Throughout January and February our Orchard Manager, Neil, gathers graftwood cuttings from our mother orchards.
Neil has many years of experience gathering graftwood and budwood and looking after our stock trees on the nursery. These graft cuttings are then combined with rootstocks either indoors (known as bench grafting) or in the field (directly onto planted out rootstocks) to propagate new trees.
Using a clean, sharp pair of secateurs, graftwood shoots are cut at an angle from one year old wood. Three or four buds are always left on the tree to encourage new growth the following year. Each shoot cut is about 18 inches long and from this the grafting team aim to get three good grafts, each graft using a six inch length of wood with at least three good buds.
The graftwood shoots are tied into bundles and labelled, each bundle contains enough wood for about 100 grafts.
Neil prefers to only gather graftwood if the temperature outside is above 1 °C as freezing can cause cell damage. When gathering wood from stoned fruit trees it is better if it is a dry day to reduce any risk of infection on the mother tree.
The bundles of graftwood are covered in hessian cloth whilst they are gathered to help prevent them from drying out in wind or sunshine. They are then transferred to our coldstores which are kept at 4 °C with high humidity until they are needed.
On a good day Neil can gather enough wood for up to 10,000 grafts!