Group Title: Bulletin - University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station ; 170
Title: Top-working pecan trees
Full Citation
Permanent Link:
 Material Information
Title: Top-working pecan trees
Series Title: Bulletin University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station
Alternate Title: Top working pecan trees
Physical Description: p. 165-188 : ill. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Blackmon, G. H ( Gulie Hargrove ), 1886-
Publisher: University of Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: 1924
Subject: Pecan   ( lcsh )
Grafting   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: by G.H. Blackmon.
General Note: Cover title.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00026413
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000922819
oclc - 18171528
notis - AEN3328

Full Text


The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.

Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida

Bulletin 170

Agricultural Experiment Station


Fig. 56.-Some popular varieties of pecans grown in Florida.

Bulletins will be sent free upon application to the Experiment Station,

May, 1924

P. K. YONGE, Chairman, Pensacola
W. L. WEAVER, Perry
J. C. COOPER, JR., Jacksonville
A. H. BLENDING, Leesburg
J. T. DIAMOND, Secretary, Tallahassee
J. G. KELLUM, Auditor, Tallahassee

WILMON NEWELL, D. Sc., Director
JOHN M. SCOTT, B. S., Vice Director and Animal Industrialist
J. R. WATSON, A. M., Entomologist
R. W. RUPRECHT, Ph. D., Chemist
O. F. BURGER, D. Sc., Plant Pathologist
G. H. BLACKMON, B. S. A., Pecan Culturist
W. B. TISDALE, Ph. D., Associate Plant Pathologist, Tobacco Ex-
periment Station (Quincy)
G. F. WEBER, Ph. D., Associate Plant Pathologist
J. H. JEFFERIES, Superintendent Citrus Experiment Station
(Lake Alfred)
A. H. BEYER, M. S., Assistant Entomologist
C. E. BELL, B. S., Assistant Chemist
W E. STOKES, M. S., Grass and Forage Crops Specialist
J. M. COLEMAN, B. S., Assistant Chemist
HAROLD MOWRY, Assistant Horticulturist
L. O. GRATZ, Ph. D., Assistant Plant Pathologist (Hastings)
ED L. AYERS, B. S., Agriculturist
A. S. RHOADS, Ph. D., Assistant Plant Pathologist
GEO. E. TEDDER, Foreman, Everglades Experiment Station (Belle
G lade)
A. W. LELAND, Farm Foreman
JESSE REEVES, Foreman, Tobacco Experiment Station (Quincy)
J.-G. KELLY, B. S. A., Lab. Asst. in Plant Pathology (Quincy)
ROBERT E NOLEN, B. S. A., Lab. Asst. in Plant Pathology
MARY E. ROUX, Mailing Clerk

K. H. GRAHAM, Auditor
RETTA MCQUARRIE, Assistant Auditor


Pecan Culturist

Top-working has been successfully practiced for many years in
the culture of apples and pears. With these trees the work is
almost always done by cutting off the small branches and cleft-
grafting the desired variety into them. By so doing, a new top
is readily formed, and, with the strong root system of the stock,
rapid growth is made and in a comparatively short time the new
tree or top is bearing fruit.
The importance of top-working, to convert the top of a fruit
or nut tree so that it will produce fruit of the desired character-
istics, has long been realized. However, early propagators of the
pecan met with such reverses that it was at first thought impos-
sible to propagate it by grafting. One of the first to successfully
top-work seedling pecans was E. E. Resien, San Saba, Texas, who,
realizing the great future of the pecan industry, worked over
some old seedlings on his place to improved varieties. Dr. J. B.
Curtis of Orange Heights was among the first to successfully do
this work in Florida. Trees that he top-worked years ago are
bearing successfully and are thrifty and increasing in size year
after year.


Scattered here and there thruout the pecan areas of Florida
are seedlings and unsatisfactory varieties of pecans that may be
transformed into varieties that would give better results, if top-
worked to varieties of known worth. New varieties could be tried
where failures have resulted, and others in undesirable locations
might be given another opportunity to make good by top-working.


