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Loss of fruit tree size choices  RSS feed

 
Posts: 330
Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft
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I was looking for a semi dwarf Red Rome apple tree and didn't have luck. My first place to look was at Stark. I then looked around. Then I tried looking for a Red Rome scion to make my own. I'd already ordered two different choices in apple rootstocks. I ordered M111 and M7's which I grafted to the M111 as an interstem.

So what I finally resorted to; was to order a dwarf from Stark and plan to graft  it to the interstem combo in mid summer. My plans are to make a slightly larger diameter hole/fence and plant them together. I'll use the semi-full rootstock as my stake to hold up the dwarf. I don't expect that both will make it, maybe, but I expect that the dwarf will be overwhelmed by the semi-dwarf combo.

But then I noticed that there aren't many apples available as a semi dwarf from that source. I was thinking they're eliminating that choice. But then I noticed it's not just apples. And then I noticed that there aren't as many variety choices either. Four pears, two tart cherries with one size of each. Do we have to worry about the nurseries dropping the semi-dwarf. I know the orchard industry is going all dwarf's, a thousand trees per acre, I heard in Europe they're going to 4000 trees per acre. So is the industry dropping the semi-dwarf and does your favorite nursery just buy from the same sources the big orchards buy from.

So is this a case of a business going down hill or is there a lack of interest in growing fruit trees by the general public. I did look at the Jung catalog and they seem to have the same variety and size choices as they've had the last couple years.

 
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Stark's is both commercial and residential so that stands to reason.

I know I ordered 20ish trees from Burntridge a couple years ago and all were semidwarf.
 
garden master
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They don't sell Rome apple it seems, but Burnt Ridge Nursery out of Washington is a wonderful, affordable nursery with a huge variety of plants.  They sell many trees, some with many height options.

Burnt Ridge Nursery apple page

I've ordered dozens of fruiting trees, shrubs, and plants from them, and all grew except one honeyberry.  And I think that was my fault. Ha!

Back in Oregon I ordered about 90% of my permaculture plants from Burnt Ridge, and I've even called them a few times for advice or help.  They helped me solve a kiwi issue and were always very helpful, even though I could tell they are crazy busy during the tree season.

Other places that have good variety are Raintree Nursery and One Green World, which both sell semi dwarf as well.  They are a little spendier than Burnt Ridge, but they have hard-to-find varieties available.  Good companies, all.  I have ordered from all of them, though the most from Burnt Ridge.

Raintree Nursery apple page

One Green World apple page

Hope that helps!
 
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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Kim Goodwin wrote:Other places that have good variety are Raintree Nursery and One Green World, which both sell semi dwarf as well


My method was starting my food foresty orchard mismash with a big diverse Burntridge order, then buying fill over the following couple years from Raintree.
 
John Duda
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Kyrt and Kim

I checked out the nurseries that you both mentioned. They don't have the one I want. I already did the graft of the sem-dwarf to the semi-full root stock. I'm awaiting the dwarf Rome seedling. But you confirm that I'm not going to all this trouble for nothing. Also I wouldn't be so insistent on a semi-dwarf except that I've never had luck with dwarf trees, here in SW Pennsylvania. Between the clay here and the runt root system they just don't grow, at least for me. Maybe it's because I don't use commercial fertilizer that they need. They sure won't grow on manure from my cow and they won't grow on mushroom manure.

If I were in the fruit tree business I would grow my dwarf stock on an interstem as I'm going to do with this one. I think my customers would appreciate an easy to grow dwarf fruit tree, that grows well, and produces fruit that's commensurate with the investment required to buy and grow that tree. I know of a dwarf Bartlett Pear that grows 3 pears each year, consistently 3 pears. But I wouldn't even be looking to plant a Red Rome except that they've disappeared from the grocery shelves. I have an orchard with a market stand that's had them but this last fall they had them on the shelves, we bought a bag, got them home they were mismarked. But by the time we got back there, they were out of stock. So I assume they gave up on the variety also.

