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Landrace STUN

 
dos zagone
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So this is regarding apple trees but might be better in different cartgory . I was looking at my unmaintained apple trees and they look pitiful. Lots of dead branches very tangled ectra... I moved to this property a couple of years ago and none of the previous owners maintained them. But was Looking at some of the other non Apple trees in the yard and they look great with no maintenance. Was wondering if it is possible that through landraceong ect to get a apple tree that is better structured and a care free item. Does this seem possible and how would you select seeds to a guide these traits? Seems like a hard trait to go for.
 
Dan Boone
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Well, any kind of selection of selective breeding of apple trees is difficult because of the long time between seedling and fruit. It can be ten years or more depending on the variety. Which means each of us only gets to work the selection for a limited number of generations.

One thing I can imagine doing to speed up the project is searching the world for healthy and happy neglected apple trees -- ideally "ferals" that grew from seed but abandoned cultivars would also work. Essentially you are letting the history of the world and the many millions of trees abandoned by chance do all the slow bits of breeding out trial trees, while you concentrate on selection. Then you could take the seeds from the best neglected trees you found and work from there -- along with cuttings for grafting if the trees were awesome enough to justify that.

Sadly this is easier to say than to do. How exactly you'd find and get an opportunity to select from a gazillion abandoned apple trees is far from clear to me.
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Apple trees already are structured to do great without human interference.

Ala Fukuoka and Holzer, it's the act of pruning which necessitates that pruning be maintained.

Nursery and box store trees have pretty much all been pruned, thus creating this self-sustaining cycle.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Dos: There is an orchard near me that contains hundreds of apple trees that were grown from seeds collected in and around the center of origin of apples. There is tremendous diversity in shape and form. Our strategy with pruning, is to do the minimum pruning necessary so that we can get a good feel for the natural growth patterns of each tree. Yes, it's a long, slow process. The current steward of the orchard is the daughter of the man that planted it. It's easy enough work. Time between generations on apple trees could be around 5 years, so if you start now...

Dan: Excellent strategy. I'll start paying attention to apple trees with the intent of collecting some wild/feral types that pretty much take care of themselves. Before I started growing garlic from pollinated seeds, I took a similar strategy... Garlic is so rare from seed, but it happens from time to time, as evidenced by so many varieties of garlic, so if I can't grow a true landrace, I can at least select among existing cultivars for what thrives on my farm... There is one garlic seedling in my greenhouse that sprouted this week!!!

Kyrt: I've pruned perhaps 500 varieties of apple trees. There are huge differences in form between trees. From trees that grow essentially vertically, to trees that could be called weeping. I think the ideal form for Dos's project would be varieties that grow more in a weeping habit. And also trees with shorter stature.

If a fruit tree is too tall to pick, then it seems to me like there is no point growing it... I cut the top half off of my mother's apricot tree this year. It is still too tall to pick all the fruit, but a higher percentage is within reach now.

 
Kyrt Ryder
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Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:If a fruit tree is too tall to pick, then it seems to me like there is no point growing it... I cut the top half off of my mother's apricot tree this year. It is still too tall to pick all the fruit, but a higher percentage is within reach now.

I *don't* pick most of the fruit off my apple trees. Sure I'll pick some of the low hanging fruit, but most of my apples are either shaken out of the tree or harvested from the ground. It may be a matter relevant to the cultivars of apples I have [and I know it doesn't work this way with pears] but I've always found a daily trip out to the trees during their ripening season results in getting mostly optimally ripe fruit.
 
Jason Silberschneider
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If you take all the fruit off the tree, how do you have surplus to return to the animals who helped you grow all that amazing fruit?

