Grafting techniques are very commonly used in all types of fruit trees to save time and improve the properties and capabilities of a given species. Orange trees are no exception, and it is that grafting citrus fruits is especially convenient because of how compatible they are with each other. In this way, we can graft orange trees on rootstocks that are more resistant to certain climates or diseases, or even graft a different variety of orange on another to have two types of fruits on a single tree.
If you want to learn how to graft citrus, especially how to graft an orange tree and at what time , join us in this article.
When to graft orange trees
When performing a graft, choosing the right time is a vital point to maximize the chances of success. The best time to graft orange trees is when the tree is very active, in the middle of the growing season. At this time will be when it is more likely that the sap circulates correctly between graft and rootstock and that it comes out well.
This usually occurs in spring , between April and the end of July, although in some climates we can extend the grafting season until September. If you are not sure if your climate coincides with the indicated months, keep in mind that the orange tree will be in a suitable growth phase with a temperature between 20ºC and 29ºC once the cold months have passed.
How to graft an orange tree step by step
There are a large number of grafting techniques that can be used with citrus fruits, such as inlay graft, spike graft, wedge graft, crown graft, inverted-ele graft, or escutcheon graft.
All of them have their pros and cons, but this time we are going to focus on the gusset graft . Its main points in favor are its ease of implementation, which makes it more suitable for non-experts in the field, and that the inverted T-shaped cut has the advantage of facilitating the non-accumulation of water in the graft, in case of rain. or it will get wet when watering. Let’s see how to make an orange tree graft step by step :
- Disinfect your grafting tools. It is vital that you sterilize them with alcohol or a specific product, since we are going to make open wounds to the plants and we must minimize the chances of infection.
- Clean the rootstock or rootstock of leaves, branches or thorns if it has them. It is desirable that the stem is as clean as possible.
- Make an inverted T-shaped cut on the rootstock. As we have mentioned before, cutting with this shape prevents water from possible rainfall or irrigation from accumulating in the wound, something that would not be appropriate and could cause the appearance of fungi or diseases. The ideal is to make the graft at an approximate height of about 20 or 25 cm from the base. Why so low? The lower the graft, the more difficult it is for other branches or shoots to steal sap and nutrients from the cutting, which especially at the beginning, is what we are most interested in.
- Cut the bud from the graft, keeping about a centimeter of stem above and below the bud. Nothing happens if the cut has some wood on the inside, in fact it is common. Do not withdraw it. At this point, it is highly recommended to avoid touching the yolk with your hands, as we could get it dirty or infected. Grab it by the petiole or, if it has detached, use your tools.
- Insert the graft into the cut of the pattern, ensuring that it is well supported and fitted, with all the possible contact surface between both. Cut off what is sticking out of the graft, and wrap it with graft tape or other inert material.
- Cut the rootstock above the graft. Leave the tree in a semi-shady location for the first few weeks while you check to see if the graft is starting to grow and has been successful. In these early days, water often. After about six weeks, you can remove the graft wrap.
If we are interested in how to graft an old orange tree, it will be better to do the grafting following the reed technique and do it in mid-winter.
How to graft an orange tree onto a lemon tree
Lemon trees, as citrus fruits that they are, are good rootstocks for the orange tree, in addition to resisting better some colder climates. For this reason, and because of the practicality of having lemons and oranges on the same tree, grafting an orange tree onto a lemon tree is a very good option.
We can continue using the previously described gusset method, although if we want the tree to grow vertically from the graft, we can perform a cleft graft .
- Cut the main stem of the pattern to the desired height, making a longitudinal cut of about 5 cm long.
- Prepare the stake or prong that will act as a graft, giving it a wedge shape that adapts to the cut made in the pattern.
- After introducing it, wrap the graft with rope or tape and cut the end of the stake to create more lateral shoots.