NOTE: This list is for deciduous scions only. Subtropical scion wood is handled very differently.
IMPORTANT: Make sure your tree is healthy and disease free if you harvest scion wood from it! If your tree is diseased (bacterial canker, oozing / open wounds, etc.) these diseases can be present in the scions that you harvest and they will be transmitted to an otherwise healthy tree when it is grafted on. You must make sure that your trees and scions are healthy to help minimize the transmission of tree diseases.
- Wait until the tree has entered dormancy before harvesting. In Phoenix this is typically the second half of December. The tree should have lost all its leaves and all buds should be closed, dark and small. Dormancy here is typically mid-Dec to mid-Jan. But don't wait too long! My Floridaprince peach for example is usually blooming by mid-Jan.
- Suitable scion wood will be between 1/8" to 1/2" in diameter. Anything smaller or larger will be too difficult to cleft graft. You can do chip budding with larger diameter wood. But sticking with this size range is good for nearly all grafting applications.
- Harvest scion wood with a clean sharp disinfected pair of pruners.
- As a convention, many grafters will trim the scions so that orientation is obvious. A flat cut is used to indicate the base end (toward the trunk) and a slanted cut is used to indicate the top end (toward the branch terminal). It is typically easy to see which way the buds are facing, but cutting in this manner makes the scion "direction" easy to identify.
- Store scion wood in a heavy duty ziploc bag (the thick freezer bags work well). Take a piece of lightly damp paper towel. Basically add a little water and wring it out until no more water drips. Wrap your scions in the towel and stick in the bag. This will prevent scions from drying out.
- LABEL YOUR BAG!!! You need to know your variety.
- Put the bag in the refrigerator, NOT the freezer. Put in it the bottom of the fridge, and it will stay there for months.
If you follow these steps, you will have fresh wood that is perfect for grafting in the spring.