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growing apple trees from seed, yes, it can be done

 
Jacqueline Freeman
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For the past decade I've been a shill for what I thought was common apple knowledge, that you couldn't grow good eating apples from seed. I've explained why for years. Well guess what, I was wrong.

I just saw this video

about growing apple seedlings and yahoo! He got good eating apples from doing so. Not stellar, but certainly not a spitter either.

So, Paul, I'm eating my words. All those seedlings you and Jocelyn saved from our AppleFest a few years ago, did they ever get in the ground? any results?

As they say, those who say it can't be done should get out of the way of people who are doing it.



 
John Wolfram
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I would add a few caveats:

1. He said that this tree was from a Wickson apple, which is an unusually sweet crab apple. Since Wicksons are usually not produced on a massive scale, it is likely that the Wickson was pollinated by another eating apple. This is in contrast with seeds from mass produced apples that are often a cross between the known eating variety (Red Delicious, etc.) and a variety known to be a good pollinator (Golden Hornet). Having both parents of the seed be good eating apples certainly improves the odds.

2. It seems like his sole criteria for what is a good apple is how it tastes fresh. The fewer criteria you have, the more likely to have something that you would consider a success.
 
Jacqueline Freeman
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Yeah, well Wicksons are notably delicious crab apples in my book. I have a spitter on our farm that's a distance from the old orchard, at the edge of the forest, so I figured it sprouted from an apple eaten and tossed. It has a distinct non-flavor. Though I hate to offend the tree, "insipid" is how I've heard it described. No notes in any direction.

A few times I have found apple trees growing just off the edge of old railroad tracks and each of those was pretty good eating, but I have no way of knowing if there was a farm there a century ago and it was planted or indeed, thrown.

 
Cam Mitchell
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Location: W. CO, 6A
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Antonovka is an apple variety that's as close to heirloom as you can get for an apple. It reproduces fairly true to type.
I have several of these growing at my place, doing quite well in my harsh climate.

AFA spitters go, these were used to make hard cider or apple jack.
You could also graft from a good variety onto the spitter rootstock.

You might consider "tree cones" if you're going to grow apples from seed.
 
John Saltveit
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On the other hand, many people on this site have said that you should never graft. Paul W has very strong opinions against grafting. If you have an urban or suburban lot with limited land, you probably don't want to wait ten years for a seedling to mature so you can find out that you DON't want to eat it. MOst people sell their houses before ten years, and they don't take their giant seedling variety fruit trees with them. Grafted trees mature much more quickly and can fit into tight urban yards. You know that it will be good because you have chosen that variety. I have grafted onto seedlings. That way you will get something good and you might get something else worthwhile. IF not, you can cut it out and just leave the worthwhile grafted variety. I agree that if you have many uses, such as cider, pigs, apple sauce or if you like apples with unusual flavors, you might be more likely to want to eat the seedling variety.
John S
PDX OR
 
M Johnson
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What do you mean by tree cones? I'm about to plant a bunch and want to increase success.
 
Cam Mitchell
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M Johnson wrote:What do you mean by tree cones? I'm about to plant a bunch and want to increase success.

Sorry, my mistake. They're called "cone-tainers".
I bought mine here: http://www.stuewe.com/products/rayleach.php
Jack Spirko has a video about them here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOeKy0jY1Jw
Of course, YMMV and you may just want to direct seed in the ground.
 
Cam Mitchell
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John Saltveit wrote:On the other hand, many people on this site have said that you should never graft. Paul W has very strong opinions against grafting. If you have an urban or suburban lot with limited land, you probably don't want to wait ten years for a seedling to mature so you can find out that you DON't want to eat it. MOst people sell their houses before ten years, and they don't take their giant seedling variety fruit trees with them. Grafted trees mature much more quickly and can fit into tight urban yards. You know that it will be good because you have chosen that variety. I have grafted onto seedlings. That way you will get something good and you might get something else worthwhile. IF not, you can cut it out and just leave the worthwhile grafted variety. I agree that if you have many uses, such as cider, pigs, apple sauce or if you like apples with unusual flavors, you might be more likely to want to eat the seedling variety.
John S
PDX OR

Yes, yes , yes. I agree. There are many ways to have opinions about a great many things.
Myself, I am not anti-grafting in principle. I think grafting makes a lot of sense in some circumstances.
But not to the extent of crazy mono-cropping. Disease resistance is better in a genetically diverse collection.

