We love growing our own avocado trees. We can have avocados any time we want, and with the help of the Avoseedo, rooting a tree from an avocado pit is as easy as it gets. However, the one downside to growing an avocado tree from a pit is that avocado trees take years to mature. If you want your avocado tree to produce fruit faster, you can graft avocado trees.
Problems With Growing An Avocado Tree
The 7 to 10 years it takes for an avocado tree to mature aren’t our only problems, unfortunately. When we root an avocado pit we bought at the grocery store, we are likely rooting a hybrid. This fact means that the avocados we produce on our homegrown tree will have a different genetic code than the one we ate. It could be no problem at all, or it could mean we spend years tending an avocado tree that never produces fruit, or worse, produces inedible fruit.
We don’t want to spend nearly a decade watering, pruning, and fertilizing an avocado tree that we never get to enjoy. If you want to make sure you enjoy the superfruits of your labor, there is an alternative. Instead of growing your avocado tree naturally, you can “topwork,” or graft, your avocado tree.
What Is Topworking?
Topworking is the process of grafting a branch from a mature avocado tree onto your young, homegrown tree. This process cuts down the number of years it takes your tree to start producing avocados and also ensures that the fruits you grow will be just as delicious as those on the mature tree that donated the branch.
How To Graft Your Avocado Tree
Once your homegrown avocado tree has reached a height of about 3 feet, it is ready to receive a grafted branch. This process is best undertaken in the spring when the bark slips easiest off the inner tree.
1. Sterilize Your Tools
Dip your cutting tools in rubbing alcohol or any other sterilizer and allow them to air dry. You do not want to introduce any bacteria into your graft accidentally.
2. Select Your Graft Branch
Find a healthy avocado tree that produces reliable edible fruit. Select a branch from this tree that is “budwood,” or a branch that is producing buds. The best buds are towards the end of branches between ¼ inch and 1 inch in diameter.
3. Cut Healthy Branches
Once you identify healthy budwood, use your sterilized cutting tool to cut 6-inch lengths of healthy branch tips. Then make sure each cutting contains several buds on it. Take 6 to 8 cuttings and wrap them in damp paper towels to keep them fresh. Lay them in a bowl of ice to keep them cool.
4. Prepare Your Graft Site
On your growing avocado tree, called the “rootstock,” locate sites for your grafts. These locations should be on a branch approximately 12 inches from the trunk. Make a T-shaped cut in each place. Make the long side of the T about an inch long and parallel to the branch. Then make the short side cut approximately ⅓ of the way through the branch. Take care not to damage your rootstock branch. Finally, use your knife to pry bark away from where the 2 cuts meet.
5. Remove a Bud From the Budwood
Select a healthy bud from the budwood and cut it off along with bark and cambium. When making your cut, you must keep the bud connected to bark and cambium underneath. The cambium is the green layer found just beneath the bark.
6. Graft the Bud
Once you successfully remove your bud, it’s time to graft! Take your removed bud and bring it to the graft site on your rootstock. Place the long end of the budwood into the long side of the T cut. The bud should sit in the intersection of your T cut on the rootstock. Last, ensure the cambium layers of the bud and the rootstock are touching; this is essential for a successful graft.
7. Secure Your Graft
Once you place your graft, it’s time to make sure it stays there. Wrap the budded graft above and below the bud. Specialized grafting tape is ideal for this task, but rubber bands can work too. Make sure you do not wrap the bud. Next, repeat steps 4-6 with all the buds collected from the mature tree, placing them on different branches of your rootstock.
8. Remove the Grafting Tape
After 3 or 4 weeks, your grafts will have healed, and the buds will be attached to your avocado tree. With a successful graft, now the buds will begin to open, and this is when you should remove the grafting tape or rubber bands. As the new branches grow, they will produce avocados.
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