How to Graft Olive Trees
Olive trees are a slow growing plant. Pollination and germination alone can take up to two years in certain cultivars, and the olives produced are not even guaranteed to be edible. To avoid a very long delay in maturation and fruit production and ensure the desired variety of olives grows, young trees are grafted. Grafting is the cultivation practice of placing young budding stems onto established trees to ensure the trees' limbs produce the desired qualities, which, in this case, is olives.
Select scion wood from the desired trees. Optimal scion wood is one to two years old and roughly the diameter of a pencil. Select at least three or four pieces of wood to increase the chances of obtaining a viable bud and avoiding returning for more.
Remove the leaves from the budwood, but leave the buds in place, so that new leaves will grow.
Use the double bladed grafting knife to cut off one of the buds from the wood. Gently slice around the branch and make a single cut to open the ring. Remove the bud patch from the wood and place it on a moist paper towel in a plastic bag to prevent drying out.
Go to the established tree and select area for the new patch to go. Ideally the patch should be placed at least three feet from the ground to ensure ample space for growth.
Use the double bladed grafting knife to cut a patch that is roughly the same size as the created bud patch. Remove the bark from the patch.
Place the new bud patch from the shoot over the hole and cover the entire patch tightly with grafting tape. It is important to use a wax based grafting tape because it breathes, allowing the grafter to cover the entire bud. Wax grafting tape will also stretch and break off as the tree grows, so there is no need to return and remove the tape at a later time. New growth should begin to appear within eight weeks of grafting. If the new shoot seems to have trouble growing, remove any branches from the tree that are below the grafted bud. This will cause the tree to give the new bud more nutrients.
- Scion wood
- Established tree
- Double bladed grafting knife
- Moist paper towel
- Plastic bag
- Wax-based grafting tape