A question about apple grafting

Asked April 19, 2013, 1:23 PM EDT


I have a bit of an odd question, and was hoping you might be able to help me.

A relative of mine has an apple tree in his yard – a chance seedling with really good fruit – that recently blew over (and was then girdled by rabbits). I have a few apple rootstocks (EMLA111), and have offered to graft a new tree for him from the old one.

So far, so good, but, as I’m sure you know, last year was a horrible year for apples, and the most growth I can find from last year is only about 1/4” long (and in most cases, consists only of a terminal bud).

So. My question is this: will a graft will take if I use only two-year-old growth (much of the two-year old growth has buds)? Or will a graft only take with last year’s growth? Would it be better to graft the two-year-old wood with the small piece of last year’s growth? I’ve never tried anything other than grafting with the previous year’s growth, so any guidance would be greatly appreciated.


John Morelli,
Allendale, MI

Ottawa County Michigan

1 Response

Hi John,
It is always best to use only one year old wood (last year's growth) for grafting. It can be done with older wood, but usually with less success. I'm surprised that you did not get more growth than normal in 2012 with no apples to compete with the vegetative growth. For the commercial apple industry I work with in West Michigan, too much vegetative growth is our concern from 2012 coming into 2013. You might want to take a tissue sample this year in August to find out if you are missing something nutritionally.