the one seed and sometimes a third or forth. These rooted seedlings also give you thicker stems on short plants that will match up with the larger scions better. As the scions get older the growth tips will frequently tend to get fatter and sometimes shaped different making grafting with them more difficult. I also have some new scions coming on that will be ready to use in a day or two and will be using them with most of the new root stock seedlings.

Bill
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