Here in zone 3, the bark is getting loose on the apple trees and buds are starting to swell, as we had a few days of clement temperature. I started grafting this morning which is very early for me as I usually graft around the time when the apple trees are getting close to blooming (2nd to 3rd week of May), also the time of black flies (sic) which can be quite ferocious around here sometimes.
Anyone who has ever struggle to complete a graft with a cloud of black flies hovering in front as well as in the eyes, will know what I am talking about. You just feel like running away after a while, and too much protective clothing and nets are cumbersome and annoying. For a few years, I have used an old fashion solution, a smokey fire. Since I almost started a grass fire one year through a hole at the bottom of an old enamel container converted into a portable fire pot (supposedly for safety reason), I now use a beekeeper's smoker. Safe, easy to move around, last a while without much attention, and works wonder to keep the multitude at bay.
A friend insists that I am grafting too late (I go by the book) so I decided to spread the effort over a few weeks this time (a few grafts now and then) and maybe keep, not a thorough record, but at least a rough idea through percentage of take.
This morning I realized that there is an added bonus in grafting early... No black flies.
Hélène in Québec
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