Top working an old Conference pear tree – end February 2021

It seemed a good time to use a non productive Conference pear tree to keep some old Turkish pear varieties growing.

I had 3 varieties of Turkish pears, Sheikh Serfettin, Ankara and Tacettin Usta to graft. The below are a few photographs to show the simple stages of top grafting or top working a large diameter pear branch with different varieties. This is exactly the same if top working apples and most other fruit.

The first stage is to cut the large diameter branches off. These branches were about 125mm diameter, and were growing vertical. They were chainsawed off higher up than the final cut. This is stop any tearing of the bark. The final cut being more controlled, by chainsaw or hand saw.

A short piece of scion wood (in this case about 12mm diameter) was use. The end was cut in the same way as when doing the ‘whip’ of a whip and tongue. The sides of the slopping cut were lightly trimmed, to clean the sides up and slightly expose the cambium layer.

The width of scion was transferred to the donor tree. Two vertical slits were made, slightly narrower than the scion. The bark was peeled back exposing the cambium layer, and the scion slid in. It was lightly knocked into the the bottom of the lifted bark.

Another scion was insert, directly opposite. If you wanted a total of 4 or 6 scions could have been used. With the scions in place, it was tightly wrapped with 50mm wide ‘Duct’ tape, but any other tape could be used. Duct tape is very adhesive and also breaks down under the sun after a few months. You have to make this is secure as birds invariably sit on the top of the scions and also to stop wind/gale damage.

Now you have to seal the exposed tree trunk, paying special attention to the cambium layer and scion areas, to prevent drying out.

This shows the sealing compound having been applied all over. It is a very liquid form of black emulsion. This compound was sourced from Spain. Ensure all scions are named, as you will forget over time.
The very tips of the scions were also sealed.

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