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Natural dwarf species for good apple rootstocks

 
Kevin Goheen
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Location: Western Kentucky - Zone 7
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I want to start a good supply of grafted apples on the farm. We have wild Chickasaw plums which is a good semi-dwarf roostock for most stone fruits, so I thought it would be good to grow something similar for apples. What would be a good semi-dwarf or dwarf species that is compatible with apple scions? I read you can use mayhaws in a book, but I haven't seen anyone else say anything about them.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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I am going to give you a list of links so that you can make your best decision about dwarf root stocks for apple trees.

Cornell University study

University of Minnesota

The New Fruit Grower

Root stock guide

Hopefully, these will guide you to a best fit for your area.
Keep in mind that dwarf and semi-dwarf trees tend to live for approximately 20-25 years instead of the 150+ that standard size trees can live.
That may or may not be a concern to you and your space.

Redhawk

 
Kevin Goheen
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Location: Western Kentucky - Zone 7
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Unfortunately I meant something naturally dwarfed instead of copyrighted apple varieties for that purpose.I do appreciate it though.
 
David Livingston
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quince easy to propagate- hard wood cuttings no probs go for it plus nice fruit its self too
 
Kevin Goheen
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Location: Western Kentucky - Zone 7
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Which quince species? It would be neat to see an apple grafted to a Japanese flowering quince, it would be very dwarfed lol
 
David Livingston
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quince
Find some one with a quince tree take a cutting, year or so instant rootstock pity you are not closer I could give you a hundred cuttings no problem
 
Kevin Goheen
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Location: Western Kentucky - Zone 7
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Thanks!
 
David Livingston
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you mayfind this information more helpful as well http://uncommonfruit.cias.wisc.edu/quince/
 
Kyrt Ryder
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Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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If you have the right soil for it, Malus Fusca is supposed to be semi dwarfing as an apple rootstock.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Kevin Goheen wrote:Unfortunately I meant something naturally dwarfed instead of copyrighted apple varieties for that purpose.I do appreciate it though.


In my world, naturally dwarfed means some tree that is growing in a very marginal space (natural bonsai).  (trees are patented, copyrights are for writing or visual media)

Perhaps you mean you want low growing trees? I don't know of any "natural dwarf fruit trees" except the ones now used as rootstocks, which tend to grow fruits that are not particularly "desirable for either taste or smoothness of mouth feel.

The way many people do what you seem to be talking about wanting is to prune the tree to the desired height and then yearly prune to keep it at that desired height.
This method works very well and will produce a tree that gives high yields of very good fruit.
 
Tj Jefferson
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Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
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Bryant, you have an immense experience with this and in a relatively similar climate. Have you had any experience with the French style branch downsloping branch preference shown in the Permaculture Orchard? If so (or not an opinion would be valued) does this predispose to CAR due to the change in drip structure. CAR is a big issue here... All clay and tons of cedars, it's the reason I am hesistant to do Malus spp. at all.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Tj,  I have only one issue with that, usually the trunk connection of branches is not strong enough to withstand eventual breaking away by the branch under fruit load.
             The main reason this happens is that selected branches don't have a protruding junction (more like a T) prior to training. A T bud junction at the trunk has the ability to be down-sloped and not fracture at the junction, as long as the training is done over a few years by using weights or a heavy wire.
             Support of these branches is best done with the heavy wire method (just a scaled up bonsai technique) since the wire is loosely wrapped then bent slowly to the desired shape.

I have one tree I am trialing doing "upside down" bud grafting on, hoping this will work for a nice down sloping tree form with no stress to branch joints. We shall see how well it works or if it works.

I prefer right angle formed branches but that is just me.
I prune my trees for best junction type branches, tight V junctions are very prone to split off under a load of fruit so I like to get rid of those or support that weak junction (which creates another set of issues for the tree).
In every case of tight V junctions, the branch will be pruned as soon as feasible, I want my trees to be strong and healthy and I consider this type of pruning to be promoting health since there won't be an opportunity for stress causing a bark fracture where nasty things could infect the tree.

CAR is easiest to control by air flow, wide branch spacing with solid branch junctions are going to be healthier. Cedars tend to help CAR to over winter and thus spread.
I had a small issue on the farm last year and I've removed all the "in the wind flow" cedars, which pained me since we consider them sacred.
I have to spend time with any cedar that has to go away, explain why I have to cut it and promise to use it for good purpose as well as burn the branches as an offering.
Using the removed tree's trunk is a good way for me to honor the tree spirit and it keeps it close to us. ( fence posts, gates, house roof supports are all ways I use these trees so they are not wasted but remembered and honored).

Suktogeje iyagna nakicizin 
 
Tj Jefferson
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Thank you Bryant for the input. I adore apples and pears but there are literally thousands of cedars here, all have signs of infection, and the neighbors have provided them with Bradford pears to keep the party going. Even a test planting means I have to remove many mature trees in the 8-14" range. They are nearly a biculture with the holly as an understory here. So depressing because they are tremendous bird habitat. I think I am going to do without apples/pears for now. Which is awful. Really should have asked about the CAR first, because that is the crux of the problem.

