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fruit trees from seeds and no pruning?

 
eric firpo
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I posted this a few days ago but didn't quite get an answer, so I'm giving it another shot.

I saved lots of seeds this year to plant an orchard, but are there any stone fruit trees that breed true from seed?

Also, I've heard Paul (and read Holzer and Fukuoka) say that pruning is unnecessary and it's preferable to just let nature take its course with tree growth. But it seems to me that grafting (if the tree will not breed true) is a form of pruning. So, when do you graft when planting from seed? Year one or two or later?

And will the tree need to be pruned after grafting, since the wisdom appears to be that once pruned, a fruit tree must be pruned for life?
 
                            
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Location: Ava, Mo, USA, Earth
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If you only let one bud grow from the graft, and that is what you should do anyhow, it will grow into a single leader. The trouble is, almost all trees from commercial nurseries have had their leaders cut, forcing multiple limbs to try to grow into leaders. I suppose one could trim back to just the best one and hope it grows into a leader, but I don't know. I'm pretty sure Fukuoka-san grew grafted trees, but had them specially grown at the nursery to retain the leader.

No trees have been bred to grow true from seed, but since all apples are hybrids, they are worse than trees that are self-fertile. I think most stone fruit can pollinate themselves, but I'm not sure.
 
John Polk
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For a listing of +/- 5 dozen self fertile apple trees, see here:

http://www.permies.com/t/7503/woodland-care/Self-Fertile-Apples
 
eric firpo
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If it grows a central leader from a single bud, will the tree have to be pruned? Rather not have a 30-foot peach tree! Thanks for your help!
 
Leila Rich
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Peaches/nectarines generally 'come true' from seed, so if you want to avoid grafting you can.
They tend to get pretty big, which is one reason for pruning. Another is is that they and their close relatives fruit on the previous year's wood, so if the tree's not pruned, the fruit is borne further and further out of reach!
There are genetic dwarf fruit trees too.
A lot depends on how much space you have and how keen you are on climbing ladders in the future.
For me, it's "neither" on the above, so I have to manage my trees accordingly, or I couldn't have them at all.
Grafting means I can have three types of plums on one tree and pollinate them, while pruning allows me to fan-train what would like to be a bit of a monster to fit my eeny-weeny space.
So I'm doing basically the opposite of what you're thinking about, partly because I have to, but I also enjoy the challenge!
Unless you've got loads of room, years of patience and don't mind a strong likelyhood of pretty inedible fruit, I'd only bother with grafted apple cultivars.
 
eric firpo
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Thanks. Pruning it is! And apples I've got. The trees are actually going in an apple orchard, Sommerfeld apples, a Fuji-Gala cross. I'm ripping out half the rows, replacing them with a mixed orchard - apricots, peaches, plums, nectarines, and a few other fruits, and putting in hugelbeds for veggies. Probably will take out some of the apple trees in the rows I leave alone since they're too close together. Also graft more varieties of apples on the trees that remain. All my farming will finally be in one spot, converted to permaculture. Will grow wheat among cover crops as well. I'll post photos or video or both of how it goes.
 
Jordan Lowery
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its depends on your situation, i don't prune any of my trees and reap the rewards of high yields of quality fruit. some of them are started from seed. others grafted onto rootstock. the central leader is always left. if i was in a small backyard and wanted 10 trees instead of 2 i would prune.

of the stone fruits i have started from seed, a good number of them are eatable, some of them are really good. and a few are eatable but better for animal fodder( one tree can produce a LOT of free feed) so i leave those too.
 
eric firpo
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Thanks Hubert. How tall are your unpruned stone fruit trees?
 
Fred Morgan
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I think one way to look at it is this, anyone can grow a tree. It takes effort to grow lumber or fruit. Now, with permaculture, less effort to be sure, but from what I have learned in permaculture (and growing lots of trees) is most of the effort is in the first few years, after that, you are set for life of the tree, for good or bad.