Trees of almost any size can be successfully top-worked, except
very large ones, those from one and a half to two feet or more in
diameter which have large spreading tops. However, the most
desirable for top-working are those that are young and thrifty
and not over eight or ten inches in diameter.


1 00.


( .I s~~Y Ai-:iV % i

'K > /



Fig. 57.-1. A dormant two-year-old top-worked pecan tree; 2. showing the point of union in a top-worked tree;
8. a well-developed top grown in two years on a seven-year-old trunk.

Bulletin 170, Top-Working Pecan Trees

Pecan trees that are to be top-worked should be
ing the dormant season, as there is little danger

cut back dur-
of injury by

Fig. 58.-The tree on left is to be top-worked; on right, pruned back for
severe pruning at this time. It is not best to prune a tree to a
straight stick when it is more than four inches in diameter. At
that time it is hardly possible to cut it back and leave it with

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

sufficient foliage to carry on the plant processes, since the new
top has not become established and large enough to take care of
all the food requirements of the tree. However, in the case of
smaller trees, it is not necessary to leave some branches uncut,
for new shoots will force out and growth will continue almost
uninterrupted if not interfered with by some serious set-back.
Larger trees should be cut back by removing the branches in
such a way that the general form of the top will be renewed when
new growth comes out. The operator should examine carefully
the tree to be worked and decide which branches to prune out. The
ones selected should not be more than from four to six inches in
diameter, as wounds of larger ones will not heal readily. Two or
more branches should be left near the bot-
tom and the center of the top. These are
left so that a sufficient leaf surface will
:^ L be assured while the new top is developing.
In making a cut, care should be exercised
that the branch does not split. If the cut
S is made as shown in figure 59, by sawing
the under side first, no splitting will take
place. Saw off the end of the stub at the
desired point. Limbs should be cut off
just above a smaller one, as the new tissue
will grow over the wound more. readily.
Fig. 59.-Illustration to All cut surfaces should be smoothed and
show method of cutting
large branches to pre- painted, or covered with some water-proof-
vent splitting: 1. first ing material.
cut; 2. second cut; s.
stub. After growth has started in spring and:
the new shoots have come out, a good policy is to thin to a few
strong ones. Then these will receive all the plant food and become
strong and vigorous, and will be extra good for budding the fol-
lowing summer. For best results one shoot should be left for:
each inch in diameter of the stock. For example, if the branch
is two inches in diameter where cut off, leave two shoots; if three
inches, leave three, etc. A six-inch stub would have six shoots
The working tools of the top-worker are ladder, saw, rope or
chain, and grafting and budding knives. An apron with several
pockets for holding patches, strings, knives, etc. is very useful.

Bulletin 170, Top-Working Pecan Trees


Hickories can be successfully top-worked to pecans. This is done
by the same methods employed in top-working pecans. The
Mockernut (Hickoria alba) is the type that has been top-worked
generally in Florida. The pecan top makes a more rapid growth
than the hickory, and as a result the body of the pecan in-
creases in diameter faster than that of the hickory. Therefore,
in the case of large trees the pecan trunk will be larger than
that of the hickory and there will be a decided offset at the point
of union.
The only advantage gained in top-working the hickory is to
utilize something that has heretofore been worthless for bearing
fruit. Then again, it increases the territory of the
pecan, as the hickory is often found where the pe-
can does not grow. But often the hickory is in
such out of the way places that it cannot be at-
tended to as it should. Therefore, it frequently
does not prove as profitable as the grower had ex-
pected. Hickories that have been top-worked
should be cared for-cultivated, fertilized, spray-
ed, etc.-the same as pecan trees.

of pecan
While there are many different ways of top- (upper) with
hickory. Note
working pecans, owing to the modified forms of difference in
propagation used by different growers, all these sizes.
methods can be grouped together under the two main heads of
grafting and budding. Of the two, budding is practiced most.
These methods will be discussed separately.