 
David Livingston
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I am missing something here whats CAR ?
 
Tj Jefferson
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cedar apple rust. There is a similar issue with hawthorn and quince here. Just a major pain in my eliminatory area.
 
David Livingston
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Thanks we dont have that here in France
yet ..............................................................
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Tj, instead you might want to consider berries, they have few of the issues of apple, pear and peach trees plus there is new research that is showing that eating lots of "dark" berries can keep your arteries clear and will even clear up very clogged arteries.

The berries I am getting ready to add to our fruit menu are; Thornless black berry and raspberry, blue berry, Saskatoon and huckleberry. Very high nutritional value, few disease issues and the cedars will play nice with them.

(btw, I have some 14 inch diameter cedars that will have to come down eventually since they are in the site of the larger, commercial produce fruit trees). I plan to use these trunks as main house supports after I peal the bark and dry them, should be pretty good looking.
 
Tj Jefferson
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My friend, I am a berry magnate! They are candy! I have about six cultivars of blueberries, blackberry (nonthornless, people are not getting much success with thornless here), aronia, serviceberry, trying strawberry (shall see), black cherry, raspberry, and I'm trying haskap for an early season bloomer.

Shrub level is pretty well-subscribed, I'm trying to get some fruit trees. Deer are a problem... My neighbor has a feral peach doing well, so I am rooting as many as I can this coming week, he has perfect soil for it. No disease, just lush! We have some native plums not doing much. Persimmon doing well, asian and native.

I just want an apple tree. Is it too much to ask?
 
David Livingston
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crab apples are pretty tough and have wider genetics than other apples maybe they can cope ?
 
Tj Jefferson
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AFAIK there are no truly resistant plants. This is found in the wildest apples and hawthorns (I mean what would target hawthorn!) There are many people looking for that grail! I have a friend who is growing for increased resistance from seed, but as you are aware, the generational time is such that it would mean a massive undertaking or genetic modification. Or I just don't grow them sadly.

http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/trees-shrubs/cedar-apple-rust-and-gymnosporangium-rusts/
 
David Livingston
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bugger there is even a quince rust!
 
Casie Becker
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Maybe there's an alternative plant that can help fill that gap in your diet. I know jicama is often described as tasting like an apple, and has a similar texture. What is it that you like about the apples?

Not exactly a solution, but that's where my brain went.
 
Tj Jefferson
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Oh dear, it's not for my diet, its for my very soul. Seriously, though, I hate jicama. I made a whole bunch of it assuming it was rutabaga and it wrecked a meal. And I'm someone who feels strongly about rutabaga.

I'm looking for trees not annuals...I hope that all was funny to you it was an attempt.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Apple varieties that normally show good to excellent
resistance to cedar-apple rust include Red Delicious,
McIntosh, Arkansas Black, Winesap, Mollies
Delicious, Spartan, Priscilla, Liberty and Empire.
Varieties that are usually highly susceptible include
Prima, Sir Prize, Lodi, Jonathan, Rome, Golden
Delicious and Jonafree.
source: U.Tennessee

During warm rainy days in late April and early May, cedar trees infected with the cedar-apple rust fungus will develop bright orange, gelatinous galls.

Cedar-apple rust is an interesting disease. It requires both an apple and cedar or juniper to complete its life cycle. On the cedar, the fungus produces reddish-brown galls that are up to golf-ball size on young twigs. During wet weather these galls swell and begin to push out bright orange gelatinous tubular structures. Wind carries fungal spores from these gelatinous structures to susceptible apple or crabapple cultivars.

Infection occurs when these spores land on a susceptible apple cultivar and moist conditions prevail. Small, yellow spots begin to appear on the upper leaf surface shortly after bloom. Spots gradually enlarge and become a bright yellow-orange color. These brightly colored spots make the disease easy to identify on leaves.
Fortunately, there are many varieties available now that show good disease resistance. Redfree, Liberty, William's Pride, and Freedom are examples of new apple varieties that are immune to cedar-apple rust. These varieties are also immune to apple scab and show good resistance to powdery mildew and fire blight. Examples of apples that are susceptible to cedar-apple rust include Jonathan, Rome, Wealthy, York Imperial, and Golden Delicious.
source: U. of Nebraska

One of those should work for you Tj 

We grow Arkansas Black apples.

Redhawk

 
Casie Becker
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Then from the sound if it, you best bet would be location. If you could somehow plant your apples trees where they were completely protected from any wind that might carry spores to them. I'm guessing that's why you're looking at dwarfing root stocks.

I do understand. I've been trying to get runner beans to grow and become perennial in my yard for years. I didn't even get beans most years but every year I tried again. I'm waiting to see this spring if I have finally had success. If not, I'm planting again.
 
