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growing apples from seeds vs. cloning

 
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No, I don't think they did that in the windblown study, which I also discounted since it would stand to reason that any trees blown over would be selected for "no taproot" by the wind. But Kolesnikov dug them out, and recently some work has been done using ground penetrating radar ( https://academic.oup.com/treephys/article/19/2/125/1651017 ):

A ground-penetrating radar (GPR) technique was used to study the three-dimensional distribution of root systems of large (DBH = 14 to 35 cm) oak trees (Quercus petraea (Mattusch.) Liebl.) in relatively dry, luvisoil on loamy deluvium and weathered granodiorite. Coarse root density was 6.5 m m−2 of stand area and 3.3 m m−3 of soil volume. Maximum rooting depth of the experimental oaks was 2 m, and the root ground plan was significantly larger (about 1.5 times) than the crown ground plan."



Oaks are supposed to be a taprooted species, but if there were any on these, they only penetrated two meters or less.

Root Distribution of Some Native Trees and Understory Plants Growing on Three Sites Within Ponderosa Pine Watersheds in Colorado
( https://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_exp_forests/manitou/rmrs_1958_berndt_h001.pdf ) includes root diagrams from trees in the field. Prominent taproots are absent except in one case, where its depth couldn't be determined because it penetrated a crevice.

I've dug out my share of stumps by hand and never had to deal with any big taproots. It may be that trees shed them as they get larger so they have enough play to shift with the wind instead of just breaking off like they would if the trunk continued straight down. What's good for a small tree may not be good for a big one.

No doubt some trees have strong taproots, but they don't appear to be preferable or even necessary. As for the utility of planting fruit trees from seed, it's a most worthwhile endeavor and if the fruit does happen to turn out nasty, those trees can easily be topworked with something more desirable (or the fruit could be fed to hogs, or turned into hooch and/or vinegar!).
 
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This all thread started with the real question "Seed in place vs. transplant"! + "cloning by grafting vs. cuttings"

These real good question and ideas are not matched by the title.... (I am frequently upset by the choice of words in communication, and this is the case for the title imo here)

Grafting is done on a SEEDLING anyway. Grafting is cloning, but cuttings are the most typical way of cloning that cannot result in a tap root.

paul wheaton wrote:My understanding is that the taproot is really sensitive. If you transplant a tree, it no longer does the taproot thing.



I have planted 2 apple trees, 7 and 3-4 years ago.... and if i ask you which, you will give the wrong answer unless you guess I asked to catch you!

I just planted from the pot the still miserable 7y+ apple tree.... and i almost killed the "now nice one" when i planted it. When I saw the roots in the pot, I put the ball in water and then unfold everything and planted by forcing the roots downwards. I thought it was going to die, but then there was an explosion of life. I don't know if it has a tap root, but obviously it could thrive.

Would the problem with pots be more than about tap root? Maybe it is about the sap not having to pass a siphon! Maybe I have enough imagination to put myself in the shoes roots of a plant.... or am I projecting? :)
 
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Supposing you have an orchard, or planning one. And you want to add to your nursery from seed from your orchards trees. Wouldn't it be great to cut down on the time it takes to get your first fruit from the seedlings you grow. If in your orchard you plant some trees that are known to be precocious then their offspring will also be precocious. Look at the image below as evidence of what I say. That image is from a study a 100 years or so ago called A study of the results of Crossing Varieties of Apples by Clarence C. Vincent for UMass.

It becomes obvious looking at that image that you can produce fruit faster growing apples from seed than from seedlings that you have to pay for. This is probably exaggerated because the apples shown in the image are examples where both parents are precocious. The important point to get from the study is that precociousness is an inheritable trait.

So what apples are precocious, here's a list:

 Ben Davis  

 Empire

 Cortland

 Cox's Orange Pippin

 Esopus

 Golden Delicious

 Grimes Golden, same apple as Golden Delicious??

