Group Title: Bulletin University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station
Title: Top-working pecans
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 Material Information
Title: Top-working pecans
Series Title: Bulletin University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station
Alternate Title: Top working pecans
Physical Description: p. 357-373, 3 leaves of plates : ill. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Hume, H. Harold ( Hardrada Harold ), 1875-1965
Publisher: Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Place of Publication: Lake City Fla
Publication Date: 1901
Subject: Pecan   ( lcsh )
Budding (Plant propagation)   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: by H. Harold Hume.
General Note: Cover title.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00005167
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: ltqf - AAA6485
ltuf - AEN1447
oclc - 18155843
alephbibnum - 000921007

Full Text



I ,




The Bulletins of this Station will be sent free to any address
in Florida upon application to the Director of the Experi-
ment Station, Lake City, Fla.


JUNE, 1901,


HON. GEO. W. WILSON, President ----.. ___ Jacksonville
HON. F. E. HARRIS, Vice-President_ ----------------. Ocala
HON. J. D. CALLAWAY, Secretary _---- __ Lake City
HON. C. A. CARSON, Chairman Executive Committee----
_---------- _..______ ------------- __-Kissimmee
HON. J. R. PARROTT_ -------. Jacksonville
HON. E. D. BEGGS Pensacola
HON. L. HARRISON -----_--___ ___ _Lake City


W. F. YOCUM, A. M ..- -Director
H. E. STOCKBRIDGE, Ph. D __- --______ Agriculturist
H. K. MILLER, M. ScO__ _- Chemist
H. A. GOSSARD, M. Sc -----------__- Entomologist
H. HAROLD HUME, B. Agr. M. Sc., Botanist and Horticulturist
A. E. BLAIR, M. A ------ ----. __ Assistant Chemist
W. P. JERNIGAN -_- ----- Auditor and Bookkeeper
JOHN F. MITCHELL -oreman of Station Farm
JOHN H. JEFFRIES_ _Gardener in Horticultural Department
VIRGINIA M. WIGFIELD -________ Librarian
MINNIE HELVENSTON ------____ __ _ Stenographer



Top-Working Pecans. -- -------
Grafting _
Cleft Grafting ---- --
Annular Budding ----------
Veneer Shield-Budding ------
The Care of Top-worked Trees ----
Summary -_. ----------------------_
Explanation of Plates -

--------- -361
--.------- 365
-----.---- 368
-- -371
----------- 372
------- 373

Interest in the pecan industry is steadily increasing,
not only in our own State, but in others of the Southern
States as well. Since the publication last year of Bulletin
No. 54, Pecan Culture, A Preliminary Report, the author has
visited many pecan groves of the State during the fruiting
season, and has been forcibly struck by the fact that very
large numbers of small, inferior nuts are produced. This is
not as it should be, and the fact that such is the case is but
proof of the folly of planting nuts or seedling trees. These
are seedling groves and doubtless they are the outgrowth of
the very best selected nuts. True, a considerable propor-
tion of seedling trees produce good, sizable nuts, but scores
produce inferior nuts, but little larger than chinquapins,
and it is a fact which cannot be gainsaid that the seedling
pecan, up to the time of fruiting, is an unknown quantity,
after which it is too often a disappointment. It is not neces-
sary to say that such trees are unprofitable, and the ques-
tion naturally arises, what is to be done with them? Only
two answers can be given; one is, cut them down and plant
budded or grafted trees of desirable varieties. The other
is, top-work them. It is needless to say choose the latter,
but do not work over all the trees in the grove simply
because they are seedlings. Those which produce a goodly
quantity of marketable nuts should by all means be allowed
to remain; top-work the remainder.
Realizing the importance of the question asked and
answered above, considerable attention has been given to the
matter. The fact that top-working of pecan trees can be
successfully done has been placed beyond the shadow of a
doubt, as evidenced in the grove of Dr. J. B. Curtis, of Or-
ange Heights. Photographs are shown of some of the top-
worked trees or portions of them, and much valuable infor-
mation has been secured from the work done there. Pecan
trees have been successfully top-worked in Louisiana and
others of the Gulf States, but it is extremely doubtful
whether the work can be successfully done at any great dis-
tance North. This is due to the climatic conditions.