The Rome apple is a staple in the baking industry. I understand there are over 100 orchards in central Ohio who specialize in growing Rome apples. But the markets respond to advertising. The advertising is pushing new varieties of apples. The advertising is being done by people who developed new varieties and want to sell their product. They don't really care how the apple tastes, how it bakes, the quality of sauce,  apple butter, or cider it makes. They don't even talk about the virtues of the apple. They make it the "√ŹN" apple, the one to eat to make your school friends respect you for eating the right apple. The more dwarfs you buy to produce the apples you require, the happier they are.

But it was after I ordered the dwarf that I noticed the lack of choice that I mentioned above.
 
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You are experiencing the "Latest, Greatest" syndrome that has transmuted from the computer industry to all corners of the agricultural world over the last 20 years.
It used to be that new varieties were introduced because of a need for something different, now it is just introduce the newest and convince people it is better.
This is part the advertising business and part the commercial nursery grower. Like new cars, the seller wants you to know that you need that spanking new vehicle because it is the new model with more bells and whistles than you can shake a branch at.

Conversely there are many revolting nurseries that are going back in time, bringing back old heritage models but most all of these are on full size stock or on their own roots.
For most permies, who tend towards homesteading over commercial farming, this is not a bad or undesirable thing since the semi and full dwarf models die out far faster than the good old full size trees.
I've never found a dwarf more than 40 years old, ever. I know of many 200+ year old full size apple, pear, peach, plum trees though.

The current trend is the normal "modern Ag." design, more production on the same amount of land, more chemicals to use and more machinery to own.
Commercial orchards don't really think about the costs of replacement trees until a whole section dies off. When that happens they will be either looking for the new latest, greatest, or they will revert to what worked over the long haul prior to their switch over.

To me the first thing to do is plan out how long you want fruit from a tree and how much space you have for those trees, this will give you your best options for both size of tree and space required.
If you want a potted tree orchard, you sure don't want to go with full size trees, you would be spending a lot of time pruning and repotting to do fruit that way.
If you have a limited amount of space, then you might want to go with semi-dwarf or full dwarf with the knowledge that after just a few decades you will be starting new trees to take the place of the old trees.
Most of it will depend on your end goal, are you producing just for yourself or are you doing the farmer's market or are you doing the whole foods grocery store market style.
Each has advantages and drawbacks, then there is the non commercial nurseryman model where you grow trees to sell to others, again just another model with goals.

Redhawk
 
John Duda
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Bryant

My requirements are a tree that's small enough to maintain. A tree that's short enough to spray. A tree that I don't need a chain saw to trim. I have 3 old apple trees here on the property. One just fell over late last fall. It was 30 or more feet tall. There's a Yellow Transparent that's now about 12 feet tall, after a major trimming. My neighbor told me I'd over done it, but it still gave a nice crop last July. There's also a Gala, I think, apple two properties over that's got to be 60 feet tall. But these trees produce a horrible apple if not sprayed. Actually the Yellow Transparent produces a reasonalble apple, I think because within a day of being ripe the apples are gone. Eaten by birds, squirrels, or a very sneaky neighbor. It goes from a tree with 100's of apples to a tree with a couple half eaten apples overnight.
So I need a tree that I can spray. But My wife doesn't want the lawn filled with trees, and she 's afraid of me going around a lot of trees on the mower.

I ordered scions of Black Baldwin, a Cherryfield and a MacIntosh from Fedco Seeds along with 10 M111 rootstocks. I also ordered 5 M7 semi-dwarf rootstocks from another source. I've already grafted the M7's to the M111's and grafted the 3 scions to the M111/M7 interstem. I've also grafted an M7 to an M111 that I'll plant in the ground and then t-Bud graft the Red Rome to the planted interstem in early August. I intend to plant the roots of the M7's so that next year I can cut off more scions to use for additional interstem's. It's my opinion that Fedco is an outfit that is going back in time and finding apples from Maine that might have otherwise disappeared as you said.

I also plan to experiment this spring with self pollinating a MacIntosh I have acess to. I want to see if I can produce MacIntosh like apples if I make sure both parents are MacIntosh. Those will be full size apples grown from seed. I also want to see how long it takes to first fruiting when both parents are non crabapples.

I'd also like to experiment with growing dwarf apples on an interstem using M111 as the rootstock. My intention is just to see why dwarf fruit trees do so terrible, at least for me.

