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Cherry is a fruit tree that allows you to taste one of the most popular products in agriculture: cherry. Red, amaranth, sweet and juicy, this fruit has excellent organoleptic properties, obtained thanks to the cultivation methods to which the homonymous tree is subjected. In fact, the cherry tree needs to be grafted to produce the magnificent fruits that we all know. The grafts, or the crossing between the vegetative parts of two related species, allows to obtain a good quality of the fruits and to keep the cherry tree healthy for the whole course of its life, which lasts from twenty to more than 100 years.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the grafting of the cherry tree responds to two specific objectives: to improve the quality of the fruit and to keep the plant healthy and vigorous for the rest of its life. Without grafting, the cherry tree would not be able to propagate with a balanced vegetative rhythm and it would not even be able to produce fruit with high quality characteristics. Grafting, especially for cherry trees grown in the garden, allows plants and fruits to be obtained that can also exhibit an excellent aesthetic result, a factor that does not hurt, especially in green spaces dedicated to bringing out all the splendor of nature.
Types of grafts
The grafts made on the cherry tree can be split or bud. The split grafts allow to add, to the rootstock, branches with buds (the scions), while the bud grafts insert, in a specific portion of the bark of the rootstock, only the buds without branches. In our areas split grafts are frequently practiced, while overseas we see the use of bud grafts. From the experiences of growers, it seems that bud grafts have a better chance of taking root on some species of stone fruit, including the cherry tree.
Before grafting a cherry tree, it is necessary to have clear in mind the objectives to be achieved, the characteristics, the conditions of the plant and the properties of the soil. Indeed, it is the latter that will affect the type of rootstock to be used for grafting. The rootstock is the plant that will have to accommodate the buds or slips inside. In theory, there are many species of cherry trees to be used as rootstock, but some seem more suitable than others, especially if the soil in which they are grown has specific chemical and physical characteristics. The sweet cherry, for example, is grafted onto the wild cherry, the magaleppo and the sour cherry. The wild cherry is by far the rootstock used to graft any variety of cherry. It is suitable for fresh and silicon-rich soils, not too humid, but not too dry. Magaleppo is suitable for arid and calcareous soils, because it resists better any nutritional deficiencies determined by the chemical and physical composition of these soils. The sour cherry is suitable for moist, thick and heavy soils, but it must not be grafted with the sweet cherry, because due to the low affinity between the two species, no rooting would be obtained.
Grafting cherry: How to graft
In split grafting, two branches are taken, with two, three buds, from the graft (second tree to be grafted). On the rootstock (tree that will receive the scions) a horizontal portion of the trunk or stump is cut, making a T-shaped cut. The scions are inserted on the sides of the cut. To allow engraftment, the scions must be tied around the trunk. This type of grafting should be practiced in spring or autumn, that is when the temperature is mild and the sap flows better, allowing a better removal of the bark. The bud grafting is carried out in July, August, by taking a portion of the bark with a bud attached. Both the withdrawals and the grafts must be done on vigorous trees, even the buds must be taken from the healthiest and most vigorous branches. The removal of the buds must be carried out before it sprouts and goes into flower, therefore in a period before spring. Non-flowering buds must be dark and should be kept cool in a bag, to facilitate drying. The grafting operation will be carried out in the summer, when a cut will be made on the rootstock, about 15 centimeters from the trunk, with a shape that must coincide perfectly with that of the bud. The cut should only concern the bark. By gently lifting the edges of the same, we proceed to insert the gem. Depending on the shape of the cut, it will be possible to have an eye or a shield or a flute graft. The grafted part must be tied with raffia or specific rubber ropes for agriculture, taking care to leave the gem uncovered. The graft must be checked every ten to fifteen days to check the conditions of the ligature. Generally, if the graft takes root, it can be seen from the widening of the rope, which must be narrowed, but not excessively, taking into account the development of the plant. The cut for grafting must be made with a special knife, consisting of a well-sharpened blade that must be cleaned and disinfected before and after use.