Trees may be top-worked at any age, but the same line
of procedure should not be
adopted in all cases. Figure 1
shows the sprouts from an old
stump in which dormant buds
have been inserted.
Plate No. m is from a photo-
graph of a ten year old seedling
trunk, bearing a three year old
Van Deman top.
Plate No. i, Figure 3 is that-
of an old tree, top-worked by
cutting back and grafting the ,
branches. It is best to insert
both buds and grafts in parts
having smooth bark, though FIG.1. Methods ofbudding and graft-
grafts can be placed in rough- 1. Dormant buds inserted in sprouts.
barked parts as well. Fre- gted. cut back and cleft
quently trees are in a very undesirable condition for top-
working, and it should be borne in mind that those branches
nearest the center of the tree will give the best results.
More food material is directed into them and in consequence
the inserted buds or grafts make a more rapid, satisfactory
growth. If the tree is not in good shape for working; i. e.,
if no branches of desirable size and age are found in conveni-
ent place, the tree should be trimmed to a pollard, cutting
the main branches back to stubs, and when shoots have
started from these, they should be grafted or budded. In
about six months from the time the adventitious buds have
started, under average conditions, buds or grafts may be
The method of procedure depends upon the size and age
of the tree and upon whether the tree is to be budded or
grafted. In grafting, the portions above the point of inser-
tion of the grafts must be removed at the time the operation
is performed, while if a veneer-shield or annular bud is in-
serted, this is not the case. In top-working old trees only a


portion of the branches should be worked at one time, for if
the whole top be removed, the tree suffers a severe shock; it
may be killed outright, if not, its vitality is much reduced.
Two or three years must elapse before the whole top of an
old tree can be worked over, removing and replacing a por-
tion of the top each season.

I 1v

CUT 1. Cions. 1-3 Curtis; 4-6 Van Deman.
7-8 Stuart,
1 Poor Cion, long, slender, pithy.
2-4-5-7-8 Cions from 1 yr. growth,
3 Cion partly one, partly two years old.
6 Cion with cut, back of tip.
8 Cion which bore fruit at a.
With young trees three or four years old or older, if of
small size, the whole top can be removed at one time, and
grafts or buds inserted in the main branches, or in some
cases, in the trunk.
The practice of taking cions and buds from young trees
which have never borne or from nursery stock cannot be too
strongly condemned. They should be cut only from thrifty,

vigorous, prolific trees. Even trees of the same variety differ
in these things, and a thorough knowledge of what a tree
will do and has done is the only true guide in the selection of
cions. It is a well-known fact that desirable qualities can be
reproduced and perpetuated by grafting. Furthermore, if
grafts or buds be taken from good bearing trees, fruit may
be secured from top-worked trees in two years, and the
third year a considerable number of nuts is usually ob-
tained. Cut I, Fig. 8, shows a graft from a Stuart tree
which would, without doubt, produce nuts at an early date
after insertion. The point (a) is where a nut was borne the
past season.
Grafts should be selected from well matured stock of
one year's growth. Cut I, Fig. 1, shows an undesirable cion.
The wood is angular, small, the internodes long, and the pith
large in proportion to the diameter. Either terminal por-
tions of twigs may be used or portions back of the tip, but
the buds should always be well developed, full and plump,
Cut I, Figs. 2 and 6. For this reason grafts should not be
cut from wood far back from the tip of the branch. As
stated already, twigs of the previous season's growth are
generally used, but cions composed partly of two-year-old
wood may be used, provided the growth is not too large.
Cut I. Fig. 3, shows one of these. Grafts are generally cut
about five or six inches long and should be from one-quarter
to three-eights of an inch in thickness.
It is best that the grafts be cut while still in a dormant
state, and as noted later, inserted in the stock just before
growth starts. The cions may be kept for a considerable
length of time by placing them, loosely packed, in damp
moss or saw dust, in a box. The box should be covered over
with earth and the cions kept sufficiently moist to prevent
drying out. The difference in the condition of the stock and
cion, it should be understood, is not absolutely necessary, as
good results are frequently obtained without these precau-
tions, but in grafting the pecan a difference in dormancy is
extremely desirable, and is an important factor in securing
good results.