Top-working pecans by grafting was the first method employed,
but it has given way largely to budding. However, there are some
good points in its favor, and some propagators use it because there
is a year's growth gained, as the scions force out with the new
shoots in the spring after they are inserted. It permits the use of
wood for scions that could not be used for budding. Then again,
if the work is a failure, the new shoots may be allowed to grow
and buds inserted the following summer when conditions are
right. One of the disadvantages is that the new top grows so

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

rapidly that, having such a slight hold on the tree at first, it breaks
off rather easily. This may be overcome, however, by securely
tying thegrowing scions to the tree or to stakes.
All of the different grafts may be used, but the cleft graft
probably is the one most extensively employed. Others are bark,
side and whip. The whip is not used to any great extent in top-
working. The details of the different methods of grafting are
found discussed un-
der the proper head-
There is practi-
cally no difference
in the preparation
of the tree for
a grafting and for
Sc budding. A few
branches must be
left, as previously
explained, or the
shock will be too
great for the tree.
The branches re-
moved should not
be more than three
Fig. 61.-Cleft grafting: a. scion; b. stock split inches in diameter,
and scions inserted; c. scions tied and waxed, except in the cases
of the bark and side grafts. In these instances large limbs and
even the trunks of trees may be worked. However, the latter
method should be employed only in the case of trees up to five or
six inches in diameter.
In cleft grafting the scions are inserted during February, while
bark and side grafts are inserted in spring after the bark begins
to slip.
The several methods of grafting successfully employed in top-
working the pecan are described below. The propagator should
exercise the greatest care to see that the work is done carefully
and correctly.
Cleft Grafting is a method especially adapted to working the
branches of the pecan where the diameter at the cut is less than
three inches. February is the time to do this work. As the name
indicates, the operation consists in sawing off the branch to be

Bulletin 170, Top-Working Pecan Trees

grafted and ,splitting the stock with a heavy knife and maul.
The larger stocks are of sufficient size to take two scions, one on
each side.
The scion that contains three or four buds is cut wedge-shaped
to fit the cleft. One should be sure that the outside edge of the
wedge is slightly thicker
than the inside. This in-
sures the perfect fitting of
the cambium layers of both
stock and scion when placed
together. Insert the
scion to one side,
being careful that
the cambium of the
scion matches that
of the stock. (This
is accomplished, if
the inner barks of
stock and scion
match.) It is advis- Fig. 62.-Knife for cleft grafting.
able to tie in the scions with heavy cord, otherwise there may be
a gapping open, which will prevent contact of the growing parts.
Cover over the entire surface with grafting wax.
Bark Grafting is practiced when the sap is rising and when
the bark begins to slip, and may be continued as long as the scions
can be kept dormant. Larger trees may be worked by this
method than by cleft grafting, but it is best to use branches six
inches or less in diameter. With smaller trees the entire top may
be removed and the scion inserted in the trunk.
The operation is performed as follows: Saw off the branch
at the desired place. Slit the bark and open it slightly at the top
and insert the scion. The scion, containing three or four buds
and about the size of a lead pehciliis prepared by making a long
sloping cut from three-fourths of an inch to an inch in length.
This is forced into the opening between the bark and wood, tied
securely and waxed over completely.
Side Grafting.-The steps in 'side grafting are similar to
those of bark grafting, and it is done during the same season.
The main difference is that the scion is placed- on the side
of the stock rather than at the place where the branch or top

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

has been removed. The greatest advantage is the fact that there
is a strong stub to which the new growth may be tied. This se-
cures it against wind and other damaging agencies.
The work is done by cutting a notch in the stock, inserting
the scion between bark and wood, and tying and waxing as
previously described. The scion is prepared in exactly the same
manner as in bark grafting.