Tj Jefferson
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Sadly, I know someone that has planted many of them. They are more resistant, but if you look at the literature, any cedar within 2 miles is a risk! Any cedar within a couple hundred meters will prevent fruit from setting on even a healthy resistant cultivar without controls that I will not use. The local apple growers here grow on hills above the cedar level and use fungicides.
 
Rez Zircon
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Keep in mind that dwarf and semi-dwarf trees tend to live for approximately 20-25 years instead of the 150+ that standard size trees can live.


I once planted an extreme dwarf peach that never got over two feet tall, and only lived about 10 years.
 
John Saltveit
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In general, peach trees don't live very long.  I have read that ungrafted peach trees live longer,because they get less disease. I have some here that produce well some years, but I live in a nightmare climate for peaches with our wet springs, and some years we get one peach.

Quince is a great dwarfing rootstock for pears if you first graft a compatible variety.  Afterwards, you can graft whatever other pear variety to the pear.

I have never heard of grafting apple to quince and I believe there is a compatibility problem.

Some pears can be grafted to hawthorn and take quite well.  Other varieties seem to not take, so it is a trial basis.

I have grafted winter banana to malus fusca and it took, but it isn't very quickly productive. I wouldn't try to graft any other variety to malus fusca, but I would graft any other variety to the winter banana.

Some people have grafted hawthorn to apple.  I don't know if there is long term compatibility.

John S
PDX OR
 
Gregory T. Russian
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Kevin Goheen wrote:I want to start a good supply of grafted apples on the farm. ..... What would be a good semi-dwarf or dwarf species that is compatible with apple scions?


As we know, seedlings make a good root stock (though maybe inconsistent, but this can be overcome).
I would:
1) go here - http://www.homeorchardsociety.org/growfruit/apples/estimated-tree-vigor-for-apple-varieties/
2) find in the list varieties marked as T1 (naturally compact)
3) try to obtain fruit from those varieties and have your own seedlings
4) select those you like for the natural compactness and graft onto them

For the fact, I have a tree of Wealthy(T1) myself. 
What I found interesting was when scions of Wealthy are grafted onto any other apple tree (I do this to improve pollination and have backups of a variety), those grafted scions remain very slow growing compared to other grafted varieties.

 
Andy Green
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Hello Kevin,

I develeoped a different strategy.

Looking for dwarfs is highly restricting in choice.
Make your own dwarfs.
I have 20+ fruit and nut trees. All under 2.5m. Many of them already productive.
And all will stay at 2-2.5 metre, because that is the size I designed them to stay.
How ?
Root control bags.
These bags are made out of geo-fabric (predicted lifetime 50+ years).
If you put a plant (any) in a root control bag you will observe some amazing effects.

The plant roots will grow strait into and through the root control bag.
But, because the geo-fabric is made in a way (needled) that do not allow to widen the very fine holes in the fabric, the root is stuck after about 10 cm grow.
This restricting of the roots has has an almost magic effect on the plant.

The plant "think" it is grown up and done with root development.

The plant now:
- Stop growing in high.
- Start growing fruit/nuts.

VERY early. Usually after 3-4 years. Even with species that usually take 20+ years unrestricted to come in production.

You will get a strong ! healthy, productive plant.
I have: Acca sellowiana | Araucaria bidwillii | Asimina triloba | Carica papaya × C. pentagona | Coffea arabica | Citrus × sinensis | Cyphomandra betacea | Diospyros kaki | Ficus carica | Jubaea chilensis | Juglans neotropica | Morus alba × Morus ruba | Morus macroura | Morus nigra | Musa acuminata | Parajubaea torallyi var. torallyi | Punica granatum | Rollinia deliciosa | Xanthoceras sorbifolium

In root control bags.
Only Diospyros kaki and a peach are grafted, all other on own roots.
On own roots works best with root control bags. If you can't get what you want on own roots, get it on the most vigorous root stock available.

I have the best results with 3 gallon / 10 litre bags in 40 litre high strength plant bags (with handles).
You can put the bag of course also just in the ground. You *may* have to secure them with stakes to not get blown over.
They make usually a 2-2.5m plant.
But you can also start with a 2 gallon bag and if the final size after 3-4 years is not large enough, just transplant it to a 3 gallon bag.
The plant will start growing again until the new bag is filled up with roots.

If you one day decide that you want 'free' a plant from the bag, no problem the plant will establish itself in an amazing speed and start growing again until its natural/genetic size is reached.

You can get them sold as "Smart Pot" http://treebag.com/root-control-bag/
For example sold worldwide from: http://www.horticulturesource.com/high-caliper-3-gallon-smart-pot-10-x-8-5--p20408/
There are Chinese clones sold as "Phat sacks". These seems to work too. But I would stick to the Smart Pots because there are since many years on the market.

Good luck.

Andy

P.S. if you want recommendations for fertilizer and my irrigation system, ask.
 
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