For bud sticks, well developed one-year-old branches,
one-half to seven-eighths of an inch in diameter and on which
the buds are well formed, are selected. Such sticks fre-
quently show three buds at a node (Fig. 6), and if some mis-
fortune should overtake one or two of these, there is still a
chance of success, though the upper one being the strongest
is generally the one which starts, provided it is uninjured'
and the bud takes. The degree of maturity of the bud is
important and care should be exercised that only those
which are plump, full and well developed, are used. It is
easy to distinguish between desirable and undesirable buds.
Grafting should be done in spring or just at the time the
buds start, from the middle of February to the middle of
March being about the season for Northern and Western
Florida. The preference is for the latter part of the season,
provided there is not too much work to be done, because the
growth will soon start and there is less danger of misfortune
to the graft, and the conditions are more favorable for a good
union. Trees may be grafted on the trunk if small. If of
medium size, the operation should be performed on the main
branches a little way from the'trunk, and if large, the grafts
should be inserted on the branches farther up from the
trunk. The attempt should not be made to bud or graft over
the whole top of a large tree in one season. Only a few
branches should be worked each year, and in the course of
three, four or five years, depending upon the size of the tree,
the old top can be entirely replaced by the new variety.
Two methods of grafting may be used, cleft and whip or
tongue, but the latter can only be used on small branches,
(less than one inch) while the former method can be used on
large stock. A modification of cleft'grafting, known as cleft
sap grafting, has been used in Florida with success. The
latter method is used on the larger size of stocks and does
not materially differ from cleft grafting, except that the
clefts are made to one side of the center and frequently two
are made in the stock in place of one. This latter method is
to be preferred for the workinglof very large stocks, If the

cuts are made to one side of the center, the pressure on the
cion is very much lessened, whereas, if the cion is placed in
the center of the stock, as in the ordinary method of cleft
grafting, the tissue of the cion may be injured to such an ex-
tent as to prevent a union. However, it is by no means ad-
visable to graft very large limbs, for the cut ends do not heal
over readily. If left thus exposed for a considerable length
of time, as must necessarily be the case, the germs of decay
may find entrance and cause rotting of the portion, which
will undoubtedly spread to the older wood. In view of this
fact, it is not deemed advisable to graft branches which ex-
ceed two and one-half inches in diameter at the very outside.
The tocls and materials required in the performance of
the work are a grafting iron, a mallet, an ordinary budding
knife, grafting wax and strips of waxed cloth.
A good grafting wax may be made as follows:
Resin --------- ----- -- --- --- 6 lbs.
Beeswax ---------------. ------2 lbs.
Linseed oil -- --------- ----------1 lb.
The resin should be finely broken up; the
beeswax should be cut in small pieces, and these
together with the linseed oil should be placed
over a slow flame and melted. This done, the
liquid should be poured out into a bucket of
water, and as soon as it is cool enough to handle,
it should be pulled until it assumes a light color.
To prepare the cloth, grafting wax is melted,
old cotton is cut into strips, one inch wide or Fig. 2. Grafting
narrower, rolled on a square stick, six inches iron.
long, and dropped into the melted wax, or pieces of the cot-
ton four or five inches wide may be used, wound around a
stick as before, and afterwards cut up. In using grafting
wax, the hands should be greased to prevent sticking,
Cleft Grafting. Having selected the branch for cleft
grafting and the point at which the cions are to be inserted,
the branch should be carefully and smoothly cut off. If the
branch is large, this should be done after the manner illus-
trated in Figure 3, making the lower cut first, in order to

