Apple trees can be unpredictable. Factors such as inappropriate soil, insects or mildew in the ground can kill a young tree. To prevent this dilemma, modern farmers fill their orchards with grafted trees using proven rootstocks. Rootstocks are region-specific young trees grown for the purpose of providing a healthy root system to an otherwise incompatible apple tree. Once a rootstock reaches two years of age, its trunk is grafted with a branch from the desired apple variety.
Select a rootstock with a diameter no more than 1/2 inch. Measure the diameter of your rootstock with a tape measure.
Select a young branch from the desired variety of apple, such as Macintosh or Granny Smith. The branch should have a diameter that is identical to your rootstock.
Cut off the top of the rootstock, leaving behind one foot of the trunk. Make the cut diagonally with one single slice. The cut should be roughly 1 1/2 inches long.
Cut the young branch in the same way and place the open side of the branch against the open side of the trunk. Match their different layers as closely as possible. If the branch is smaller than the trunk, match at least one side of the branch’s bark layers with the trunk.
Wrap the graft site tightly with wax-based grafting tape. Waxed-based tape will stretch with the tree as the scar tissues forms and, if necessary, fall off on its own without injuring the tree.
Observe the tree and remove the tape when the young branch begins forming leaves. This means that the graft has taken and the tree healed itself.