John, you probably know this, but for those who don't: I have heard that a faster way to see if an apple is good (from seed) is to plant it from seed, let it grow a year or two, then graft THAT whip onto a mature tree.
So you get fruit in 2-3 years instead of 10. I believe this is how plant breeders like Burbank did it.

I'm a proponent of backyard tree breeders, rather than having only large universities or nurseries do it. Ha! I'm punny!
 
Jahnavi Veronica
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We have a seedling apple growing at the edge of our property in the woods. We didn't even know it was there until a couple years ago, when my partner thinned some of the trees and it finally had enough light! It's super tasty. No idea what the parent apple was, but we're guessing it was just an apple from the store that someone ate and threw the core into the trees who knows how many years ago!
I imagine the tasty or at least edible seedling apples are probably a lot more common than people think.
 
John Polk
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Let us not forget John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed).
Johnny never grafted a tree in his life.
His stock of seeds was collected from the waste piles at the cider mills.

 
Cam Mitchell
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John Polk wrote:Let us not forget John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed).
Johnny never grafted a tree in his life.
His stock of seeds was collected from the waste piles at the cider mills.

Yes, I've heard that cider was one of the most popular drinks, pre-prohibition.
There's some talk that he had religious objections to grafting, and he preferred apples from seed. Not sure, didn't know the guy. ;)
As I said in an earlier post, one big use for "spitter" apples is cider, so it's sort of like he was giving a gift of alcohol to pioneers. Safer to drink that than questionable water.
Of course, he left a wide legacy and some people who "inherited" the trees after him probably grafted their favorite apples onto his seedling apples.

I plan on doing both, and really seeing how they come out.
As I said, I have Antonovka seedling trees, and I will likely graft something onto them, but NOT 100%, even on the same tree.
I will keep some of the rootstock fruiting, if only for better pollination.
I will also plant some seeds of favorite varieties, and see what I get.
Should be fun!
 
Vera Stewart
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I was really excited to learn about Antonovkas, and thought for a moment "hurray, I can scatter these seeds around recently-burnt-out-hillside!" then I read that they don't like it to get too hot. Well, it gets hot here.

Are there other true-to-seed apples availible to the amateur? What are they called?
 
Cam Mitchell
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Location: W. CO, 6A
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Vera Stewart wrote:I was really excited to learn about Antonovkas, and thought for a moment "hurray, I can scatter these seeds around recently-burnt-out-hillside!" then I read that they don't like it to get too hot. Well, it gets hot here.

Are there other true-to-seed apples availible to the amateur? What are they called?

Yes, a few, but not many. See http://www.permies.com/t/39127/trees/apple-seeds

Other plants like apricots, peaches/nectarines (plums/prunes maybe?) are much more true to type, or at least more often yield good fruit.
But I do love me some good cider!
 
Vera Stewart
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Thank-you.
 
Miguel Laroche
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I have recently randomly found skillcult videos on youtube, I guess google really knows what I like. I was planning on planting apple trees from seed for a long time but never got around to do it until I watched his videos a couple few weeks back.

Unlike plant breeding, apple breeding is a lifelong journey, start now if you are young like me !

What we have here with popular and not so popular varieties are poly-hybrids created from poly-hybrids parents, that is why apple seeds do not grow true to parents. However, if you start with some of the new cultivars, you are ahead of the game. (In my opinion, don't be afraid of new cultivars, I am not sure why people get so hung up on heirlooms, after all, we are hybrids too....) You are still starting with poly-hybrids but you are starting with poly-hybrids that have been selected over the course of a couple hundreds of years for taste, look, storage ... I believe we are closer than never before to create more stable edible apple varieties. As time goes on, maybe another couple hundred years from now, I bet that it will be hard to grow a spitter from any store bought apples.


My project starts with some Crimps lady seeds that were actually starting to germinate in the apple, I also bought a pink lady tree and a couple granny smith, all related, I think skillcult mentioned granny smith being the mother or grand mother of pink lady and pink lady the mother of Crimps, don't quote me on this though. So my first project is to grow out those Crimps lady seeds until they bare fruit (about 10 years?) and back cross them to either granny smith or pink lady and hoping to have a new variety of apples, hopefully more homogeneous, sweet and tart, hmmm
 
Bryant RedHawk
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John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed) was quite the character. He traveled around the country, staying with people along the way and for their hospitality he would give them an orchard.

