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A discussion of the first bearing age of fruit trees  RSS feed

 
Posts: 353
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There's a seldom discussed attribute of fruit that needs an airing. I'm talking about the age that a fruit tree will begin blooming and bearing fruit, An often mentioned reason for early bearing is the rootstock. It's well known that a dwarf tree will bear fruit sooner than larger trees. And the larger the tree the slower to fruit. Or so common knowledge tells us. A little known reason for early fruiting is the variety of the fruit. In apples the following are apples said to bear fruit at an early age.

 Jonathan

 Red Rome

 Twenty Ounce

There is a Rome apple that isn't said to have the early bearing attribute, namely the Taylor strain of the Rome apple. Well actually is may just be that it just wasn't discussed at my source, Wafler Nursery. I also found some references to early fruiting at Fedco Seeds.


From other sources I find reference to the following alleged to bear at a young age.
 Empire
 Yellow Delicious (Everfresh)
 Cortland
 Cox's Orange Pippin
 Wickson
 And lets not forget the famous Mann apple.

So if you want an apple that fruits at a young age it seems obvious that you combine one of the above apples on a dwarf rootstock. If like me, who's 74 you'd like to plant an apple and want to see the fruits of your labor or you need a quick pollinator to pair with a tree you already have. It seems obvious that this is a way to accomplish your goal quickly.

 PEARS

There's an old saying: "Plant pears for your heirs" So this is a fruit you'd think needs some research, which I tried. I found that:

 Bartlett

is considered a pear that bears at a young age. I guess they mean that relatively. I have one that I planted 4 years ago, I assume it was a two year old when I planted it. So at 6 years old it hasn't bloomed yet. So with some research I also found the following pears that are accredited with a "fruits at an early age ribbon".

 Beurre Goubalt
 Duchess d' Orleans
 Napoleon

Where are these pears today. Who knows, I can find references to them..... a hundred years ago. So I'd say my pear research is a bust. Maybe some of you can lend some support here.

What got me started on this article was a Rome apple seedling, a bareroot seedling on a dwarf rootstock. I bought if from Stark Bros., who shipped it on April 9, 2018. I planted it on April 23 after letting it sit a week and then opening it and spraying it with a little water and then putting it back in the box in my unheated attached garage space. So 3 weeks after planting, on May 14, I notice it was setting flower buds. So we have here an apple seedling that bloomed in its first season. This is not a year old tree that bloomed, it's a one month old seedling. The flowers are on a branch stub that was about 3/4 inch long when it was shipped. I took the following photos on Saturday May 19. Yesterday, May 21, I notice a couple more flower buds, which may or may not open. After attaching photos I don't know how to add more text, other than a caption on each photo.I would appreciate your comments and thank you for them.

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Against a 5 foot high fence
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The new rootstock is in front and to the left, in the same hole
 
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John, How old was that root stock the graft was done on?  

One of the things I've noticed about grafted fruit trees is that there are two ages to be considered when determining fruiting age, first there is was it a scion graft and if so, how old a tree did that scion come from, second is the actual age of the root stock being grafted too.

I currently have two peach trees that we just purchased, both are on 7 year old root stock (grafted trees) and this year the grafts set fruit. (it has gotten so hot lately that the trees are dropping this first year fruit though)
We have two plums that were one year whips when we planted them three years ago, they bloomed last year but no fruit set, they bloomed this year and again no fruit set.
This could be because of the hot weather coming on so early in the season as well.
I thought we might get a few fruits to set on these plums, but it was a no go.

Many of the old time species can be found by doing searches for conservators orchards, there are several around the country I'm told.

Thanks for putting up such a great post.

Redhawk
 
John Duda
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Bryant: in answer to your question of how old the rootstock was, I took a picture which I'll post below. As far as your question of was it a scion graft I think the picture might answer that also. It looks to me like it was?? In fact to me it looks like it may have been a T-Bud graft, but I'm no expert on grafting. Seems to me this was an odd location to do the graft. I'm guessing they wanted the graft as low as possible, but then that branch union was right where they wanted the graft. I measured the width of the rootstock below the branch union at 3/4 inch, or 19mm. The diameter of the stock just above the graft is a 1/2 inch.

As far as an answer to your question about the age of the tree the scion came from, I doubt I'd be able to get to a person who may know the answer, and it's also possible that Stark outsourced this seedling. I'd guess the best way to get an answer is to hope that Stark finds this thread looking for feedback and responds themselves. My own feedback on Stark is that they'd deserve the highest marks for shipping a apple tree seedling that blossoms 3 weeks after planting it out.