 
Bryant RedHawk
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That's exactly what I am talking about John, we are in that wonderful positon of being able to choose the exactly right tree for our spaces.

We can graft our own specimen trees these days or we can utilize age old methods such as pollarding, the way they did in the 16 and 1700's in France.
Today we have options other than the "old standards" or even the "new wave" we are free to decide what our land needs and then we can provide the perfect fit.

It is sad that those commercial nurseries have failed to remember that there should be as many options as are possible so that they can make the most sales.
Instead they succumb to the hype and fall into the Latest, Greatest fad pit. That just makes it necessary for folks like you and I to learn the skills of the nurseryman and then we don't really need their products any longer, we have gained that skill set and rendered them an option instead of necessity.

In many ways that is just the way the world turns, but it really is sad that these folks are probably limiting their ability to continue their jobs, unless they focus only on a small niche of growers, the commercial orchards.

Those of us that gain the skill set, will always have every option available to us and that can only be a great thing.

In my area I am the only one with full size fruit trees, I know how to prune them and keep them a harvestable size and many of the varieties I like, aren't available in smaller trees unless I graft them myself.
Currently I have two figs that have, once again, died back over the winter. I am now thinking of changing out those trees with another variety of fig.
If I was a fig orchard I could be in trouble, but I'm not so there is the option of testing new varieties to find that perfect match to my land.

On those disappearing apples, could deer be part of the pilfering crowd? Or raccoons?  I know both have a taste for good apples. And don't discount taller 4 legs like horses and donkeys, our donkey loves apples, pears, plums well enough that we have to keep her fenced out of that area.

Good luck with your experiments, I would love to hear the results. (the crab apple is used as root stock to speed up fruit setting)

I am as puzzled as you about the dwarfs not performing for you.

(yes, fedco is doing the back in time stuff, bringing back old varieties that are almost lost to us all)

Redhawk
 
John Duda
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Bryant

The deer eat any fallen apple. They also trim the bottoms as high as they can reach. I see them standing on their hind legs browsing the branches, which I don't mind. Makes it nice to mow under! I never thought of the raccoons which are hereabout. But I never saw them up in a tree. I'm not looking when they're probably there. The deer eat every apple they can find. I watch them approach, as they near a tree they start running, faster, faster, Trying to be the first there.

But how many apples can  the neighborhood raccoons eat??

 
John Duda
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:You are experiencing the "Latest, Greatest" syndrome that has transmuted from the computer industry to all corners of the agricultural world over the last 20 years.
It used to be that new varieties were introduced because of a need for something different, now it is just introduce the newest and convince people it is better.
This is part the advertising business and part the commercial nursery grower. Like new cars, the seller wants you to know that you need that spanking new vehicle because it is the new model with more bells and whistles than you can shake a branch at.

Redhawk




Funny you mention the computer industry. I worked in that industry 50 years ago this year. Was hired in 1967, started Jan 1, 1968. I worked on a computer in 1971, 1972 with up to 4 CPU's and 2 sets of IO channels. It had 5 memories that could be accessed simultaneously. The customer I worked at had it figured out tho. They only bought 3 CPU's and 2 IO channels. After all if you could only access 5 memories one of devices therefore could do nothing. Four of the memories were core memory which had a one cycle access time.

Today's computers seem so much faster. However the memory has a delay of up to 15 cycle time. Let's suppose you have a memory that could access on every other memory cycle. The effective speed would be half the speed of the clock. Back then we called it a wait state, a hiccup. But the advertising today talks about the clock speed, but ignores the actual speed. It's not good for the advertising to admit that we double the clock speed and then do another delay.

So, last year I was in the hospital, I met a fella, a volunteer. His employer, long ago, owned one of those old computers a little older than the one I spoke of. I told him that I don't know whether today's computers are actually that much faster. They are a little faster, but... how much. He looked at me like I was a psych patient. Today's computers have multiple CPU's but although there can be multiple memories there is only one path from memory. So if you use the old time companies rule you don't buy more than can access memory at one time. One.

I will say that there are much nicer programs, they call them apps actually today. There are also protocols to accomplish a lot of marvelous things. The terminals then could only display characters, no pretty peetures. Computers today are, I admit, much smaller, handheld. They use less juice, electricity.

 
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