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Post-Grafting Care (Stage 3)
Successful field grafting requires diligent care of the vines after the grafting process. There are three areas of importance in post-grafting care:
1) Monitoring and relieving vine pressure
Soon after grafting, a monitoring schedule should be developed for the management of sap bleeding, especially at the graft site. The pressure of sap flow must be relieved to prevent the scion from being pushed out of contact with the trunk cambium. Make two small diagonal incisions about 1/4" deep, just into the cambium, one each on either side of the trunk near the base. The trunk incisions enable most sap flow to escape before reaching the graft site. The first series of cuts are made by the vineyard staff during the trunk cutting stage. Subsequent cuts, just above the original cuts, should be made every 5 to 7 days. Additionally, all vines should be inspected every few days, beginning 3 days after grafting, for bleeding at the graft site. This is especially important during periods of warmer weather, when sap flow tends to increase. Any time that bleeding is seen at the graft, or previous trunk cuts have stopped bleeding, new trunk cuts should be made.
Although standard vineyard management practice prescribes their removal, trunk suckers can serve an important function for the field-grafted vine. Suckers divert sap pressure from the healing graft union and sustain the original vine if the grafts fail. Consider saving one strong dominant sucker, preferably on the upper trunk, to provide new wood upon which to graft, if necessary. Allow suckers to grow until the buds are showing strong growth, at least one foot long. The shoots may require 4-6 weeks to become well established, then suckers may be removed.
The graft union remains in a fragile state while the new shoots are growing and is susceptible to damage from wind shaking the shoots. New shoots should be tied to the trellis wires for support as soon as they reach a length of 12-18".
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