 Jonathan

 Mann

 Redfield

 Wagener

 Wickson

 Yellow Delicious (Everfresh)

 Zestar


So my suggestion is that you plant a precocious apple thru out your orchard. But how do you know which seeds will have the trait. Well I'd guess that if you harvested seed from the precocious tree that they will have that attribute. And I'd also say that if your precocious tree was also a delicious apple you'd get some very good,early bearing apples.  Let's say you have a Cox's Orange Pippin in your nursery. Some say this is the best tasting apple there is, and it's an early bearer. If you plant seed from apples from that tree I'd guess you're going to get better apples from a cross between a cider apple and that crab apple next door.
AgeOfFruitingGRAPH..jpg
[Thumbnail for AgeOfFruitingGRAPH..jpg]
 
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This debate reminds me of people’s misconceptions about the Back to Eden gardening method, where the key element of chickens processing the woodchips first is often forgotten. I think from his proclamations of membership in the church of Sepp Holzer (praise be!) that Mr Wheaton is basing his assertions about planting apples from seed come from the venerable Austrian master. I understand his method to be using mash/must from cider, brandy or other mass processing of fruit as your seed source. By planting the leftover pile of partially fermented seeds and fruit leftovers, you get thousands of seeds to start with in their ideal starting medium (rotting fruit). Put this in your intended orchard location and let it go STUN style and self select for suitable genetics for that location. What you end up with are trees you can selectively thin for heartiness or other characteristics, and if you don’t like their fruit you can graft on desirable varietals of scion.
 
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I don't know.  I have had poor luck with apple trees until this year.  The Heirloom varieties that I planted suffer every year.    I finally planted a bunch of liberty apples and their pollinators and they did really well with almost no illness or rust on the leaves.  Cornell built or bread the Liberty apple crossbreeding Kazakhstan

trees.  So now that I have bare root trees anywhere from 6 months to five years old I'm going in hard on the seeds.  I'm not really pleased with store bought anything unless it comes from a Permy and it's a good stock.  Everything I have planted from good seed is exponentially more vibrant.  I'm not sure on the Asparagus yet,

we will see if it makes it through the winter.

 I did a bed last week and put about 200 seeds from a pear tree that has to be at least 100 years old.  We will see how they do or if the birds will get them.  I'm excited to say that I received my Kazakhstan seeds from Cornell.  I can't wait

to plant them.  I've been reading about the Kazakhstan forest for so long I can't tell you how happy I was to get my seeds.  I'm as happy as a pig in doo-doo.










 
John Indaburgh
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If my point is correct then we could examine the parents of an apple on the list for the trait, and we can look at the offspring of a listed variety to see if the attribute carries to its siblings.
 
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Scott Foster wrote:  I'm excited to say that I received my Kazakhstan seeds from Cornell.  I can't wait

to plant them.  I've been reading about the Kazakhstan forest for so long I can't tell you how happy I was to get my seeds.



That is so cool, I didn't know it was possible to get those seeds! Seems like a great way to introduce more genetic variety and resistance in apple trees!
 
Scott Foster
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Steve Thorn wrote:

Scott Foster wrote:  I'm excited to say that I received my Kazakhstan seeds from Cornell.  I can't wait

to plant them.  I've been reading about the Kazakhstan forest for so long I can't tell you how happy I was to get my seeds.



That is so cool, I didn't know it was possible to get those seeds! Seems like a great way to introduce more genetic variety and resistance in apple trees!



Yes, it's super cool.  I was under the impression that I could get the seeds that were actually collected in Kazakhstan but the seeds you actually get are from the trees that have been bread from the seeds.  I'm not sure if that makes sense.   I'm super excited to try these.   It's like a grand-gardening adventure.



 
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I'm teaching the kids about apples and growing their seeds this year.  We've got 3 that we've started from seed that are coming up right now.  It's really awesome to share this experience with them.
 
Steve Thorn
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Jonathan Ward wrote:I'm teaching the kids about apples and growing their seeds this year.  We've got 3 that we've started from seed that are coming up right now.  It's really awesome to share this experience with them.



That's awesome Jonathan! They'll probably look back on this with very fond memories when they're older.

I had someone who planted seeds with me when I was little, and it was the spark that began my love for growing things!
 
Steve Thorn
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I have an apple tree that I started from seed from a grocery store Red Delicious apple I think, 15 years ago that I'm going to hopefully root a cutting from this year and plant at my current home. It is currently growing where I used to live, and I still have access to the property.

It was the lone survivor eventually out of about 15 trees, mainly due to my negligence, but compared to the other ones it did amazing!

