>> Introduction to Grafting and Budding

Liberty Hyde Bailey, often called the father of American horticulture, wrote that grafting is the oldest of the propagation arts. Although its origins reach back to antiquity, it is unlikely that deliberate grafting by early man predates the collection and sowing of wild plant seed, which was fundamental to crop domestication and the origin of human agriculture. Perhaps Bailey did not regard seed propagation as an "art," as he did grafting. In any event, grafting, like most other approaches to deliberate plant propagation, with the possible exception of micropropagation (tissue culture), was by no means a novel "invention" by mankind, but rather an adaptation of what our ancestors observed occurring naturally. Go to Natural and Human History of Grafting & Budding.

Graftage (the practice of grafting) is just one of a number of asexual or clonal propagation methods which also include cuttage, layerage, division, micropropagation, and apomixis. At least for species which are relatively easy to propagate by other asexual means, grafting tends to be more expensive than other traditional methods (excluding tissue culture), due to the relatively high level of skill and greater amount of time initially required to perform the operation. Nonetheless, grafting is often justified, economically and otherwise, for a wide range of crops and specific applications, as will be discussed in the section on Reasons for Grafting and Budding. Although we refer to grafting as a clonal method of propagation, most rootstocks are seedlings, which, by definition, are not clonal (unless they are apomictic). Hence, in such cases, only the upper portion (growth from the scion) of the grafted plant is clonal, but not the rootstock. We discuss these apparent paradoxes in the section on Rootstocks.

We recommend that you begin your study of grafting with the section on learning objectives, followed by Concepts and Definitions. The Index will guide you from there. If you decide to proceed as soon as possible to hands-on practice with grafting (laboratory exercises) you should at least review the section on Requirements for Successful Grafting & Budding.

Before you proceed to learn about the how, when and why of the fascinating and agriculturally important topic of grafting, you should familiarize yourself with the course by reading the files in the Course Information section of the Blackboard site. To learn how to access the Web-based information presented in this course most efficiently, read the section on Setting Up Course Utilities to make sure you have an appropriate Web browser, video viewer, and CD-ROM access. Course management (grading, discussions, etc.) will be handled by Blackboard for The How, When, and Why of Grafting (professional course management software).

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Liberty Hyde Bailey