The picture:

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Graft on Rome apple seedling
 
Bryant RedHawk
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The root stock looks like it is around 7-8 years old and the thickness of the scion (that is a T graft, but not of a bud, the scion was a 2nd year branch. (You can tell by the thickness of the grated on tree at the graft) ( you might be able to count growth rings on those cut off parent branches)
That graft looks great too.  What they did was to place the graft at the lower branches, by doing that you can limit suckers from the root stock. (I seem to remember that Stark Bros. do a lot of their own grafting, could be wrong though (I'm getting old, LOL)

Scions will take on part of the age of the root stock tree, it's something I have seen lots of times. About 25 years ago I did a first year branch from a two year old tree as a scion onto a 9 year old root stock and the next year the scion flowered and set fruits.
The lead grafter said that happens because the new graft thinks it is older than it is.

Again, great post and follow up John.

Redhawk
 
John Duda
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Further studies of mine on the early first fruiting of fruit found this discussion of the results of early bearing of trees grown from seed. The study is entitled A study of the results of crossing varieties of apples, by Clarence C. Vincent

Age of Bearing.

Another character that should properly be considered under the heading of tree character is the age at which the trees come into bearing. The different parents studied vary widely in this respect. In Idaho, Wagener is an early variety often coming into bearing at 3 or 4 years of age. Ben Davis will bear lightly in 4 or 5 years. Jonathan from 4 to 7 years and Esopus from 7 to 9 years. The age of bearing of the Ben Davis X Wagener, Ben Davis X Jonathan and Ben Davis X Esopus seedlings seems to indicate that the age at which varieties come into bearing is a character which is transmitted. Just what the genetic constitution of the parents is, in regard to this character, is difficult to determine. The data on age of bearing are shown in Table 7, and the accompanying graph, Figure I. The material has been treated statistically, the age of bearing being used as the abscissa and the number of trees coming into bearing at each age as the ordinate.

 BEN DAVIS AND RECIPROCAL CROSSES

A study of the Ben Davis X Wegener crosses shows that the seedlings commnenced to fruit in the following order; 12 at 3 years of age, 52 at 4 years, 49 at 5 years, 32 at 6 years, 25 at 7 years, 19 at 8  years, 1 at 9 years, 5 at 11 years and 2 at 12 years.Judging from the performance of this cross early hearing is evidently an inherited character. The crosses in which Wagener occur as a parent show lower mean age of fruiting than the other parents. Wagener and Ben Davis seem to possess a factor or factors for extreme earliness in bearing. Since the mean age of bearing was above that of both  parents, it would indicate that both parents also carry determiners for lateness in bearing.


 
John Duda
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Here is the the figure and table in the discussion on the previous thread. It's from the same study linked to by Clarence C. Vincent.



AppleFirstFruiting13-14.JPG
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TABLE 1 Age of first fruiting, 1913-1914
AgeOfFruitingGRAPH..jpg
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Figure 1 "Age of Fruiting"
 
John Duda
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In conclusion this summation is made of the results of the study:

"     From a study of the data presented a conclusion seems warranted that the age at which these varieties of apples come into bearing is a character that is transmitted to the F1 offspring. There is not sufficient evidence to show that the factors responsible for the transmission of earliness are dominant over factors transmitting lateness."

To me that statement is a little confusing. I'd say that if you were looking at earliness of first fruiting then an argument could be made that if the parents are early bearers then the offspring WILL be early bearers. My take would be that if you crossed a Rome with a Rome or a Jonathan X Jonathan the results will be seeds that produce apples at an early age. Likewise I'd say that a Twenty Ounce X Twenty Ounce, since they're not self pollinating will probably result in few to no apples. I'd also point out that Rome apples were a part of this study, so I'm disappointed that it wasn't included in the early fruiting discussion.

I'm looking at crosses with the same apple as one of my interests is whether if you take a self pollinating apple and controlled the pollination so that both parents are the same apple that you'd get a similar or perhaps very similar apple that produces apples in as soon as 3 years from planting out the seed. There are many, perhaps hundreds of apples that are considered self pollinating, but in this discussion my interest is in those that will produce apples sooner than what you might get by setting out that bareroot whip that you paid $40 for plus shipping. My interests with the Rome apples are that for many years, 30-35 years, I've had the opinion that with half MacIntosh and half Rome apples you get a delicious pie. I used to get Rome apples at my local supermarket, that ceased. I could still get them at my local orchard till last fall.


 
Bryant RedHawk
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It seems that the Rome apple has been replaced because of the very sweet varieties coming into vogue the last ten years. I notice at grocery stores that Rome apples are missing and that there are more of the super sweet varieties in their place.
Those (like me) that like apple pies, are having fewer choices of varieties available that make the best pies.
I currently grow Arkansas Black Apples but we are considering putting in two Rome apples since we can't get them at our local store.
My wife and I do not care for those new super sweet varieties at all and they don't seem to last like the older apples either.
 
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