I have a strict rule that no more than 80% of my yield is for my use. The rest is left for my millions of employees who help me every day allowing the food to be there.
 
dos zagone
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Yeah i can see where the time restraints can play a major problem with long term plants. I assume everyone on here probably feels that it is very weird that most people do not pay attention to food. If everyone looked it could be done in no time. I have heard about the not pruning method but my trees look god awful. I just cut off the large dead branches and even then the trees looks a mess. Ill have to upload a picture of them. On other notes all my newly planted fruit trees this year are budding. Since these came from nursery and have been pruned and also grafted i assume i have to continue the trend? Do any nursery grow non grafted varieties. And if so how can they know what kind of fruit it will produce? I was under the assumption that a seed from a apple tree can come out with a large variety of possible fruit.
 
leila hamaya
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it may have been bad pruning that cause it to grow that way now.
so you probably have to keep pruning. the no pruning, or very little pruning, method works best if you do that the whole time. or you try to get it back to that way, shape it once or a few times after getting it, to bring it back to a more natural shape, so it doesnt have to be pruned.

so it may seem that being abandoned was what made them into a mess, but it seems likely to me it may have actually been the badly done pruning, followed by being left to grow out from that.

without really seeing anything sounds like you might want to be cutting off quite a few branches, completely..... as in dont cut them halfway, cut them off completely at the trunk, and cut quite a few this year, and then quite a few more next year.

well i have...weird ideas about things maybe, but if its at the point where you say its just a mess, sounds like thats the way to go.
i tend to be more in the no pruning camp, or rather very little pruning camp. but if it gets to be a "mess" then sometimes you have to do something drastic.

with my stuff i try to get them to a point...where i wont have to keep pruning, that feels natural, i guess i do it mostly by feel and try not to overthink it. and usually i am not pruning as much as taking cuttings/air layering, or cleaning up dead and odd looking branches. if i think i want to prune something, i make a mental note to come back and try some air layering on those branches, or just take cuttings.

but i find its best to usually take the entire branch, right to the main stem or trunk, and not leave those half branches. those are the ones that will grow out weird. dont know but i feel like...that may be what happened to your apple trees previously, to make them now years later a "mess".
 
leila hamaya
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and i think its great fun to grow fruit from seeds, i'm really into it and have planted hundreds =) of fruit tree seeds.

being only a few years into it though, i have yet to be getting any fruit. but by now i have at least got some momentum, have some 4 year old seed grown fruit trees, with many younger ones starting to finally get bigger and older.

stone fruit (plum, peach, apricot, etc) are usually very good when grown from seed, true to type, or darn close to type, and generally considered a pretty good bet for good fruit. apples, and pears, are two of the trickier ones, only as far as getting what people would universally consider edible fruit, the apple in particular has a tendancy to crab apple ness. getting seed from good varieties grown near each other would increase the chances of not getting crab apple qualities, and it doesnt help that many people, commercial apple growers, use crab apple as pollinators. so the seed from the grocery store or commercial apples has a higher chance of having half crab apple genetics. although not all do this, you just wont know which ones are pollinated by crabapples.

then again theres always the "whats so bad about crab apples!" argument =) my landmates also grow out fruit/nut trees from seed, so theres a few plums and cherries here that are from seed that we enjoy, good tasting fruit, on own roots, names of parents long ago lost. not so long ago i was talking with one of them about the whole fruit trees from seed thing, and i like that we re all on the same page =). so we talked about even if you try it and it doesnt work out great, no biggie, really no big deal, a chainsaw and an afternoon and your problem is fixed...or just let it grow and forget about it, leave it for the animals, enjoy it for just being a tree... or even "what's really so bad about crabapples"...she said...which i had to say enthusiastically "Exactly!"
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:
Joseph Lofthouse wrote:If a fruit tree is too tall to pick, then it seems to me like there is no point growing it... I cut the top half off of my mother's apricot tree this year. It is still too tall to pick all the fruit, but a higher percentage is within reach now.

I *don't* pick most of the fruit off my apple trees. Sure I'll pick some of the low hanging fruit, but most of my apples are either shaken out of the tree or harvested from the ground. It may be a matter relevant to the cultivars of apples I have [and I know it doesn't work this way with pears] but I've always found a daily trip out to the trees during their ripening season results in getting mostly optimally ripe fruit.

I'd like to note this comment was intended for household use, I wasn't thinking in the context of fruit as a product for sale.
 
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