T-budding or chip budding are the most commonly used methods of apple tree propagation. The best time for T-budding depends on the maturity of the buds to be transferred and on the ease with which the bark “slips” or peels on the stock being budded. In a normal season, T-budding is possible from June to September. Chip budding can be used when the bark is not slipping, for example, in early spring before growth begins or during early summer when active growth ceases due to drought or other causes.
For early season budding (either T- or chip budding), mature, dormant buds must be used. This scion wood must be cut before buds begin growth and stored under refrigeration. After the buds have united with the stock, the top of the stock is pruned off just above the inserted buds. The bud then grows and produces a tree ready for planting the following spring.
Budwood: Current season shoots of the desired cultivar provide the only source of budwood. When collected these shoots are referred to as budsticks. Vigorous shoots, pencil thickness, that have formed terminal buds will have suitable mature lateral buds. After the shoots are removed from the tree, the leaf blades are clipped off, leaving a short piece of the petiole attached to the shoot. The budsticks are wrapped in moist paper toweling for immediate use, or they may be stored under refrigeration until time for budding.
Diane Doud Miller, Ohio State University