Grafting Cherry Trees

Asked November 8, 2015, 9:15 PM EST


I have two cherry trees, a Bing and a Rainier, both under two years old. On both trees, all of the branches are on basically one side of the tree. Is it possible to graft scions into the trunks on the opposite sides to even the trees out? All of the literature I have read speaks only of grafting scions to branches, not trunks.


Lloyd Johnson

Walla Walla County Washington

2 Responses

Hi Lloyd,
Yes you can graft in small branches.
You want to use some of the new (one year-old) shoot wood from the other branches. You would use a techniques called bark grafting. It is similar to cleft grafting except instead of grafting to the stump of a branch you cut off you will want to make your incision into the side of the tree. Search the internet for 'bark grafting and you will see a lot of posts and a few videos on the technique. You will want to collect your budwood early next year before growth begins. Don't store it in a refrigerator with ripe fruit as the ethylene gas given off by the fruit will kill the buds. These branches will be weak for several years so you will want to support them.
You might also try forcing buds to grow on the unbranched side of the tree. Examine the trunk closly to determine where the buds which were rubbed of were. Cut deeply into the bark all the way down to the wood the cut the link to higher in the tree. There should be latent buds at those nodes and you may fool them into thinking that the top of the tree was cut of and they will begin to grow. I would make as many cuts on the side of the tree to stimulate as many buds as possible and then see what you get.
Another option is to prune the trees very heavily to force new growth from as many places as possible. For this to work you need to cut off almost all the new wood and remove most of the older branches leaving only a few buds on each.
Sweet cherry trees can be reluctant to branch and I usually tell people if they are not satisfied with the branch structure at planting to remove all the branches and force the tree to grow new ones. If you leave any that is where the growth will occur leaving a lopsided tree.
I hope this helps.

Thanks for the help, Mark. I really appreciate it.