Many of his seeds came from cider mills but he also carried a lot of apples with him for food needs, so many of his seeds were from apples he ate along his journey.

in 1967 I lived in Newburgh, New York, on land that had been a huge farm started in 1739, there were still family members living in the Main house when we moved into our house.
I found an apple orchard a little ways behind our house and cleaned all the undergrowth away so the apple trees could get sunlight, it began to thrive again.
I often visited the old man who lived in the Main house, he showed me a paper that was from John Chapman, it detailed his staying on the farm and his planting of the orchard I found and rejuvenated.
The trees listed in his letter of thanks specified that the seeds were from golden delicious apples he had brought in his knapsack and ate on his way from Poughkeepsie.
He planted 45 seeds in the orchard, I found 42 still living trees once I had cleared out all the undergrowth, all were golden delicious, there were no other apple trees in a three mile radius.
Since the orchard was still on the farm's land, I asked and was given permission to tend the orchard and sell the portion of the crop I didn't want to eat.

I made a fair amount of money selling the apples accompanied by copies of the original letter (provenance of the apples actually being from an orchard planted by "Johnny Appleseed").
I harvested at least 10 bushels the first year. When we were transferred to Travis AFB I took a lot of saved apple seeds from the orchard with me and planted four at our new house in Sacramento, CA.

Our current, mixed, fruit tree orchard has Arkansas Black Apple trees, a variety my wife and I are very fond of.
We planted one other apple tree, of a different variety for cross pollination, but it blooms two weeks after the ABA trees so, no cross pollination, our seeds will be true to type because of this, not a bad thing in my book.
 
Mike Turner
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I am trying to reconcile the disparate facts of the Golden Delicious apple being discovered in 1910 in West Virginia (the Golden Delicious name was coined by Stark Brothers Nursery in 1914) and John Chapman dying in 1845, never the twain should meet. Possibly the trees listed in the letter were Grimes Golden, discovered in Virginia in 1832.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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could have been, I just go with what I was told by the owner of the farm, of course he was several generations removed from the planting. I can imagine though John seeing them as golden and the apples were delicious to eat. Far be it from me to make any assertions since I didn't arrive until 1951, far from the era the trees were planted.

While we lived there I hunted in an area that was known as "the three mile wood" by the locals. I found foundations, musket balls, bayonets, and a stack of cannon balls that the local historians said were revolutionary war items. Apparently the Revolutionary soldiers camped there for a winter. pre valley forge I would think.
Newburgh is only a few miles from WestPoint, and in 1967 NAFB was the start point for the DEW line supply planes.

I know the apples were yellow skinned with a very crisp flesh that was extremely juicy, sweet and tasty. I also know that around Up-State New York there are quite a few orchards attributed to Johnny Appleseed and of the ones I visited only this one was apparently all one species, the others would have a mix of tree varieties.
which would be understandable.

As for your statement, I believe the "golden delicious" we know today was a wild tree, found in the woods.
"The Golden Delicious had its beginning in 1890 as a chance seedling on the Clay County, West Virginia farm of Anderson H. Mullins.
Originally, it was sold under the name Mullins Yellow Seedling.
In 1916, the rights to sell the apple were sold to Paul Stark of Stark Brothers Nursery and it was renamed the Golden Delicious.
Today the Golden Delicious is found in apple growing regions around the world."

Which might indicate that it was not the only one out there, just the single one found, dug up and brought to a home.
Since no one has invented "go back TV" so far, can we really know for certain the true origins of this discovery?
 
Kirk Schonfeldt
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I suppose its probable that someone grafted the original trees over to Golden Delicious at some point (one of the most popular varieties of the 20th century). When homegrown they remain a great apple (and an exceedingly common parent of modern apple varieties).

I planted out my first seedlings this spring, some OP Cripps Pink and OP Jazz. I'll graft them onto my frankentree next spring.
 
John Polk
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...Golden Delicious apple...Grimes Golden...

Perhaps just coincidence, but both of these varieties appear in my List of Self-Fertile Apples
 
Victor Johanson
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Regarding Golden Delicious, Michurin observed that it will set fruit on the current year's growth:

http://bulbnrose.x10.mx/Heredity/Michurin/MichurinApples/MichurinApples.html


This trait is rare and apparently associated with precocious and regular bearing.

The Bulb N Rose site is full of fascinating and obscure information, particularly the Anomalous Heredity page:

http://bulbnrose.x10.mx/Heredity/ANOMALY.HTML
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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