prevent splitting. The stub (s) can
then be cut squarely off just below
the lower cut, i. e., at the point
Chosen. The limb is then split by
Using the grafting iron. If rapid
work is to be done, grafts should be
S" prepared beforehand and carried to
.. the field, wrapped in damp paper.
In preparing the cion, a sloping cut
S should be made about one and one-
half inches long, cutting into the
pith from a point one-half way .up
F.IG 3. Method of cutting large the cut down to the lower end. On
branches to prevent splitting, the opposite side the cut should not
1. First cut. be made to touch the pith, but
2. Second cut.
3. Stub. should be confined to woody tissue
throughout its whole length. The knife should have a keen,
sharp edge. The cut should be clean,
smooth and straight, and the cion
should be left wider on the outer side. f
Start the cuts on each side of and just
at a bud, as shown in Fig. 4. H
Having made the cleft, it is
opened with the wedge on the end
of the grafting iron and the cion
is placed in position. The cambium lay-
ers should be in contact. Slip the cion i
well down until the whole of the cut sur- '
face is within the cleft. If the stock is
large enough insert two cions. After
inserting the cion it should be firmly
held in place by binding the stock with
strips of wax cloth, after which a cover- '
ing of wax may be placed over the cloth. I
The cut end of the stock should be cov- 1
ered, and if the cion be other than a ter- FIG. 4. Cleft-grafting.
minal shoot, its distal end should be 1. Stonk showing cleft.
waxed also. 2. Cion inserted ready
for tying. .


FIG. 5. whip Grafting.
1. Stock showing cut.
2. Cion.
'3. Stock and cion
ready for bandage.

As already stated, branches which
are to be worked by whip-grafting must
be less than one inch in diameter. The
method is illustrated in Fig. 5. A slop-
ing cut, an inch and a half long, is made
diagonally across the stock. A corres-
ponding cut is made on the cion, a
tongue is raised about the center of each
cut by making another cut with the bud-
ding knife held almost parallel to the
sides of the wood. The tongue is raised
a little on both stock and cion and the
two are shoved together. They should
be securely bound with a strip of wax
cloth and a layer of grafting wax should
be spread over the whole, covering up
all the cut surfaces to the exclusion of
water, air and the germs of decay.
The cion and stock are preferably
chosen of nearly the same size, but a
cion somewhat smaller than the stock
may be used, in which case the cambium
layers along one side of the surface in
contact should be placed opposite each

other, and the projecting portion of the stock trimmed off.


In Florida and perhaps most of the Southern States,
more particularly those bordering on the Gulf, the -time for
budding is during the month of August and early Septem-
ber. During this season the atmosphere is generally quite
moist, the buds are in good condition, the sap flows freely,
and better results are obtained then than at any other time.
Too much stress cannot be laid upon the condition of the
stock and the weather, both -in budding and in grafting.
Upon these depend in a large measure the success of the
The same general rules apply to the top-working of trees

by budding as by grafting. That portion of the branch
above the point where the buds are inserted should not be
cut off until the bud has either started or made a firm union
with the stock. An attempt should not be made to work
over the whole top of a tree at one time.
Two methods of budding pecan trees are in common
use. The annular and a modification of it known as the
veneer shield, to which reference has already been made in
Bulletin No. 54. The latter method is probably the preferable.
It is very difficult to cut annular or veneer shield buds
so that they will fit exactly. It is important that they
should, and with the ordinary budding knife it is almost im-
possible, or can be accomplished only at the expense of a
great deal of time and patience. A knife which will do the
work satisfactorily should have two blades with their cutting
edges in the same plane firmly attached to a common handle.
A very satisfactory knife may be made from two ordinary
budding knives and a piece of wood three-quarters of an inch
square and four inches or so in length. To opposite sides of
this the knives are attached by means of rivets or by firmly
binding them with twine.
Mr. J. H. Girardeau of Monticello thus describes his
budding knife, which has given excellent satisfaction: "Two
budding blades are set in a wooden handle with their cutting

edges exactly parallel and
one inch apart." In this
case the blades of the bud-
ding knives are removed
from their handles and in-
serted in the wooden one.
Annular Budding. -By
this method branches three-
quarters of an inch or less
in diameter may be worked.
It is preferable that the stock
and cion be of the same size.
From the stock remove a
ring of bark from one inch

I f C

FIG. 6. Annular Budding,
1. Stock prepared for bud.
2. Bud.
3. Bud in place and tied.

to one and a half inches long. On the bud stick select a
good plump bud and from it remove- the bud by taking out a
ring which will exactly fit that already made on the stock.
To do this it is necessary to make a slit on the side of the ring
opposite that on which the bud is. The ring of bark should
then be carefully removed and placed upon the stock in the
place already prepared for it. Following this the bud should
be securely tied in place, using a strip of the waxed cloth al-
ready described. The bandage should be brought around
the stock so as to cover the cuts, but the bud should be left
Veneer Shield-Budding.-If this method be used it is not

