Last winter, my Williams Pride apple tree was girdled at the base, just
below the graft. It has always been a good producer, and gave a good
of apples this year. However, now I see the tree is in distress,
especially at it's top (leaves wilting). I read where one can do a
graft over the girdled portion. What would be the best time to do that,
and what other advice can be given on this problem?
I have an apple tree that I bridge grafted several years ago. It is
doing just fine. The time to do the bridge grafting was last spring
before it started to grow. If it is completely girdled, it will
certainly die unless you do something. It might be too late already.
How much growing season do you have left? Are you in the north, like me,
where the maple leaves are turning color already? If not, you might try
Did it send up some sprouts from below the girdle? They usually do and I
HOPE you did not cut them off. If you have sprouts, you can use them to
make the bridge.
Take the leaves off the sprout, and cut the end with a slant so that the
slant faces the trunk above the girdle. Cut an upside down T in the bark
of the trunk. Place it just a little lower that where the cut sprout
touches it. Open the T to expose the cambium layer. Flex the sprout down
to fit in the T. If you did it right, the sprout will be slightly bent
and trying to push up into the T in the trunk. Masking tape make a good
wrap to seal up the graft. Make it tight to keep the sprout in tight
contact with the cambium under the bark.
If you have no sprouts, wait until next year. Cut some apple scions
while the wood is still completely dormant. Get it from another tree if
the tree you are working on didn't produce any straight new growth that
is long enough to bridge across the girdled area. Store the scions in a
plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Do the graft just about the time the tree will begin growth. Make the
same upside down T in the trunk. Make a right side up T below the
girdle. Dig away some soil if needed. Tape up both ends as above (or
otherwise seal the openings). Do 3 or more of these grafts depending on
the size of the tree and depending on how much room you have.
I feel like I wrote a book. What did I forget?
Steve in the Adirondacks
Not much, we are in the Chicago area, although we have had mild
lately. The maples here have not yet started to turn color.
Are you in the north, like me,
They usually do and I
Didn't cut them off, but they are very thin. Don't you need something
about 1/2 diameter or more?
Although I have some small sprouts, maybe I should wait until next
Is that before blossom set?
And I appreciate the effort. I think you laid it out pretty clearly.
closely moniter the tree for any signs of recovery, and if necessary,
move in the Spring. This is really a great producing tree, and I
would hate to
lose it. However, I am worried that it may recover on it's own, and
with bridge grafts may worsen the situation.
No, 1/2 half inch would be way too big. They would be too stiff to hold
them tight where they need to be. If they are tall enough to reach
above the damaged area, that is all you need. They will get thicker very
fast after they attach to the main tree! (but maybe not until next summer)
Sprouts are great because you only have to graft the upper end. The
lower end already has a perfect connection to the roots. That makes
success much more likely.
I would get out there and graft one or 2 of them this week. Save one or
2 for next spring. (not sure how many you have) The roots have been
starving all summer with no food coming down from above. Grafting now
might be the difference between life and death.
I've never waited until fall myself, so that's why I say you might save
one or 2 for next spring, just in case.
Make sure the upper end of the sprout gets grafted into live bark. The
bark may be alive right above the girdled area but you can tuck the
graft in some inches higher if needed.
That is before anything green starts to show. When the buds are swelling.
No, not a chance. If it is girdled all the way around, it will die. You
need to restore a connection to the roots to have any chance of saving
If there is a small bit of bark still connecting top and bottom, it
could recover but the tree will be stunted for years. I would still do
the grafting to connect more of the tree.
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