If you have lots of room and little time, do whatever and don't worry about it. But, if you have little space, you might want to think about more control, in order to get what you want the first time. But if you don't mind planting some for the birds, some to use for fodder for animals, etc and be happy with a smaller percentage that might be edible for you, go for it, who knows what you might end up with.

 
Jordan Lowery
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at my old place they usually topped out around 20 ft. usually more wide than tall actually. its the cherries from seed that get real real real big, like 60+ft. persimmon from seed get real big too. apples get pretty big 30ft-ish. ive started almonds from seed but never got to see them mature.
 
eric firpo
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Thanks guys. I'd jump for joy if I could get an unpruned stone fruit tree from seed that's 20 feet tall and wide! That means lots of low branches, and tons of fruit even if some is unreachable!
 
Jordan Lowery
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i will say that sometimes they need a little staking early on if you want it to grow up. otherwise some of them just grow outwards.
 
Jason Matthew
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As someone else mentioned, most of your stone fruit will come true from seed. They say that apples and other fruit trees will revert to crab or wilder cousins. I have to wonder though, we picked up about 30 pounds of apples from a commercial orchard this fall, and if the apples are all crossed with quality varieties rather than crab apples, it seems likely that the apple seeds should likewise give us a good quality apple tree. I've got over 36 seeds in the ground, and I hope I am correct in my thinking.

 
Jordan Lowery
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imo it depends on how picky you are, or how good you are at finding uses for things(apples)
 
Leila Rich
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da wanderer, I don't think it's that easy! As I understand it, each apple seed has thousands of potential genetic mutations and the resulting fruit may well bear no resemblance to it's parents.
That's not to say a fantastic apple won't show up: as far as I know, all the known apple varieties were originally random pippins cloned forever after, but the 'hit rate's' less than great...
 
Jason Matthew
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I've read that as well, but given good parent stock, I have a hard time believing that we will get a lot of lemons. I know a lot of apples are pollinated with crab apples because the pollen is the most fertile, but the orchard where we got these apples had rows of 42 different varieties. If all else fails, I can graft from my existing trees.

 
Pavel Novy
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Peaches are a good choice for growing from seeds. They do not come true, but most trees still produce high quality fruit. They also start bearing very soon usually 3-5 years, unlike most other fruit trees that may need up to decades to form first fruit. You will get a full sized (15-30ft) tree however, dwarf trees are made by grafting the variety onto a dwarfing rootstock.
 
Alison Thomas
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That's interesting about the peach trees as my older ones look decidedly sad this year. Maybe we'll eat the yummy fruit, plant the stones and say goodbye to the old trees once the 'babies' are up and running. Any idea just how many years Pavel?

Pavel, welcome to permies BTW
 
L. Jones
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Location: NW Mass Zone 4 (5 for optomists)
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Jason Matthew wrote:I've read that as well, but given good parent stock, I have a hard time believing that we will get a lot of lemons. I know a lot of apples are pollinated with crab apples because the pollen is the most fertile, but the orchard where we got these apples had rows of 42 different varieties. If all else fails, I can graft from my existing trees.


I think the stock number (and this is not for random crosses - as far as I know it's deliberate crosses of "good apples") is 20,000-30,000 seedling apples to one decent eating cultivar. Which is not to say that stock won't eat them, and they can be fermented into cider (though there are also specific cider cultivars for hard cider, more prevalent in the UK but getting a small resurgence in the US.) It's far better odds than the lottery, but if you have limited space and time, cloning a known-good variety is a good thing. Sounds like you have a workable plan - try them, and graft if you don't like them. There are hundreds if not thousands of good varieties (though only a few are currently commercially popular), so check around for scion stock and add varieties to your orchard rather than more of what you have (unless you really want more of what you have, of course.)

When doing livestock paddocks and fencerows/hedges/feed trees between or in them, seedlings are great - and you just might get that one in 30,000. Many cultivars were started exactly that way. Someone "discovered" the initial tree and a variety was born.
 
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