4 J.
',,' I IB<, t '' l l' (l
-/'- --

FIG. 7. Veneer Shield-Budding.
a. Bud cut.
b. Bud inserted and tied.
(Drawing by Miss G, L. Yocum.)
From Bul. 54, Fla. Exp. Station,

essential that the stock and
cion be of the same size, and
so far as size alone goes al-
most any stock may be
used. A square piece of
bark is removed from the
side of the stock. From the
bud-stick a bud is cut in
much the same way as al-
ready indicated for the an-
nular method. If the stock
is larger than the cion, it
will be necessary to flatten
out the cylinder of bark,
which holds the bud. Hav-
ing placed the shield of
bark in position, it should

be firmly tied. It is very essential that the buds be tightly
tied in place.

Frequently the buds will make a start the same season
they are inserted, but often they act as dormant buds and
do not begin growth until the following spring. In either
case it is the usual practice to cut off or lop the top just be-
fore growth starts the next season. In removing the upper
portion of the stock the cut may be made six or eight inches

above the bud and the cut surface painted over with white
lead. This stub may then be used during the first season at
least, as a support for the young shoot. It may be tied to
the stub, using a piece of soft twine.

For several months after the new top has commenced to
grow the cions have but a slight hold upon the stock, and as
the growth is usually very vigorous and the leaf surface
great, considerable damage is frequently done by strong
winds. To prevent this the young shoots may be tied to-
gether or fastened to other portions of the stock. If this be
done, care should be taken that the twine used does not do in-
jury by cutting into the wood. To obviate this a piece of
burlap should be placed around the branch beneath the
twine and the twine should be removed as soon as it has
served its purpose. In some cases the top may be sup-
ported by lashing a pole against the side of the trunk and
fastening the grafts to the upper part of this, or a pole may
be driven into the ground at some distance from the trunk,
fastened against a branch or stub of a branch above and
used in the same way. After the top has grown sufficiently
to take care of itself these posts can of course be removed.
Plate I; Fig. 1, and Plate n, Fig. 2, show methods of sup-
porting the top. Sometimes after the top has made consid-
erable growth, and particularly if large branches are allowed
to develop opposite each other, they are split apart and the
whole top ruined. Fig. 1 shows this very undesirable growth
of opposite branches, and Fig. 2 shows one of the best ways
by which they may be held together. A bolt having a stout
washer against the head is placed through the two branches.
A second washer is placed on and the nut screwed up. This
bolt will, in the course of a few years, be entirely covered.
By this means the tree trunks are firmly bound together,
and this same plan may be used to save branches which have
partially split apart.


1. In seedling pecan groves there are frequently many
trees which are unprofitable because of the small, inferior
nuts produced. They may be made profitable by top-work-
ing them.
2. Cions should be cut only from bearing trees of good
3. Top-working may be performed by grafting in Feb-
ruary and March, or budding in August and September.
4. The most satisfactory method of grafting is the ordi-
nary cleft graft or a modification of it known as cleft sap
5. Two methods of budding may be used: the annular
and veneer shield, but the latter is the more useful.
6. The new branches should be supported until they
have become firmly attached.
7. Top-worked trees commence to bear when the tops
are two years old.
The methods used in top-working trees may be used in
nursery work as well, though the whip or tongue is the
method of grafting most commonly adopted. Cions are in-
serted just at the small fibrous roots and the earth heaped
up so as to leave only one bud exposed. Buds may be in-
serted anywhere from five or six inches to three feet above
the crown. H. HAROLD HUME.

1. Top-worked tree, showing points at which cions were
inserted and pole used for support.
2. Method of holding trunks together by means of a
3. Budded tree with top removed to throw all nourish-
ment into new top.
4. Pecan shoots inarched,
1. Top-worked tree, var. Curtis, showing undesirable
branching from stock, likely to be split by wind.
2. Method of supporting grafts by means of large posts.
3. Method of working over a large tree by cutting back
and grafting branches. Var. Rome.
Seven year trunk bearing a two year top. 23x20 ft. Var.
Van Deman.
1. Tree without foliage. Dark spots are nut husks.
3. Tree in leaf.
2. Close view of union. Note where a large branch
was removed.





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