What is Grafting?
Dave Christie finishes grafting a scion to rootstock.
Grafting is the process of adding a piece of one tree (a twig called a "scion;" or a bud) to a compatible tree, or to rootstock.
The two grow together. The fruit from the scion branch is exactly the same as that of the tree from which it was taken.
There are several grafting methods, including the cleft graft, whip graft, bark graft, and bud graft.
Rootstock is a small trunk with roots on one end, and usually under 2 feet tall. It may have properties such as the ability to dwarf (keep small in height and width) the tree that will result from the scion(s) grafted to it. It may also have properties such as drought resistance, disease and pest tolerance, or soil tolerance.
The reasons for grafting are numerous. You can:
- have multiple varieties of fruit on one tree- perfect for small yards or for cross-pollination
- test multiple varieties on one tree to see if you like the fruit enough to dedicate room for a full tree of that fruit
- have fruit ripen at different times on one tree, if the varieties you graft to it bear at different times of the year
- ensure that the fruit you are grafting will be exactly the same as the fruit of the tree from which you took the grafting twig. (If you plant a seed, you may be sure of the genetics of the mother plant, but not necessarily of the plant that has pollinated that seed.)
Learn to Graft
Want to learn how to graft? The Central Coast Chapter of CRFG offers grafting tutorials on the 3rd Saturday in February.
These tutorials are open to the public, and are part of our Annual Scion Exchange.
Four different styles of grafting technique were highlighted at our March 2019 meeting. To learn more about the cleft, whip 'n tongue, and chip bud grafts, and using the Omega grafting tool, see the grafting demonstrations in our March 2019 newsletter.
High School Apple Grafting Project
The Central Coast Chapter educates hundreds of students annually about the grafting process. We visit schools, primarily high schools, in several counties and teach the students how to graft an apple tree and to stimulate their interest in growing fruit trees.
Joe Sabol of our Central Coast CRFG chapter and Cal Poly started the high school grafting project in 1998, and it has turned into an annual event. The Central Coast chapter buys apple rootstocks in large quantities so it can pass on the discount price to the high schools. Then CRFG members, along with Cal Poly Ag Ambassadors, take the rootstocks to high schools and show the students how to graft. It has proven to be a win-win-win venture. Students win with their enthusiasm at the prospect of being able to "build" their own tree. CRFG members win with the satisfaction of seeing the quality of the grafts made by the students. Ag Ambassadors win by staying in touch with local high school students. And high school agriculture teachers win with the low-cost/high-interest activity in their classrooms.
Grafting Day at Midland School
I've Grafted My Tree: What's Next?
Apple Grafting Notes (pdf)
2018 Grafting Season
- February 20: Arroyo Grande High School
- February 21: Nipomo High School
- February 27: Santa Maria High School
- March 1: SLO Master Gardners
- March 6: SLO High School
- March 7: Cuesta College North campus
- March 13: Santa Ynez High School
- March 15: 26 hour Program at Cal Poly
- March 16: Paulding Middle School, Arroyo Grande
- March 17: Midland School, near Los Olivos
Arroyo Grande High School
Nipomo High School
Santa Maria High School
San Luis Obispo High School
Cuesta College North Campus
Santa Ynez High School
Paulding Middle School
26 hour Program at Cal Poly
Our Apple Grafting Team also went to Cal Poly for a very special grafting with students from about 15 high schools from all over California. It is a special "recruitment effort" by the College of Agriculture... getting under-represented high school students to come and spend a full day at Cal Poly. There were OVER 100 students who came... and grafted their own apple tree... and took it home the next day!! Big effort by the CRFG apple grafting team and by the Cal Poly Fruit Science students who helped us...!! Thanks Dr. Garner and Dr. Robert Flores.
March 1: Santa Maria High School
March 10: SLO Master Gardeners
March 11: San Luis Obispo High School
March 14: Grizzly Academy Gals
March 14: Grizzly Academy Guys