Hi friends,

With this article I want to talk about grape vine grafting.  This is quite a common question among new grape growers.  The reason I think why so many people want to know how to do grafting, is because they planted the wrong variety when they started out.

Deciding on the right grape variety to grow in your area, is probably the most important decision you as a grape grower will take.  I will stick my head out and say, that your grape growing success depends on this decision.  Choosing the wrong variety for example in cold climates, can result in loosing the grape vine through frost – yes, some varieties are more cold hardy than others.  Disease susceptibility from variety to variety also differ, if you live in a climate with lots of rain during the growing season, it would be inadvisable to choose a variety that is more susceptible to downy mildew or powdery mildew.

Luckily, if you have chosen the wrong variety, there are a few tricks up the sleeve to “change” the grape vine into the variety you prefer/want – it’s called “grape vine grafting”.

Grape vine grafting is where you take some tissue (called a scion), whether it is a cutting or just a bud, from the desired variety and unite it with your existing variety.

There are quite a few methods grafting, like bench grafting, field grafting, green-to-green grafting, chip budding and so on, but the most effective and probably the easiest of them all, is T-budding or also called shield budding.

For T-budding to be successful, you need well developed DORMANT canes from a disease free grape vine.  The canes are normally pruned in winter, after enough cold, so the canes will be in full rest and then stored in a plastic bag in a refrigerator (not a freezer).  Ensure you choose healthy canes, that from the exterior of the grape vine – not those that didn’t get enough sunlight during the growing season.  The thickness of the cane should be more or less the diameter of a pencil – don’t use slender cuttings and canes with closely spaced, small buds.

At the beginning of spring, as soon as sap flow within the vine starts, it is time to graft the the new scions on the the old grape vine - we call this time of the year ”slip barking” – this means that the cambium is actively growing, and the bark can be peeled easily with little damage.

The nice thing about T-budding, is that you can start a new grape vine on a 5 to 10 year old vine.  I wouldn’t recommend grafting on a 10 year and older vine.

With a sharp (and I do mean very sharp) grafting knife, cut a scion from the dormant cane (see the video below how it’s done – let me warn you, it takes some practice).

A vertical cut is then made on the stem of the old grape vine and should be deep enough to insure that the bark will separate at the cambium (this is where the term “slip barking” comes from).  A horizontal cut is then made at the upper end of the vertical cut to finish the “T”

The bark is carefully slipped from the stem by spreading the flaps alongside the vertical cut – this will expose the cambium.  The scion is then placed in the “T” and taped with a rubber band or grafting tape.  Care should be taken not to tear the flaps of bark in the process of spreading them and ensure you tightly wind up the grafting tape.

If the bark does not slip easily, this indicates that the stock is not in active growth and the process should be conducted later when active growth has resumed.

Take a look at the following two videos how it is done.

Good luck and happy grape growing.

 

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