This poor tree survived being planted in very poor soil (almost pure sand), getting stepped on by neighborhood dogs twice when it was extremely young which broke it off to ground level each time, and also being transplanted to a location where it gets only an hour of direct sunlight each day.

It has survived our humidity and being in the shade like a champ, with no disease issues whatsoever, and has grown to over six feet tall even in these horrible growing conditions.

I'm going to hopefully get my first apples from my own trees this year, and I'm excited to plant those seeds since I know the parents produce good apples and do well in my climate. Hopefully the offspring will take after them a little bit and do even better!

I'm not counting on my old apple tree to produce great fruit, but it would be a great surprise if it did! I think it will really grow quickly once I plant it in a much better spot, and i think it could provide some good genetics for future generations for disease resistance and vigorous growth!
 
Jonathan Ward
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That is an awesome story.  We are looking at living at this place for at least another 18yrs so I'm trying to put some things in the ground that potentially my grandkids could use.  If I never saw one apple, cherry, mulberry, or nut  but knew my kids and grandkids could it would be all I could ask for.
 
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paul wheaton wrote:Something I would like to explore a lot more is the idea of growing apples from seeds.

My understanding is that if your grow an apple from seed, it will have a tap root.  Any other way and it won't have a tap root.

And ....  if you grow an apple from seed, the apples might be great or they might be lousy.  But even if the apples are lousy, I suppose you could graft good apple varieties on to the tree.

Anybody have experience in this space and can tell us about what to be careful of?  Are there some seeds that might be better than others?



As I understand it, the rootstock is selected for adaption to the local growing conditions and for its hardiness. The grafts are selected for their eating and/or cooking qualities. I would think that any seedling that is started in a tall-pot system would form a tap root.
 
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apples are incredibly easy to grow from seed. A bag of sand mixed with seeds in the fridge and a few months BAM! youve got apples. Some might say you will only get a good apple every 1000 trees or soo. I think this is all in how you look at it. Apple trees have incredible ecological value amazing wood and are useful in soo many ways ie processing into jam, jelly, apple butter, cider, preserves, drying, sauce ,desserts, juice and just eating. They are home to many a insect and provide shade and food for deer birds racoons possums and people alike. My suggestion is find one you like, grow some out and guerrilla plant them anywhere ...they will most likely share qualities of there parents and may be sweet or have incredible disease resistance ..the possibilities with apple is endless. I grow several out every year and plant them around my neighbourhood ..this year im growing kazahkstan apples from the cornell university seed bank. try it out!
 
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Hi,  

  A bear just ripped a limb off my favorite plum tree the other day. Yes it was my own fault for not harvesting it fully at least a little earlier. But now with damage done I wonder if I can graft that nicely producing branch back on?  Can I make cuttings from closer to the ends of branches where most recent growth indicated? Then where the branch was severed how best to patch/protect that open wound? Or, can I graft a scion to that wound, as is? I haven't taken pictures, but can cuz want to tho just another busy time of year.  Much Thanks, OgreNick
 
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I think the taproot issue in such a ubiquitous and highly adaptable tree as apple is highly overrated. Sure, nature has a great diversity that there are trees which my suffer from the taproot being lost, but those are the odd few, IMHO. Apple, 1 of the most widely spread fruit tree, isn't 1 of these, as many others, either.
Nature hasn't devised ways to keep going if the taproot is lost in a .. natural way - hit a rock barrier, or been chewed by critters? I don'think so.  
So what if the taproot is cut? It'd grow new ones and you wouldn't even notice the difference after say 5-10 or so years. Sure if it's not replanted at all and its all roots are intact (not only the tap one) it may do better for a while (at the time of and after replanting), but how the tree performs overall it'd all depend on a plenty of other factors too, especially how vigorous it is to start with, how the tree is maintained, managed and in what kinds of conditions is cared for/or not cared for/. Trees and shrubs are being replanted, grafted and rooted from cuttings and they do just as fine as ones that are not. Sometimes - better, sometimes - worse, but that all'd depend on plenty of other factors.
Nature has plasticity, enormous flexibility, just embrace it and go with it in all the diverse ways you can. Or with what suits you. Claiming one thing/way is better that other without a long list of specifics with Ifs ands and ors wouldn't do it justice a bit.
 
