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Dormant Cuttings

Vines for vineyards, with the exception of varieties of Rotundifolia,
are propagated from cuttings of hard wood taken from the season's
canes when the vines are pruned. The inactive buds in these cuttings
may be brought into active growth, and roots induced to grow from the
cut surfaces by various means. By this miracle of Nature, an infinite
number of plants, in an endless procession, may be propagated from the
product of a single seed, each plant complete in its heredity and
differing from its fellows only in accordance with environment.

Time to make cuttings.

A good cutting should have a protective callus over the cut and this
requires time, so that the sooner cuttings are made after the wood
becomes thoroughly dormant the better. Besides, the cutting should use
its stored food material for the formation of adventitious roots
rather than have it pass into buds, as it quickly does late in the
dormant season when buds are about to open. If cuttings must be made
late in the season, transplanting must be delayed as long as possible,
and the cuttings be set in a northerly aspect to prevent the premature
development of the buds. However, the grape responds surprisingly well
to the call of Nature in forming roots, and great importance need not
be attached to the time at which the cuttings are made.

Selecting cutting wood.

Cuttings are made from one-year-old wood; that is, canes produced
during the summer are taken for cuttings in the fall. Immature canes
and those with soft, spongy wood ought not to be used. Strong vigorous
canes should be given preference over weak growth, but most nurserymen
maintain that very large canes do not make as good cuttings as do
those of medium size, the objection to large size being that the
cuttings do not root as well. Short-jointed wood is better than
long-jointed. Cuttings from vines weakened by insects and fungi are
liable to be weak, soft, immature and poorly stored with food. The
wood should be smooth and straight.

Making the cutting.

Grape cuttings vary in length from four inches to two feet, the length
depending on the climate and the soil of the nursery and the species
and variety. The hotter and drier the climate and the lighter the
soil, the longer the cutting needs to be. Six to nine inches, however,
is the usual length in the climate of eastern America, while on the
Pacific slope the length varies from eight to fifteen inches. For
convenience in handling, all cuttings should be approximately of the
same length, to insure which some kind of simple gauge is needed.
Various gauges are used, as marks cut in the working table, a stick of
the required length, or a cutting-box.

In making the cuttings, a slanting cut is made close below the lowest
bud, while about an inch of wood is left above the upper bud. When
possible, a heel of old wood is left at the lower end; or, still
better, a whorl of buds, as roots usually start from each bud. The
finished cuttings are tied in bundles, all butts one way, and are then
ready to be heeled-in. This is done by burying in trenches, butts up,
and covering with a few inches of soil. It is important to invert the
cuttings in trenching, since otherwise the tops often start to grow
before the butts are properly calloused, and it is very essential that
the tops remain dormant until roots appear to support the new growth.

Planting the cuttings.

Cuttings are planted in the nursery in rows wide enough apart for
cultivation and two or three inches apart in the row. Trenches are
made with a plow; perpendicular if the cuttings are shorter, and a
little slanting if longer than six inches. The cuttings are set at a
depth which permits the upper buds to project above the ground, as
shown in Fig. 6. When the cuttings in a row are placed, two inches of
soil are put in and pressed firmly about the base of the cuttings.
Then the trench is evenly filled with earth and the cultivator
follows. Doing duty by the young plants consists in cultivating often
during the summer to keep the soil moist and mellow.

The cuttings are planted as soon as the ground is warm and dry enough
to work. To delay planting too long invites injury from drought, which
almost annually parches the land in eastern America. Irrigation gives
more leeway to planting time in the West. When warm sunny weather,
accompanied by an occasional shower, predominates, the cuttings start
growth almost at once, as shown in Fig. 7, and by fall, all things
being propitious, make a growth from four to six feet. With the
cuttings three inches and the rows three feet apart, 58,080 vines may
be grown to the acre.

Single-eye cuttings.

New and rare varieties are propagated from single-eye cuttings,
thereby doubling the number of plants from the propagating wood. This
method gives an opportunity, also, to start the work of propagating
early in the season, since single-eye cuttings are nearly always
rooted by artificial heat. But the greatest value of the method is
that some varieties which cannot be propagated in any other way
readily grow under artificial heat from single-eyes. Well-grown vines
so propagated are as good as those grown by any other method, but the
great disadvantage is that unless much care and skill are used, vines
from these cuttings are poor and quite worthless. It is also a more
expensive method than growing from long cuttings out of doors.

There are several ways of making single-eye cuttings. The most common
form of the cutting is the single bud with an inch of wood above and
below, the ends being cut with a slant. Some modify this form by
cutting away the wood on the side opposite the bud, exposing the pith
the whole length of the cutting. In another form, a square cut is made
directly under the bud, leaving an inch and a half of wood above. Or
this last form is modified by making a long sloping cut from the bud
to the upper end, thereby exposing the maximum amount of cambium.
Advantages are claimed for each form, but these are mostly imaginary,
and the cutting may be made to suit the fancy of the propagator if a
few essentials are observed.

Single-eye cuttings are made in the fall and are stored in sand until
late winter, about February in New York. At this time the cuttings are
planted horizontally an inch deep in a sand propagating bench in a
cool greenhouse. If the cuttings are not well calloused, they remain
one or two weeks in a temperature of 40 deg. to 50 deg. without bottom heat,
but well-made cuttings are calloused and ready to strike root so that
brisk bottom heat can be applied at once. After six weeks or two
months, the young plants are ready to pot off or to transplant in a
cold-frame or cool greenhouse. If but a few plants are to be grown,
they may be started in two- or three-inch pots, shifting into larger
pots once or twice as growth progresses. In early summer, the young
plants are set in nursery rows out of doors and by fall the young
vines should be strong and vigorous.

Single-eyes are also started in hot-beds, cold-frames and even in the
open air without the aid of artificial heat. In hot-beds and
cold-frames, the method is only a modification of that described for
greenhouses. Out of doors the cuttings are given the same conditions
under which long cuttings are rooted, except that the whole of the
short cutting is buried an inch deep in the nursery row.

Next: Herbaceous Cuttings

Previous: Seedlings

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