Advice transitioning from Bud9 rootstock to Antonovka

So last year I ordered a bunch of apples that I wanted bench grafted to Antonovka. Due to miscommunication they all arrived as 1-2 year old grafted to Bud9. I had already paid so I planted them anyways. My soil can be wet so I think Antonovka is a better bet. I also plan on being here for the next 40 years so again Antonovka is a better bet. I plan on size control by brutal summer pruning in combination with my zone 4 winters.

I have orders in for Antonovka rootstock for this spring.

What do I do?

Bench graft scion from my currently planted Bud9 trees to the Antonovka rootstock and:

A) Plant in a nursery bed and next year pull out the bud 9 trees and transplant in the Antonovka grafted trees.

B) Plant next to (within 1 foot of) the current Bud9 tree and then next year just dig out the Bud9 tree.

C) Pull out the Bud 9 tree and plant the bench grafted Antonovka rootstock in its place (while grafting the desired apples to existing trees I am keeping to serve as a backup in case there is a problem so I will have scion wood to try again next year).

The varitites I want to change over from Bud9 to Antonovka are:

Redfree, Crimson Crisp, Pristine, Egremont Golden Russet, Enterprise and Goldrush. The trees I was planning on Option B were Redfree and Goldrush.


A healthy dose of paranoia goes a long way. I would plant the new rootstock beside the old ones. I would bench graft the new rootstocks with the desired scions and save back scion wood of each to regraft if the first doesn’t take. You will then have a backup in the refrigerator and another in the ground. Besides what if the new rootstocks don’t do well? Then you still have the bud 9


If the new rootstocks/grafts take do you suggest digging out the Bud9 trees or cutting them off at ground level?

It’s up to you whichever is easier for you. If you leave them in the ground pound a piece of copper in the stump to kill them.


Could you plant the Antonovka next to the Bud9 and do an approach graft?


Quick glance on Google seems to say approach graft is used mostly with tropical plants? I think there would be issues with the difference in caliber plus the fact that the rootstock is bare root and not growing yet meaning a couple months before you have enough fresh but hardened off wood to try.

I think I will bench graft them all but keep the Bud9 trees until I see the new grafts have taken. At the same time will also graft some backups to my existing keeper trees in case something happens to the new grafts once I take out the Bud9 trees this fall/next spring.

TheFluffyBunny so your saying dig up the bud9 drop it 6 inches lower in the ground to root the scion instead of worrying about the rootstock which would be great to make a full sized tree but im not sure it addresses the water logged ground problem. No gurantee the scion is soggy ground tolerant. Im not sure either way. Antonovka was to address the water problem. I like your approach for turning a dwarf into a full sized tree.

This exactly. From my other posts I mentioned I have fairly heavy clay with some water issues late fall / early spring. Dries out nicely and existing M27 in a slightly dryer spot has been doing ok past 4 years. But the idea with Antonovka was for something cold tolerant AND that would do ok with clay/bit of wet feet. As for size control I will be doing heavy summer pruning to control vigor to hold to 8 feet or so. Perhaps this is a fools errand but I have come across others who use the combination of cold zone + vigor control to keep the size manageable.

Honestly, I am just playing here. I have a combination of things growing. Anything dies or becomes disease ridden or is a hassle will be taken out. I will be keeping 1-2 on Bud9 to allow for earlier fruit and just to see how Bud9 does in my soil.

I’m just playing around.

As for Goldrush, there are people just 50km south of me in zone 5a who regularly ripen fruit but they do keep them on the tree until November. We do get nice hot 30C+ summers so who knows. Like I said, why not try? I’ll leave them up for a couple frosts, pick in Nov/Dec and see how they go.