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planting 1 yr old dormant bare root trees most the time thats all there is is a tap root.
has anyone johnny appleseed trees. they are still available
 
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A little mulch for an apple tree growing from seed

 
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I think Apple wood is great for heat for carving for Manny things.... If you have to plant a thousand trees to get a new strain of apple that is ok becuse you have a lot of wood. Just my 2 cents worth.
 
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dont know if it was talked about here (skimmed some posts, long thread) but antonovka apples are one of the very few "heirloom" varieties, as in they are pretty much true to seed. plant an antonovka seed, get an antonovka tree. they are also a very hardy apple and make a good rootstock, large taproot supposedly hardy to zone 1! definitely worth looking into.
 
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C. West wrote:dont know if it was talked about here (skimmed some posts, long thread) but antonovka apples are one of the very few "heirloom" varieties, as in they are pretty much true to seed. plant an antonovka seed, get an antonovka tree. they are also a very hardy apple and make a good rootstock, large taproot supposedly hardy to zone 1! definitely worth looking into.



Could you plant the antonovka seed to gain the taproot and then graft on your desired scion and still keep the taproot?
 
Steve Thorn
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Kaleb Rolly wrote:Could you plant the antonovka seed to gain the taproot and then graft on your desired scion and still keep the taproot?



I haven't done this yet, but I would think that would be correct.

Grafting directly onto an Antonovka or another apple seedling without digging it up should keep its existing root system almost the same I would think, which could help give the newly grafted tree a head start over transplanted trees.
 
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Well, it's been a decade or more since this topic started. One point mentioned many times in the thread was that it would take 10-12 years to get fruit from apple trees started from seed.
Paul Wheaton - did you plant those seeds 10-12 years ago? If so, what came of them?
Inquiring minds want to know.
 
paul wheaton
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Ban Dinh wrote:Well, it's been a decade or more since this topic started. One point mentioned many times in the thread was that it would take 10-12 years to get fruit from apple trees started from seed.
Paul Wheaton - did you plant those seeds 10-12 years ago? If so, what came of them?
Inquiring minds want to know.



I bought land six years ago.   I have pitched a few apple cores here and there.   And pulled out some seeds and planted them properly.   And others have too.   I shared a video a couple of years ago:



We've been focusing on infrastructure - with food systems being done just a little here and there.   This year will be the year of food systems.
 
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Hi all,

much of the discussion here seems to go around the taproot,
but some very interesting reasearch about it has not been mentioned yet.

According to Charles Darwin organisms are have two opposing poles,
a kognitive and a sexual pole. So with plants the tip of the
taproot("Apex") would be the "brain". This documentary picks up on this,
from 5:30 to 9:15, unfortunately it is in german:


The researcher mentioned in the documentary is Dr. František Baluška (unversity of Bonn, for publications see here https://www.uni-bonn.de/forschung/Drittmittel%20und%20Projekte/forschungsberichte/forschungsbericht-2006-2011/mathematisch-naturwissenschaftliche-fakultaet/institut-fuer-zellulaere-und-molekulare-botanik-izmb/dr.-frantisek-baluska/publikationen )

The essence is that plants use their apices to communicate(!) with each other and coordinate their growth.

So in my opinion a plant deprived of its taproot by being transplated
corresponds to a lobotomized human.


Another thing on the transplanted vs. from seed discussion:
When you have a rather uniform soil the growth of the roots may
be more or less arbitrary, but when you have a structured and cracked
bedrock underneath the soil(for example karstic landscapes) then the roots have to specifically find those cracks where the water accumulates.
I just dont believe the transplated plant grows comparable roots to the plant from seed in this situation.
 
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ABC ACRES has a few descriptive videos about growing trees from a cider mill, just like mentioned earlier.
They plant them thick in a furrow then move them before they set in..
 
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I've seen a mulberry cutting growing a  really freakishly long taproot once, so it seems like it's not impossible for some cloned trees to grow a new taproot. Might not be as good as a seeded one but yeah, unless a tree is in a very exposed position it's going to do fine when cloned most of the time I think despite not having a taproot. It is known though that cloned and potted plants are more liable to fall over in a storm compared to seeded trees but usually this is only an issue with really big trees in forestry as they catch on to the wind and weigh so much more than a small fruit tree would. Anyway most fruit trees that you buy at nurseries already grow on a cloned name variety rootstock, so if you clone an apple tree directly with layering or a cutting it's not really going to have worse roots than the grafted name varieties that you can buy from a nursery.

