Central Coast Chapter CRFG

Grafting

Panorama of the orchard
Bananas, strawberry guavas, a chayote, lemon, pear, avocado, and orange grafted to a fig tree? You're right: impossible!

What is Grafting?

Dave Christie finishes grafting a scion to rootstock.
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.

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

Video photo collection of the grafting day at Midland School in 2016, created by Alisha Taff. Joe Sabol is on the left.

I've Grafted My Tree: What's Next?

Apple Grafting Notes (pdf)

Want to learn more about fruit trees?
The State CRFG's website includes fruit facts and a fruit list.

 

2016 Grafters

March 1: Santa Maria High School

Group photo of Santa Maria High School grafters class 1
Group photo of Santa Maria High School grafters class 2

March 10: SLO Master Gardeners

Group photo of San Luis Obispo Master Gardeners grafters

March 11: San Luis Obispo High School

Group photo of San Luis Obispo High School grafters

March 14: Grizzly Academy Gals

Group photo of Grizzly Academy Women grafters

March 14: Grizzly Academy Guys

Group photo of Grizzly Academy Men grafters

March 4: San Gabriel 6th Grade

Group photo of San Gabriel 6th Grade grafters