Success on Apple Budding
Late last July, Johnson’s Nursery put on a seminar on chip budding. I happened to be working that Saturday morning, so I attended the afternoon session. Michael Yanny, our propagator, taught the class.
I had previously done a small amount of t-budding and lots of bark grafting of upright junipers, but never any chip budding. I was a bit apprehensive as Mr. Yanny made it look so easy, but he is an excellent teacher.
I recall a friend of mine who learned the art of whip and tongue grafting apple trees from Mike. Mike had told him that “even a monkey can learn to graft”. With that thought in mind, I was apprehensive about my success rate. What if none of my buds turned out? Hopefully I could do a better job than a monkey. I tried my luck by chip budding 5 trees (4 apple and 1 ginkgo). Last fall, I wrote that I would keep you posted on my success or failure.
Budding is done in late July or early August when the bark is slipping from the cambium. At this time, either chip or t-budding can be done to asexually propagate many different plants (magnolia, ginkgo, apple, crabapple, plum, etc.). Either method involves taking an auxiliary bud from the plant you wish to reproduce and inserting it onto a rootstock. This is one way of reproducing a plant selection that is seedless (male clones of ginkgo for example) or does not produce seedlings that are genetically identical to itself (apple for example).
Once budded, the area around the bud is bound up with budding tape to prevent it from drying out as callus tissue forms around the wound. After about 8 weeks the tape can be removed.
This spring I checked almost daily on my little buds. When they began to swell, I cut the top of the rootstock off above the bud. Since I had budded 4 different apple varieties, each one swelled at a different time. How did I do? Did I beat the monkey? I am proud to announce that all 4 of my apple buds were successful. My seedless ginkgo was a failure. I am extremely happy on this success rate since it was my first attempt at chip budding.
I look forward to planting my new apple trees in my orchard when they are big enough and must give credit to Michael Yanny on being such a great teacher.
Paul Schwabe is a salesman in our Contractor Sales division. He holds a degree in horticulture and will be writing about some of his favorite and underused plants.