When growing trees from seed in pots or that you want to transplant somewhere just dig around the tree and scoop it up carefully from underneath if you want to keep the taproot intact(this also helps keep the other roots intact). Still a taproot probably won't grow as big in a pot as it would when grown directly from the start in its desired permanent position in the soil. Again though you typically won't have much of a problem with this when growing fruit trees anyway, but a tree with a long taproot ie seeded tree can probably resist drought better for example.
 
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Perhaps redundant, but to the point...
Tap roots are the roots derived from the first root (radicle) that emerges from the seed. The original tap root is part of the original embryonic plant. All seed plants have this embryonic tap root. In dicots, the tap root continues to grow and branch to form a tap root system which may consist of a great many side roots and a very extensive root system. If you dig up a plant and sever the main tap root, any new roots that develop off of the remaining tap root system are still a part of the tap root system.
Roots that develop from stems, adventitious roots, are not tap roots even though they may be the only root type that forms the entire root system. Roots sprouting from a stem cutting are an example. These roots are not tap roots and never become tap roots even though they may look like a tap root system.
In monocots, such as grasses, the embryonic tap root soon dies and is replaced by adventitious roots from the stem base. Multiple roots typically emerge from the stem base to form an extensive network of fibrous roots (as in grasses and onions) or a woody root system as in trees derived from stem cuttings
.
.
 
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Great post! Is there any follow up with the 10 yr old trees?
 
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Paul Young wrote:Perhaps redundant, but to the point...
Tap roots are the roots derived from the first root (radicle) that emerges from the seed. The original tap root is part of the original embryonic plant. All seed plants have this embryonic tap root. In dicots, the tap root continues to grow and branch to form a tap root system which may consist of a great many side roots and a very extensive root system. If you dig up a plant and sever the main tap root, any new roots that develop off of the remaining tap root system are still a part of the tap root system.
Roots that develop from stems, adventitious roots, are not tap roots even though they may be the only root type that forms the entire root system. Roots sprouting from a stem cutting are an example. These roots are not tap roots and never become tap roots even though they may look like a tap root system.
In monocots, such as grasses, the embryonic tap root soon dies and is replaced by adventitious roots from the stem base. Multiple roots typically emerge from the stem base to form an extensive network of fibrous roots (as in grasses and onions) or a woody root system as in trees derived from stem cuttings
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Ok, thanks for the info. That would mean that only seeded trees can have a true taproot.. that makes an argument for growing fruit trees from seed in dry areas.
 
Paul Young
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Anton,
I think the answer to that is yes or no depending upon growing conditions as you stated. Even tap root systems can be shallow, spreading root systems where the water table is high in the drier portions of the year or where there is a well-developed hardpan below the surface. If you want a deep tap root system where the water table is deep, besides growing your apples from seed which is a crap-shoot as to the characteristics of the fruit and will take several years to get fruit, you can grow seedlings and then graft any desired apple scions onto the seedling rootstock. In Washington, we have a native crabapple that is well adapted to our wet, clayey soils. Seedlings of this crabapple make excellent rootstocks for grafts here due to the tolerance of the rootstock to our soil conditions.
Also, one cannot overlook the many benefits of growing fruit trees on rootstocks derived from cuttings. It comes down to choices that suit your particular needs and goals. For example, growers that want a dwarf tree are more-or-less limited to selecting rootstocks that are dwarfing (short of a severe pruning program) and these are generally from cuttings.
 
pollinator
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Regarding the time to fruiting and fruit quality when growing an apple tree from seed: When I was five years old, I sowed one apple seed (in a pot to start with, I believe). This was later transplanted to my parents' garden, where it has grown over the years. The growth has been quite slow, as the spot is probably by no means ideal for an apple tree (sandy soil, probably not very rich in nutrients, and gets dry in summer). Anyway, this year, 22 years later, it finally fruited! Three fruits started developing, two made it all the way to autumn, and one of them was nearly ripe when we harvested them (we didn't dare wait longer, because we feared that frost might ruin the fruit). And the taste? It was really good! Unusually fragrant, decently sweet and not terribly sour (despite not being quite ripe), with a little hint of nice bitterness. If there is really only a 1 in 20.000 chance to have nice fruit on a tree grown from seed, maybe I ought to get in the habit of buying lottery tickets...

