2018 – Year in Review


The weather during 2018 varied quite a lot from the previous few years. It was quite cold early in the year during the Winter and then the late Spring only lasted for about two weeks. The rainfall was spotty and below normal for the year on my place, but, other areas of the county received more rainfall.

The ten or so potted trees that were sprouted from seed in May, 2017, did not survive the Winter – although the pots were placed into a straw bale fort for protection over the Winter, apparently they all froze.

In previous years it was common to lose a few trees after planting but only during the first two years. This past year a number of three and four year old grafted trees did not survive the Winter – mainly the grafts died but a couple of root stocks also died. The grafted Lakota were hit the hardest – they were planted in a low place where the cold air accumulates. Maybe the Lakota would do better if planted on a slope where there would be more air flow.

Besides the regular maintenance of the field trees and mowing weeds I continued grafting field trees during the Spring and planting new trees in the Fall.

My grafting success this year was abominable with only 9 out of 40 making it. Out of the first 20 grafts, 9 survived. But, out of the last 20 none survived. Looking back for excuses I can see that the temperature during the last 20 attempts was probably 85 degrees or above and just too warm for grafting.

During October and November I planted 44 trees and bushes into the fields as follows:

7 black walnut trees
8 Chinese chestnut trees
17 pecan trees(15 grafted)
10 Saskatoon service berry bushes
2 chokecherry bushes

Experimenting with cover crops continued. During June I broadcast an 11 way mix and used the roto-tiller to scratch the dirt over the seeds. It was very dry and the rains did not come until the end of July. The sorghum/sudan and the millet slowly sprouted and grew somewhat before the rains. Most of the legume seeds did not sprout at all, but, some of the other seeds did sprout and grow after the rains came. The sunflowers in the mix did not grow tall and produce very many beautiful heads as was the case in the previous year.

The deer and other wildlife continue to exert their rule over the place – at least they leave behind some fertilizer.

After attending workshops on soil health I realized that I need to introduce some cows and maybe some goats to improve the soil. The cows could mow the grasses and the goats could eat the poison ivy, small bushes, and serecia lespedeza. That would necessitate putting up some fencing along the road and designing a system for watering. But, the grass fed beef should taste good.

Update On Last Years Graft

 

In February this year when I checked the grafts made in May, 2016, I came across the graft shown in the following picture:

The scion had only produced a couple of leaves during last Summer and it was less than two inches long  –   the prognosis did not appear to be good. Although in the picture above it appears that the scion wood had actually died, using a pruner to snip off the end of the scion revealed green cambium. So, instead of giving up on the graft, I decided to wait and see what would happen this Spring.

The following picture was taken in late July of this year and shows how the short piece of scion wood has expanded in girth and popped a bud with a strong limb. Note that the bark has still not grown over the staples. But, this years growth is impressive.

 

And, here is a picture showing the top of the tree which has added about three feet of new growth this year.

 

 

It is interesting to note that the variety of scion wood in this graft is Kanza.  In my experience trees of the Kanza pecan variety seem to have a will to live that exceeds that of other pecan varieties.

Last Years Grafting Attempts

In May, 2016, I attempted to graft pecan scion wood onto pecan seedlings using various grafting methods. In the following picture the failed arrowhead graft is enclosed in green grafting tape – note that a limb on the left side of the stock below the graft has grown about five feet high since the graft attempt.

The following two pictures show the back with the staples and front of the failed graft after it was cut off. One flaw noted in the second picture is that the scion wood does not sit down snug to the stock.

The following picture show an arrowhead graft that started growing and then broke off.   Although it was tied up to a supporting stake, apparently a bird landed on the top and broke out the graft union.

The following three pictures show a successful arrowhead graft with the bamboo support pole beside it. Note that the wood has callused completely over the staples and is starting to cover the top of the cut off stock.

The following two pictures show a successful 3-flap graft. Note that the diameter at the graft union is larger than the stock.

The following two pictures show another successful 3-flap graft. The top of the scion wood was cut off to promote healing. Note how large that the graft union and the short piece of scion wood below the cut off have grown. You can see the new growth from the scion that starts on the right side of the scion. It grew about four feet high during last Summer.

The following picture shows a failed bark graft.

The following two pictures show a successful bark graft. Again, the callus growth covers the staples and is starting to cover the top of the stock.


In the following picture the bark graft has only started to callus over. There is green wood in the tiny piece of scion, but, the future does not look good.


After one of the bark grafts failed as shown in the following picture a limb grew out of the stock underneath the graft location. Note how it first grew down and then curved upwards. Although it grew about four feet high, I wonder what I should do with it.

Last Years Graft

After grafting one seedling pecan tree last May the buds on the scion were very slow to pop and then they only grew about two or three inches during the season.  Normally, the expected growth with this size seedling stock tree would be one to three feet.  When I took a closer look at the graft union this Spring, I could guess what happened.  The graft method was a three-flap – or banana graft – so named because after the seedling stock tree is cut off, three flaps of bark are pulled down about three inches and the inner core is cut out.  Then the scion is carved so that three faces of exposed inner wood slightly shorter than the three flaps of the stock are separated by narrow strips of bark.   This carved scion is inserted into the three flaps of the stock with the flaps completely covering the faces of the scion wood and the combined graft wrapped up tightly.

As you can see in the next three pictures below only one of the three flaps on the seedling stock tree mended together with the scion.  Despite the flubbed graft the scion did manage to survive.

Last_years_graft_B Last_years_graft_A

Last_years_graft_C

 

In May of this year I decided to cut off last years graft and graft the seedling tree again.  If my grafting skills have improved, maybe the tree will grow better this year – hopefully it will grow out one foot or more before Fall.

And, of course, there are more bloomin’ flowers to show.

Last_years_graft_D Last_years_graft_E

 

Last_years_graft_F