I like your optimism and it sounds like you have things pretty well thought out. I like the idea of Antonovka also or any larger tree for that matter for all the reasons you mentioned and others.
I have to agree with Fluffy though, I am very, very doubtful of successfully ripening Goldrush in Z4. I guess it’s possible, a thread in which Alan and others discussed zonal differences (Mrs. G’s orchard) opened my eyes to just how different climates can be within the same zone.
Having said that…I really can just barely ripen it properly here in Z6, and realistically my climate is too short and too cold for it…ideally that is.
Winter just comes a bit too soon here in the mountains for it.

Bear in mind I’m a VERY novice grafter, but have you considered a Bud9 interstem on your Antonovka? I would think you could cut your existing Bud9 trees below graft union and put that on Antonovka so you get size control (maybe mature to 12’) and your wet feet tolerance. Just a thought.

Also, you guys have me worried about my GoldRush ripening here in Z5A, though I know its grown in a nearby orchard and harvested in late Oct (though I haven’t tried them, so I can’t comment on their ripeness). Though I’ve heard (in general) that they’re ultra tart at harvest and mellow in storage to a wonderful sweet-tart by February.

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I had to reassure myself so did some quick historical climate research and it looks like I have a very similar climate to that of West Lafayette, IN where Purdue is located (which is presumably where it was bred, since its a PRI release). West Lafayette has about a 5 day longer frost-free growing season, is 1deg of latitude south of me (and a few hundred miles east), a couple hundred feet lower in elevation and gets a couple hundred more GDDs. I think Ill be fine with Goldrush. Sorry for hijacking…back to your original topic.

Just because it was bred in Indiana doesn’t mean it was bred for Indiana. GR was a product of a large DR breeding program with all the hopefuls released for trial plantings in numerous locations. Those with merit were selected and their co-op numbers replaced with names. It was evaluated in plantings in California, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Washington, and Bologna Italy. PSU does not recommend it beyond central PA. PRI thought it an ideal fit for North Carolina growers.
Mine are full size in early October, maybe even September, so I could harvest them then if I needed to. They wouldn’t be much account though. I harvested on Halloween night the previous year and they were lousy to say the least.
Mine has bore fruit now for 2 years, maybe three, I can’t remember. Last year a warmer than normal fall allowed me to ripen them, and even then, I think they would have benefited from more hang time. On the other hand I was impressed at how well they handled the cold November. The ripening date here would be around Nov. 14, we have typically had many freezing nights by then. Frost really doesn’t seem to be an issue. ACN does not recommend the variety for northern climates. I wouldn’t either.

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For goldrush, I know that just south of me in zone 5a they grow and ripen goldrush though I have not tasted them myself. It is their last ripening apple and they harvest in November. For its reported flavor, disease resistance and keeping ability I wanted to try it, if it does not work, well I will just graft other stuff to it instead.

Their area has 2072 Growing Degree Days (average daily temp above 5°C). In theory my area has 1868 GDD BUT my place has full southern sun exposure and is in a bit of a microclimate.

If in Canada you can see where your region stands.

If this helps at all my spring thaw is generally the 2nd week of April and I harvest my first batch of Rhubarb around May 21st.

As for the interstems, yes I had considered it. In fact that was what I was supposed to get last year, Antonokova rootstock with Bud9 interstems but they all arrived as pure Bud9. The problem now is that all the Bud9 trunks are very good calibre with the smallest being about Âľ of an inch in diameter and I am not sure it will match with my rootstock. I might play a bit but I will see.

So time will tell. I’ll let you know in 5-10 years if I ever get anything.

Yes, by all means give it a try…GR is worth it. If you graft GR to B9, you won’t be waiting very long for fruit.
Good luck.

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Can anyone comment if a Goldrush grafted on Antonovka rootstock is a good match.
Time to fruiting not a big issue

I know I’m extremely late, but I’d plant the gull size trees half way in between (assuming you planted them with the full size spacing (over 12 feet) and then you’ll have your dwarf trees bear fast and eventually be shaded out a bit, but also protected from wind and replaced after their short lives.
Or even better plant a second row on the north side.

Hope your solutions worked out.