A common topic that crops up (no pun intended) amongst farmers is grafting – or better known in Maltese as tilqim. When is it best to graft? What can be grafted on to what? Has the union been successful? These are questions that commonly arise. Some of the answers are quite logical and such information is usually shared between farmers. This sharing of knowledge leads to furthering the expertise on how to propagate trees in order to adapt to local conditions.
Several species are grafted to produce plants of desired varieties. Amongst these, we commonly find fruit trees, such as stone fruits (frott tal-għadma) and citrus (ċitru). The process is a delicate one. It involves a technique where different plant parts, coming from two separate plants having different characteristics, are manually united. It sounds simple but success is determined by a number of factors, including; compatibility of the scion and rootstock, cambium alignment, sanitation, and obviously, ability of the grafter.
Different types of grafting exist depending on the species, age of the tree, and preference of the person making the graft. It is fascinating how one single tree can bear different fruits once it has been grafted using scions from trees having different characteristics. For example, a tree can produce peaches of different varieties on different branches. Locally, peaches are generally grafted upon almond rootstock since they are mostly adapted to Maltese soils.
Some time ago, I was lecturing a unit at MCAST about plant propagation and discussed this very interesting project with my students. This project, not only involved long term planning through grafting, but also included an element of art and creativity. I am sharing this video to continue spreading the knowledge of how agriculture can beautify our surroundings apart from providing nutritious and delicious food.
Now, for the actual ‘Grafting Challenge’… Wouldn’t it be awesome, if someone takes up this challenge locally and creates such an attraction; a masterpiece accessible by anyone on this island, a symbol of unity, diversity and science?
A History of Grafting (PDF Download)