From what I've heard, the fruit quality is likely to improve with time, as the tree can put aside more energy for fruiting. The fruit might also ripen earlier.

By a really cool coincidence, this year was also the year when me and my partner finally bought some land of our own. I plan to try and clone the tree, so we can have one on our own land as well. Ideally, I'd like to try air layering, to have an own-root tree.

So, yeah. It's definitely possible to get nice fruit trees like this. I'll not make any claims about the probability (n=1 being a tiny sample size; maybe I just got extremely lucky) but it's kinda cool to have your very own apple tree variety...
 
Anton Jacobski Hedman
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Eino Kenttä wrote:Regarding the time to fruiting and fruit quality when growing an apple tree from seed: When I was five years old, I sowed one apple seed (in a pot to start with, I believe). This was later transplanted to my parents' garden, where it has grown over the years. The growth has been quite slow, as the spot is probably by no means ideal for an apple tree (sandy soil, probably not very rich in nutrients, and gets dry in summer). Anyway, this year, 22 years later, it finally fruited! Three fruits started developing, two made it all the way to autumn, and one of them was nearly ripe when we harvested them (we didn't dare wait longer, because we feared that frost might ruin the fruit). And the taste? It was really good! Unusually fragrant, decently sweet and not terribly sour (despite not being quite ripe), with a little hint of nice bitterness. If there is really only a 1 in 20.000 chance to have nice fruit on a tree grown from seed, maybe I ought to get in the habit of buying lottery tickets...

From what I've heard, the fruit quality is likely to improve with time, as the tree can put aside more energy for fruiting. The fruit might also ripen earlier.

By a really cool coincidence, this year was also the year when me and my partner finally bought some land of our own. I plan to try and clone the tree, so we can have one on our own land as well. Ideally, I'd like to try air layering, to have an own-root tree.

So, yeah. It's definitely possible to get nice fruit trees like this. I'll not make any claims about the probability (n=1 being a tiny sample size; maybe I just got extremely lucky) but it's kinda cool to have your very own apple tree variety...


It didn't at least flower before this year though?? That's an extremely long time for an apple tree to bear fruit. If it did flower earlier years I'd say there has been a problem with pollination, and if so maybe this year it bore fruit because the right pollen came in at the right time by wind or pollinating insects flying in from afar.
 
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It is well-known that apple trees grown from seed usually take more than 10 years to bear fruit, and when they do, the flavor is unknown and potentially undesirable for humans. Your pigs might eat it, but you probably won't want to.  When you graft an apple tree, the flavor is known and it only takes 3-5 years.  If you are under 30, you have huge acreage, and you have pigs, planting a tree from seed might make sense. If, like me, you are about 60, you have known preferences in apples, you don't have pigs, and you have limited gardening space, it's hard to recommend apple trees from seeds.
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As far as the taste goes. I went on a cider orchard walk last year. We were allowed to pick an apple off the trees we walked past and there was also a tasting of cider apples and hard cider made from his apples afterward. In my opinion the term spitters goes too far in describing the taste of those apples. I found that while the cider apples I tasted weren't the best tasting apples I finished all the apples I picked and finished all the slices they served.

I would say that all his cider apple varieties were usable for not only cider but for cooking, pies, and sauce except for how much they might cook down. It;s my opinion that if you save your seeds from dessert apples you'll most likely get a much better apple grown from seed unless the orchard they were grown in also grows crab or cider apples.

Some of the varieties tasted were: Dabinett, Porter's Perfection, Harrison, Golden Russet, Binet Rouge, Hewe's Crab, Kingston Black, Medaille d'Or, Somerset Redstreak, and Tremlett's Bitter. The Golden Russet while considered a cider apple is also a dessert apple. The first four on the list were those I had chosen to grow myself. I used the criteria of precociousness and annual growing apples along with getting one apple from each cider grouping.
 
John Suavecito
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There is a difference between tolerating the flavor of an apple and really enjoying it.  I have been growing apples for decades and have narrowed it down to varieties that I really enjoy. A mediocre apple isn't worth cultivating in a limited space if you can grow something spectacular.

That being said, for my particular taste, the "group" of apples I most prefer are sometimes referred to as one apple cider types. In other words, you can make a reasonable cider out of this one apple.  They have strong flavors, tart, sweet, tannic, yes, all of the above.  Mcintosh, wickson, and topaz might be examples.