Fig. 63.-Bark grafting: a. scion; b. stock split and scions inserted; c. scions
tied and waxed.
Whip Grafting, sometimes called tongue grafting, is not
used to any extent in top-working. On the other hand, it is used
extensively in nursery propagation of the pecan. The scion is
cut with a long slope from three-fourths of an inch to an inch in
length, and one-third the distance from the sharp end it is split

Bulletin 170, Top-Working Pecan Trees

to receive the tongue of the stock, which is prepared in the same
manner. In fitting them together, it is necessary that the

Fig. 64.-Side grafting: a. scion; b. stock with scion inserted; c. scion tied
and waxed.
cambium layers of the stock and scion fit at one side. Tie secure-
ly and wax completely.
Budding is the most common method of top-working large
pecan trees. By means of the different systems it is possible

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

to do work thruout the growing season, so long as the condition
of the stock is right. While many methods of budding may be
pmnploved. the chin.

a b
4 1 '

ring and patch are
used most extensive-
ly and most success-
Small trees under
five inches in diam-
eter may be worked
without cutting back
by inserting the bud
in the smaller bran-
ches, or by using a
modified form of the
patch bud on the
main body as de-
scribed elsewhere in
this bulletin.

SIn all forms of bud-
ding it is advisable
to place the bud as
near the base of the
shoot or branch as
possible. The trans-
fer of the bud must
Fig. 65.-Whip grafting: a. stock and scion cut; be made quickly and
b. stock and scion fitted together; c. wrapping accurately. To do
with waxed cloth finishes the operation. successful budding,
successful budding,
it is absolutely necessary that a sharp knife be used. When pos-
sible cover the bud and tying material with paraffin wax.
Chip Budding is practiced in late winter before the bark
begins to slip, and it is used very successfully on trees that are
not large enough to cut off preparatory to ring budding.
Branches as large as one and a half inches in diameter may be
worked. This method gets its name from the way the stock and
bud are prepared.
A chip from an inch to an inch and a half in length is removed
from the stock at the proper place. The cut is made downward
and to the center of the stock, sufficiently deep to pass well thru

Bulletin 170, Top-Working Pecan Trees

the cambium layer, giving a chip. from about an eighth to a
fourth of an inch in thickness at the lower end. The lower cut
is made slightly downward, which removes the chip, leaving a

Fig. 66.-Things needed in budding: a. ordinary budding knife; b. special
patch-budding knife; c. a bunch of waxed patches; d. a single waxed
patch; e. homemade knife to be used in either ring or patch budding.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

place for the insertion of the bud. The bud is cut in a similar
manner, and in such a way as to fit as neatly and as perfectly as
possible the place prepared for it on the stock. The chip contain-
ing the bud and all cut surface is covered completely with a
waxed patch, in the center of which is a small hole just large


Fig. 67.-Chip budding: a. stock cut ready to receive the bud; b. bud cut
ready to be inserted; c. stock with bud in place; d. bud tied with waxed
cloth and raffia.
enough to permit the passage of the bud. The entire patch and
chip is tied securely with common cotton wrapping cord and
/ Ring Budding.-This was once one of the most successful
methods of propagating the pecan, but it has given way largely
to the patch, bud. It can be done any time during the growing
season when there is sufficient sap. to permit the bark to slip
freely from the wood.
This method consists in the removal of a ring of bark from the
smooth part of the stock, one and a fourth inches long, with a
dou'ble-bladed knife made especially for the purpose. A ring of
bark containing the bud, cut with the same knife so as to be the
same length, is taken from the bud stick the size of the shoot and
is placed where the bark was removed from the stock. The bud
is held firmly in place by being wrapped completely with waxed
cloth. All cuts must be covered, and the bud must be held

Bulletin 170, Top-Working Pecan Trees

securely in place. The tying is important and must be done
properly, as carelessness in this operation is often the cause of
failure. A good practice is to cover completely the bud and tying
material with paraf-
fin wax.
Patch Budding is
a modified form of
ring budding, both of
which are done at the
same season. The de-
tails are identical, ex-
cept that the bark
is not cut completely
around the stock. A
strip of bark is left
back of the bud.
This stri connects Fig. 68.-Ring budding: a. bud; b. stock pre-
Spared for the bud; c. bud inserted and tied
the bark above and in place with waxed cloth.
below the cut places, thus insuring the passage of the sap to the
upper parts of the shoot until the new bark heals sufficiently. By
this method bud sticks smaller than the shoots can be utilized.
In patch budding, as in ring budding, one should work
rapidly so that the cambium layers will not be exposed longer
than is absolutely necessary, as the tissues will dry out and
not unite. After the bud is in place
wrap it as described in ring budding.
It may be covered with a waxed patch
and tied tightly with common cotton
wrapping cord or raffia.
Budding Large Branches.-It was
formerly thought that only small shoots
half an inch or less in diameter could be
S budded successfully. It is known now
that by following the directions given
below, a patch bud can be successfully
put on the body or branches of a tree
six, eight, or ten inches in diameter.
With a drawing knife shave off the
rough, corky part of the bark until it is
as thin as desired, being careful not to
Fig. 69.-Shoot growing
from a ring bud. cut thru the growing cells. The patch

