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The Grafting Process (Stage 2)
Vineyard staff, and not the grafting crew, are responsible for much of the pre-grafting vine and field preparations. Make sure you have adequate staff on hand to stay well ahead of the grafter's pace, as these professionals are normally paid by the graft. There is typically one grafter per row, working one row at a time until the row is completed.
Trunk Cutting. On grafting day, the vineyard staff is responsible for cutting off vine trunks ahead of the grafting crew. Determine the desired height of the head on the new vine before cutting. Since field grafting provides an opportunity to change training systems, such decisions may affect where the trunks are cut. If a new head height of 28" is desired, then cut the trunk just below that height (approximately 24"). This cut should be made at a clean, unblemished surface area of the trunk. Try to be as accurate in cutting height as possible, yet efficient.
If vine trunks are approx. 1½" to 2" in caliper, it is possible to use large loppers for the cut. Any trunk larger than 2" may require a chainsaw; handsaws are slow and inefficient. Make sure you have enough tools for the vineyard staff to stay ahead of the grafters. The vineyard crew should clear away and dispose of any brush that might hinder the grafters' progress.
Basal Trunk Incisions. Make two small diagonal incisions about 1/4" deep, just into the cambium, one each on either side of the trunk near the base, to allow the vine to "bleed". This must be done before the graft is made, since there is a likelihood that the pressure from sap flow will push the graft out. A fine-toothed hand pruning saw is adequate for making these simple cuts.