John S
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John Suavecito's remarks are right to the point. If you're young, sure, go ahead and plant a thousand seeds, go ahead and carefully tend those thousand seedlings, a year or two later, go ahead and toil and sweat to plant out those thousand saplings in all that space you have, go ahead and prune and tend those a young trees for 5-8 years until you get fruits, and THEN, go ahead and toil to cut down the 999 trees that produce poor fruit. You can then keep the one good one. Fun, if you're young.
I'm 80 and still planting fruit trees, especially apples, but I will assure you that none of them are planted as seeds at this time in my life.
And to the tap root controversy. Sure, it is true that woody plants planted from seed grow a tap root and a tap root system, and that cuttings grow an adventitious root system, BUT the roots derived either way are roots. Anatomically, they are roots and functionally, they are roots. The transport tissues between root and stem are continuous in both. The term "tap root" implies a root growing straight down to the water table. Some plants have deep growing tap roots as part of their tap root system and some do not. The tap root system IS any and all of the roots derived from a seed's embryonic root (called the radicle). This can be a deep root system or shallow root system or anywhere in between for a tap root system. Plants are highly adaptive. Plants growing in dry areas with a deep water table greatly benefit from a deep tap root. Not so much so for plants growing in mesic areas with a shallow to moderately deep water table which is where most of us grow our fruit trees. Tap roots, tap roots....we don't really need no stinking tap roots.
 
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Anton Jacobski Hedman wrote:

Eino Kenttä wrote:Regarding the time to fruiting and fruit quality when growing an apple tree from seed: When I was five years old, I sowed one apple seed (in a pot to start with, I believe). This was later transplanted to my parents' garden, where it has grown over the years. The growth has been quite slow, as the spot is probably by no means ideal for an apple tree (sandy soil, probably not very rich in nutrients, and gets dry in summer). Anyway, this year, 22 years later, it finally fruited! Three fruits started developing, two made it all the way to autumn, and one of them was nearly ripe when we harvested them (we didn't dare wait longer, because we feared that frost might ruin the fruit). And the taste? It was really good! Unusually fragrant, decently sweet and not terribly sour (despite not being quite ripe), with a little hint of nice bitterness. If there is really only a 1 in 20.000 chance to have nice fruit on a tree grown from seed, maybe I ought to get in the habit of buying lottery tickets...

From what I've heard, the fruit quality is likely to improve with time, as the tree can put aside more energy for fruiting. The fruit might also ripen earlier.

By a really cool coincidence, this year was also the year when me and my partner finally bought some land of our own. I plan to try and clone the tree, so we can have one on our own land as well. Ideally, I'd like to try air layering, to have an own-root tree.

So, yeah. It's definitely possible to get nice fruit trees like this. I'll not make any claims about the probability (n=1 being a tiny sample size; maybe I just got extremely lucky) but it's kinda cool to have your very own apple tree variety...


It didn't at least flower before this year though?? That's an extremely long time for an apple tree to bear fruit. If it did flower earlier years I'd say there has been a problem with pollination, and if so maybe this year it bore fruit because the right pollen came in at the right time by wind or pollinating insects flying in from afar.


It flowered last year, and made a couple tiny fruit starts, but it shed them pretty much right away. As I mentioned, the site is far from ideal. Don't think there's a pollination issue, there are other apple trees not at all far from this one, but, well... For whatever reason, it's still quite small. Other than the soil being bad, it has also suffered a couple of moose and hare attacks over the years. Protecting it was never top priority, as we assumed it would have bad fruit at best (inedible at worst). Also the climate is probably not top-notch for apples (northern Sweden). Dunno...
 
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If nothing else Eino, you have highly commendable perseverance. 22 years is a long time! It does sound like the tree's trials and tribulations are a big factor. Just too many variables to nail it down. My hat is off to you.
Growing fruit trees here is also a challenge here mostly due to beavers and Roosevelt elk. Deer are nothing compared to these two. I put 8'-10' tall welded wire cages around the trees with reasonable success if I maintain them, but if the elk stampede, and they stampede often, they'll flatten smaller trees (up to 10'-14') because they run right over them. Steel stakes and flagging help.
 
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