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

bud is placed in its prepared place, tied and waxed the same as on
smaller stocks.
Shield or "T" Budding.-The shield bud is not used exten-
sively in the propagation of the pecan, because it does not give
satisfactory results. There are some modified
forms that may be used successfully, if the work
is done carefully. Make a "T"-shaped cut in the
stock and cut out a bud the shape of a shield,
retaining only the bark on which the bud grows.
Instead of leaving the flaps of bark to extend up
and over the sides of the bud, they should be
trimmed off to fit down snugly. Cover entirely
with a waxed patch and tie securely with a cotton
cord or with raffia.
Fig. 70.-R i n g
cut back, shoot
growing. The selection of budding and grafting wood is
important. It is easy enough to cut just any kind of wood, but
when it comes to selecting that which will unite with the stock
and grow most successfully and give the best results, consider-
able attention and study are necessary.
Grafting Wood.-If possible, select mature plump one-year
wood for scions. However, a shortage may be overcome by select-
ing older and rougher wood, which may be used with a fair de-


Fig. 71.-Patch budding: a. stock prepared for the bud; b. bud cut ready
to be placed; c. bud in place and wrapped with waxed cloth; d. bud
tied with waxed patch and raffia; e. bud tied with waxed patch and
common cotton wrapping cord.

Bulletin 170, Top-Wroking Pecan Trees

gree of success. Grafting wood should be cut during the dormant
season, tied in small bunches and placed in cold storage, or buried
in a cool, well-drained place 12 inches below the surface of the
earth. Such a location on the shady side of a building is an ex-
cellent place in which to bed grafting wood. Take from storage
only enough wood for the work of one day, unless it is possible



Fig. 72.-Grafting scions: 1, 3 and 5 are poor ones; 2 and 6 are good ones;
4, 7 and 8 could be used if needed.
to keep that taken out thoroly dormant, in which case a larger
supply may be removed.
Budding Wood.-Well-matured, one or two-year-old shoots
should be selected from which to cut buds, if to be used for early
spring work. However, the one-year-old is preferred. These
shoots must be cut while dormant and put in cold storage, or they
may be buried as described previously, if they are to be left only
a short time.
Sticks for chip budding should be removed from storage as
they are used. Those for ring and patch budding should be taken
out three or four days prior to being used, as the higher tempera-
ture at this later season causes the sap to become sufficiently







Florida Agricalfa al E.'ipi rimen i Station

active to permit the removal of the buds, the same as with bud
sticks cut fre f rhfrom the tree. It is important that bud sticks
be kept packed in moisttre-holding material after removal from
storage until used..
Pecan buds have been kept,in cold storage in a dormant condi-
tion until June and then used successfully inpatch budding. But
those to be used during June, July, August and September will
give better results, if cut fresh from trees as needed. Some pro-
pagators clip the leaves from, the stick two or three weeks prior
to uiing. This causes the leaf stems to drop off and gives the
old scars an opportunity to heal before the stick is cut and the
bud put in. Others clip off the leaves as the sticks are cut and
use the buds immediately. Either way of handling the buds
will give good results, if the material is properly selected and the
work done carefully.
Wood for ring and patch budding should be selected carefully.
Only that which is, well-matured, is of the current season's
growth and has good strong buds, should be cut for this purpose.
Two-year-old wood can be used successfully, if it is in good con-
dition. The sticks should be from a fourth to half an inch in
These sticks should be kept in moss or some other good moist-
ure-holding material until used. Otherwise they will dry out to
such an extent that the bark about the bud will not unite with
that of the stock. Keeping bud wood fresh and in good condition
is one of the determining factors in successful blulding. When
the bud wood is secured some distance from the field of opera-
tion, it is, of course, necessary to cut a supply sufficient to last
several days. Where such is the case, the buds should be kept
in cold storage or wrapped in moisture-holding material and kept
in a cool place.
It is necessary that the new top be cared for properly, if suc-
cess is to be had. Many sprouts or tender shoots will come out
on the tree, and it is necessary that these be held in check so that
the new graft or bud may make the most satisfactory growth.
Also the staking and tying of the new top must be looked after, or
results may be disappointing.
Care of Growing Grafts.-Scions that take, grow so rapidly
it is necessary to tie them to stakes to keep them from breaking,
off. A good method of staking is to fasten the stake to the body

