Omega Grafting Tool

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Norcal, May 4, 2005.

  1. Norcal

    Norcal Member

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    Has anyone tried or know of anyone who has used the omega grafting tool? If so how was the success?
    Below is a link showing the device http://www.htc.com.au/omega/
    Thank you
     
  2. SilverVista

    SilverVista Active Member

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    A good friend of mine -- in fact, the person who originally taught me to graft -- is currently the propagation manager at a large wholesale nursery. As an "extra project," they graft and root a couple million wine grape starts on contract every year. They use the omega tool on the grapes. They also graft about 10,000 Japanese Maple every year. They do all the maples by hand, making side-wedge grafts.

    The grapes are grafted from dormant cuttings of both the rootstock and the scions. That's right, the rootstock isn't rooted yet when it is grafted! It makes it very easy to use the cutting tool because rootstock and scion can be quickly graded and selected to be a close match for caliper. There are no roots or pots to get in the way, no media to spill from a pot. Just make sure both sticks are pointing the right direction, insert and punch. Grapes have a spongey heart that looks and feels like styrofoam. Once the two pieces are cut and fitted together, that texture helps them grip each other without slipping while the joint is wrapped and waxed. Grafted and waxed, they can be held in the cooler for several days till there are enough to direct-stick in pots and place in the greenhouse with bottom heat to callus and root.

    Japanese maple grafting, at least in Oregon, is better done as a summer crop. (I do know one person who grafts maples onto bare-root, dormant rootstock in the winter and then heels them in over a hot callus tube, but that's another story!) Caliper of both rootstock and scions are significantly smaller than the grape cuttings, making less to fit together after omega-cutting. Obviously, maple rootstock in the summer is potted and growing, leaving the pot to interfere with placement of the stem in the cutter. If a good join doesn't callus immediately, maples will die back to the next lower node because there is nothing to pull the sap upwards. The tool doesn't allow for leaving the top on the rootstock while the scion is knitting in. Ideally, rootstock and scion caliper would be chosen to be a close match, but in reality, scions of many Japanese maples don't have a prayer of approaching the 1/4 to 3/8" caliper of the rootstock.

    If you're interested in this tool to increase production rates and you have huge quantities of scion to select from, then it might be an interesting investment to play with. But if you're looking at it as a way to circumvent learning to make a good side-wedge or whip-and-tongue graft by hand, I would have to say that hand-grafting is actually easier.

    Keep in mind this is just one cantankerous woman's opinion!

    Susan
     
  3. Andre

    Andre Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Hi Susan,

    So what do you think is the best option ?
    If it's in summer, when exactly beginning of end of summer ?

    Do you think this is a good way to proceed ?

    Thank you ;-)
     
  4. SilverVista

    SilverVista Active Member

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    Andre, any time that there is a flush of growth that has hardened off, and enough time for the graft to knit and become established, you can graft. Here in Oregon, we get two distinct flushes of growth -- spring and late summer. I'm already watching some trees -- the spring flush should be hardening in the next 4 to 6 weeks, and then it's lots of weekend and evening work for me! The late summer/early fall flush is not as dependable as the spring flush. That is to say, not every bud will put on another flush of growth. Some branches will remain hardened and go into winter with just the growth they put on in the spring, others will push another full 3-node or longer growth in the fall. I graft from the late-summer/early fall flush too, but it is a bit trickier to make sure that the scion has callused in time to be prepared for winter.

    The website you linked is pretty much identical to what I do. He is showing a dormant scion, though. When scions are cut in the summer, I cut off the leaves, leaving about half of the petiol to protect the axillary buds. If grafting is done before the light begins to wane in the fall, the buds will push one more flush of growth, proving that the scion has callused, before going dormant for winter. The website shows each scion individually enclosed in a plastic bag. That might work if you only have a few grafts, but it looks to me like an awful lot of work, and there is the chance of dislodging the placement of the scion when you pull the bag over and secure it. Instead, I use a very light-weight plastic sheet and enclose the entire flat. In fact, when I'm doing several hundred, I place the flats in beds 2 flats wide and 8 flats deep (49 2-3/8" pots per flat). Then I use 8' wide 2-mil construction poly to enclose the entire bed. It's necessary to lift the poly frequently to check for moisture in the potting media, and to look for fungus, but usually within just a couple of weeks, you can see the old petioles falling off and the new leaves emerging from the buds.

    That website also doesn't make nearly a strong enough point that your knife must be honed to razor sharpness, and smooth so that the plant tissue isn't torn or bruised while you are making your cuts. Nor does it emphasize the importance of a clean knife. I keep a small spice jar (about 3" deep and 1" wide) filled with isopropyl alcohol, and stand the knife in the alcohol to sterilize it about every 5 cuts, making sure to wipe all the alcohol off with a clean cloth before cutting again. It does seem to make a big difference in preventing the unintended transfer of bacteria.

    Susan
     
  5. Layne Uyeno

    Layne Uyeno Active Member 10 Years

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    Andre,

    If you want to try some grafting I suggest getting something like this:

    http://www.japanwoodworker.com/product.asp?s=JapanWoodworker&pf_id=01.040.18&dept_id=13216

    Don't know if you can find this type of knife in your area, but these are very good for grafting. Sharpened with Japanese a waterstone up to 4000 thru 8000 grit these laminated knives become sharper than a surgeon's scapel. So sharp you can shave the hairs off the back of your knuckles. I do woodworking too as a hobby. If you do get one of these knives get one with a single bevel on one side of the blade only, right or left side depending on what hand you use for cutting. And, be very careful! It's very easy to cut yourself with one of the knives and not even know it till you see blood...they're that sharp.

    Layne
     
  6. Andre

    Andre Active Member Maple Society 10 Years

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    Thank you Susan and Layne,

    If you have the opportunity of taking some pictures of your work next month that would be helpful to see the way you do it.

    I would love to come over and try to help you doing all these graftings.

    Too bad !
     
  7. growest

    growest Active Member 10 Years

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    Dear experts--I'm just starting grafting a few different things( with very poor results so far.)

    I'm wondering about using my intermittent mist low tunnel for callusing up the ***. maple grafts? Since it is already going that time of summer, it would be the easiest way to keep the newly grafted guys humid. But will it wreck things having
    water running into the graft?

    Glen
     

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