Grafting Citrus Trees - Knowledgebase Question

Osteen, FL
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Question by FLOMEX
March 7, 1998
Do you have instructions for grafting citrus trees?

Answer from NGA
March 7, 1998
Graftage refers to any process of inserting a part of one plant into or onto another plant in such a way that they will unite and grow as a single unit.

The SCION is the part of the new combination which is inserted into the other plant and which thereby produces the top of the plant, including branches, leaves and ultimately fruit. The STOCK or ROOTSTOCK is the plant onto which the scion is inserted and it produces the root system and lower trunk. The rootstock may be grown from seed, rooted cuttings or layers.

GRAFTING involves the use of a scion having 2 or more buds. There are numerous types of grafts including whip, cleft, bridge, inarch, stump, inlay bark, side approach and others. Grafting is most commonly used to repair existingtrees, to top-work existing trees, to change the variety and to produce new plants. Grafting is not commonly practiced with Florida as it is a more difficult means of propagation, as compared to budding.

BUDDING involves the use of a scion with only a single bud attached to a piece of bark. It may or may not include a sliver of wood under the bark. Budding is the most commonly used technique for propagating new plants, but it is also used to top work existing trees to a new variety. It is simple and easy to do, so anyone can be successful after a little practice.

There are several different methods of budding, including T, inverted T, chip (hanging), patch and others. Those most commonly used in citrus propagation are the inverted T bud and the chip bud (hanging bud). The inverted T bud is used when the bark is slipping (easily separated from the wood), whereas the chip (hanging) bud is used at other times.

Buds should be collected from a tree or trees of the desired variety.Budsticks are commonly selected from the next to last growth flush (the wood behind the current flush) and from the current growth flush after it has matured and hardened. Older growth flushes can be used if the bark is still green.

Round twigs about the size of a pencil are preferred. The buds located in the axils of the leaves (where the leaf is attached to the wood) should be well-developed but still dormant.

After the budwood is cut from the tree, the undesirable wood and/or growthflush should be removed and the remaining budwood should be trimmed to length of 8-10 inches. The leaves should be cut off leaving a stub of the petiole 1/8 inch long to protect the buds. Trimmed budsticks should be labeled and used immediately or placed in a plastic bag in a cool place. Include a moist paper towel to maintain turgidity and freshness.

Budding can be done anytime there is a suitable stock on which the bark is slipping and when suitable budwood is available. Give a slight twist to open the bark at the T. The point of the knife can be used to lift the bark along the vertical cut, if necessary.

Cut a bud from the budstick while holding the apical end of the budstick away from you.

Insert the bud shield under the bark flaps of the stock so that the cut surface is flat against the wood. The bud shield should be completely enclosed in the T. Wrapping should be firm without being excessively tight.

The wrapping should be removed after 2-3 weeks, as union with the stock should have occured by that time. The bud is then forced into growth by lopping and tied at regular intervals to prevent breakage. Remove all other buds and suckers from the rootstock as they appear.

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