Bulletin 170, Top-Working Pecan Trees

of the tree and'securely tie the new growth to it' If the graft is
low, it is well to drive the stake into the ground near the tree and'
fasten the new shoot to it. An excellent way'to tie shoots grow-
ing from a side graft is to leave the stock above the union until
the tissues have united completely and the growth has strength-
ened sufficiently to maintain itself, as the stock is an excellent
support for the resulting shoots. The stub can be removed the
following year. _
A shot from a
graft breaks off
slightly easier e
than one from .a
bud, because the
tissues of the \,
former do not .
unite and grow -
around the stock
fast enough and
because it is more
exposed. For this -
reason caution
should be the
watchword in -
working around '
At the end of /
the first year
about a third of
the original
growth should be .
taken off. The sec-
ond year the stock ______
should yield Fig. 73.-A top-workod tree growing a well-formed
another third. At top.
the end of the third year all the growth except that of the new
top should be removed. By this time the union should be com-
plete, the wound entirely healed and the top of sufficient size to
take care of itself.
When the scion is tied in with a heavy cord this cord should be
cut within five or six weeks after growth starts, otherwise the
growth of the stock will cause the cord to tighten about the tree.


Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Care of Growing Buds.-Buds put in during the latter part
of the dormant period or early spring usually start to growing
along with other buds. The wrapping material should be re-
moved after the union is complete, which will be in from four to
six weeks. The stock should be
cut back to some extent, but a
portion should be left to which
the young shoot may be tied for
support. In forcing buds immedi-
ately after they "stick," do not
remove at once all the foliage
above them, but take away about
half of it. Then watch the origi-
nal buds that force out, keeping
them thinned and held in check.
In this way sufficient food will be
forced into the inserted bud to
cause it to force and grow. When
a substantial growth of from six
to ten inches has been made, all
the foliage above and below
should be removed; this throws
Fig. 74.-Buds making excellent everything into the new shoot.
growth the first year; these The stock should not be cut back
particluar shoots developed and
matured 11 nuts the first year. to the bud until the following
spring, as the growing shoot may be tied to it for support. If the
shoots are cut back to the bud, or if they are not of sufficient
strength to hold the new growth, it is advisable to tie them to a
stake or some form of support as outlined under the head of grow-
ing grafts.
Ring buds put on during June, July, August or September should
not be forced, but should be left dormant until the following
spring. At this time the shoots on which these buds have been
inserted should be cut back to the place where the bud will force
out with the other growth to best advantage and where it will
give the desired results during the second year. Some of the
buds will start growing immediately, but the propagator should
not become impatient and try to force all of them.
The bud should "take" and the union should be sufficiently
completed to permit the removal of the wrapping material in
from three to four weeks. Sometimes it takes longer to do this;

Bulletin 170, Top-Working Pecan Trees 185

close attention should be given the buds, and when the ties begin
to bind severely they should be removed at once.


i \

Fig. 75.-Illustration to show where cuts should be made (at the lines)
in pruning a top-worked tree to produce a well-balanced top; this top
is a year old.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Fig. 76.-1. A top-worked tree developing a well-balanced top (note points
of union); 2. branches braced with a bolt; 3. shoots growing from bud
inserted in trunk of tree, top of which has later been cut back to throw
all nourishment into the growing shoots; 4. pecan shoots inarched.

