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Grafting
Nature Bulletin No. 750-A   April 5, 1980
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
George W. Dunne, President
Roland F. Eisenbeis, Supt. of Conservation

GRAFTING
Late winter -- and even now, if they are still dormant -- has always been the time for grafting apple trees grown on farms and in commercial orchards or nurseries. Apparently that has been going on for thousands of years because, more than 150 years before the birth of Christ, Cato the Elder had written a treatise on grafting. When the Romans invaded Britain, in AD 43, they had over 20 varieties of apples obtained by their skills in one of the oldest arts of husbandry -- Graftage.

Graftage comprises two basic processes: Grafting -- also called cion grafting -- and Budding -- also called bud grafting. They are operations by which a part of one plant is inserted into another plant or some part of it, in such a manner that the former, nourished by the latter, shall grow and produce its own kind.

Briefly, they are simple but wonderful processes by which a twig or a bud from a chosen variety of tree is inserted into and -- if properly done -- made to grow from the stem, trunk, a branch, or the root of a member of the same tribe -- perhaps a wild one. Budding, however, is ordinarily done in late summer or autumn.

Apples are usually propagated by cion grafting although it may be and sometimes is done by budding. Pears are propagated by either process. Most "stone" fruits -- peaches, cherries, plums, prunes and apricots -- are habitually "budded, " as are lemons and oranges and other citrus fruits, although nurseries sometimes resort to cion grafting .

The terms grafting is customarily restricted to propagation by means of short twigs or cions. Budding is used to designate the insertion of single buds that are severed from the branch on which they grew. Stock is the plant or part on which the grafting or budding is done. Cion (or scion) is the part inserted into the stock, but the term is usually used only for cuttings of twigs. Grafting is performed for one or more of several reasons:

(1) -- To perpetuate a variety. Many fruit plants do not reproduce true to their variety from seeds. For example, the seedling may bear fruit similar to that of a wild ancestor.... (2) -- A variety may be made more productive, hardier, more resistant to disease and insect damage, or better adapted to poor soil conditions .... (3) -- It may be quicker and cheaper to obtain a large number of individuals of a desired variety by grafting or budding than by any other means.... (4) -- If a variety becomes undesirable or unpopular -- as the Duchess apple did in Michigan -- it may be changed to new and better varieties. Also, if desired, several varieties or species may be grown on a single stock. However, a peach will not grow on apple stock and vice versa.... (5) -- Repairing of injuries -- as when the trunk is girdled by mice or rabbits or vandals -- may be accomplished by cion grafting.

The cardinal principle, a "must, " of any and all types of graftage is to place the cambium of the cion or the bud in close contact with the cambium of the stock. They must be kept there (by a binding) until firmly united and growing. The cambium is a very thin but potent layer of microscopic cells between the inner bark and the sapwood. Illustrated are three common types of cion grafting.

Tongue Graftin.

Bark Graftin.

Cleft Grafting


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