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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.