Bulletin 170, Top-Working Pecan Trees

A third of the natural growth should be removed at the end
of the first year, a third the second, and the remaining third
during, the third year. By this time the new top should have
made sufficient progress to carry on the plant processes and
keep the tree in a thrifty, vigorous condition. When this is true
no harm will have resulted from the top-working.
A tree should receive the same care-cultivation, fertilization,
and spraying-after top-working as before.
When will top-worked trees begin to bear? This is one of the
first questions the operator asks. The answer in a general way
is determined by the variety, the care and attention given the
trees, their age and their condition. Instances are on record in
which the new top produced a few nuts the same year that it was
forced out. Quite often it will bear fruit the second year, and
more often the third. Therefore, it can be said that the new top
will begin bearing in from two to five years, and should yield
crops of commercial importance in from six to eight years.

There are several formulas for making grafting waxes and
grafting cloth, but the one most generally used is made up as
Material: 4 pounds of rosin.
2 pounds of bees wax.
1 pound of tallow.
Put all of the materials in a pot and melt, stirring frequently to
insure thoro mixing. When this is completed, cloth, which pre-
viously has been torn into convenient strips, is dipped into the
melted wax, drawn out between two boards, and then hung over
a vessel into which the surplus wax will drip and be removed.
When used, the cloth should be torn into half-inch strips; these
strips are rolled in balls, or cut in proper lengths as desired for
the convenience of the budder. Old sheets or other similar ma-
terial are excellent for making waxed cloth.

The waxed patch previously referred to is made by cutting the
cloth into pieces about an inch wide and one and a half inches
long, after it has been dipped in the wax. Drive a nail thru the

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

center of a bunch of ten or fifteen of these patches. This makes
it possible and convenient for the budder to carry about with him
a bundle of them.

Worthless seedling pecan trees, if top-worked, can be made to produce
annual crops of valuable nuts.
Pecan trees susceptible to pecan scab can be top-worked to varieties re-
sistant to this disease.
Seedling pecan trees top-worked at San Saba, Texas, 40 years ago are
now bearing heavily and are in good condition; and seedlings top-worked at
Orange Heights (Florida) 25 years ago are prolific and still increasing in
Thrifty trees under eight or ten inches in diameter are the most desir-
able for top-working.
Trees are prepared for top-working during the dormant season.
Trees up to four inches in diameter can be cut back to a single stub, but
larger ones must be prepared by removing the branches, leaving a few
limbs to insure leaf surface.
Thin the young shoots that spring out after top-working, leaving one for
each inch in diameter of the branch or stock where cut off.
Hickory trees can be successfully top-worked to pecans, being cared for
in the same manner.
The tools of the top-worker are ladder, saw, rope or chain, and budding
and grafting knives.
An apron with several pockets is useful in holding knife, waxed cloth,
wax patches, string, etc.
Top-working is done by either budding or grafting.
Cleft, bark, and side are the grafting methods most successfully em-
Chip and patch budding are used more than any other methods of bud-
Budding is used more generally in top-working, the patch bud being the
method most extensively employed.
,Work rapidly in transferring the bud.
/ Wrap the bud securely. All air and water must be excluded.
Many failures in budding can be traced directly to improper tying.
Mature, plump, one-year wood is the best for scions and early spring
Select propagating wood while it is dormant and place it in cold storage
or bed in well-drained soil, 12 inches deep.
Matured wood of the current season's growth should be selected for
annular and patch budding.
Keep bud sticks in moss or other moisture-holding material until used.
Growth from grafts and buds should be fastened to stakes to keep them
from breaking off.
After the new top has started to grow remove a third of the original
growth every year until all of it has been cut away.
Do not try to force into growth at once all buds inserted during the
Remove wrapping material when it begins to bind,
Shoots on which buds are placed during the summer must be cut back
the following spring.
Top-worked trees often begin to bear in from two to three years after
the work is done.
Grafting wax is made from rosin, beeswax and tallow.
Waxed patches can be used successfully and are convenient in patch
Top-worked trees will soon repay the cost of the operation.

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs