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Pre-Grafting Preparation (Stage 1)
Scion Wood Collection
Grafting success is highly dependant upon the quality and size of the scion wood. Scion should be collected only from healthy plants in a strong section of the vineyard, exhibiting no stress or disease problems. Canes that have been well-exposed to sun are preferred, as opposed to shade canes. If you are purchasing or taking scion from another vineyard, make sure you verify with your provider the quality, cleanliness, and health status of the mother plants.
Scion should be collected during the winter months, preferably in January or February. Avoid taking wood after a "freeze event" to lessen the likelihood of collecting damaged buds or canes. The buds should be dormant and well hardened off.
Larger caliper scion is necessary for field grafting than that typically used for bench grafting. Look for canes that are 5/16" to 9/16" in diameter and round, not flattened on one side. Cane length can be up to approximately 2 ft. long. Cut canes so that there is plenty of stem extending on either end so that fresh cuts can be made on grafting day during scion preparation. For the most efficient use of scion wood, canes should be cut so that the bud count is in multiples of 2, since each scion piece grafted will have 2 buds. Collect enough scion wood to supply two scion pieces per grafted vine, plus an additional 10% to ensure a good selection of suitable wood for grafting. Be sure to keep canes moist during collection.
Keep canes moist and cool during storage. Bundle canes in groups of 100 and wrap in pre-moistened newspaper. Label each bundle with the variety name using a permanent label, and place in a plastic trash bag or other "air-proof" poly bag to prevent moisture loss during storage. Seal the bags and put in cold storage just above freezing (34-36oF). Canes should only be removed from storage on the day before grafting. Place bundles (still in their bags) in a shady, cool location to enable a gradual rise to ambient air temperature. Take out only enough for one day's worth of grafting, and leave the remainder in storage.
The best time for field grafting is late spring when the vines are starting to push new growth. Try to graft when the vines are dry to reduce the risk of diseases.