Apple/crabapple rootstock primer?

Although I know a few random things, I’ve never really systematically read about apple rootstocks, so I’m interested in reading information, the more thorough the better, about options for rootstocks for apples and crabapples. (Is there any difference, by the way, in the rootstocks one would normally want to consider for apples vs. crabapples?) I’d especially like to learn more about seedling options, how seedlings from any random eating apple would compare to any other options as rootstock, including perhaps apple species not normally eaten. I’d also like to learn enough to figure out how to propagate my own rootstocks. (My interest in self-sufficiency is a big part of the reason I’m growing fruit at all.) I’d certainly appreciate any pointers and information any of you all want to share, but I’m hoping you can point me to good sources of information that are more extensive and thorough.

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Here is a link:

In the past I have bought apple rootstock from Fedco I went with the Antanovka rootstock they sell because of the deer - it is a standard rootstock that will eventually outgow the deer problem. The rootstock and the varieties I grafted onto them are doing very well.
I have also had good luck grafting regular eating apples onto crabapple trees, however, it is probably best to start out with a disease and pest free rootstock from a nursery.
There are many well tested rootstocks to choose from with characteristics like fireblight resistance, tree size, soil adaptability, resistance to woolly apple aphid, and more.
There are some apple varieties known to produce good seed for use as rootstock. I think northern spy may be one of them.
Reproducing rootstock clonally from wood appears to be challenging. There is a link within the above link to the NC-140 program to check out.

Plenty of information out there regarding commercially available rootstocks. All the common rootstocks not under patent protection are easy to get and can be grown from stool beds if you wish to create your own supply. First you need to answer these questions: What size of mature tree do you want? What is your soil type? Are you willing to stake or support those trees grown on certain rootstocks?

Seedling rootstocks tend to be slow to produce and have enough variability in there performance that you generally cant predict what the performance will be from variety to variety when grafting your scions,

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The Reference section has information or rootstock and a simple Google search usually works. Her’s a spot in our Reference section:

Most of my apple trees are on M111 , makes a large free standing tree ,
5-6 yrs befor they start Bering ,
M111 seems well adapted to the heavy clay soil here.

Some apple on 106 , Slightly smaller than 111.
But is susceptible to collar rot , in a wet heavy clay may not be a good choise .
Lost some on 106 in establishment years, but the ones that made it look good.

My apple on seedling took 8-10 years to start Bering , and are big.
That’s a long time to wait.but they are known to have the longest productive life,you may need a 16- 18 foot ladder to pick.

The 106 and 111 usually sucker very little,and I have been cutting any off when I prune
Last year I put pots over some suckers and “air” layered them in the pots with soil. Worked good.
This year iam going to layer more , but this time I am going to graft them too.
Hopefully by fall I will have well rooted ,potted ,grafted ,little trees all huddled
Under mama, like a hen with chicks !


I like the size of 111/106 , as at least they get most of the apples over a deers head, if not ,many years there would no apples for me.
As I get older and those trees get bigger ,it is more challenging to pick !

So my question is who has a good report of some of the newer dwarf rootstock .?
Thinking of trying something that will max out at about 8-10 ft.
AND be free standing , requiring NO support. On heavy clay.

Anyone have any recommendations ?

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G.935 has done well for me in rock hard clay soil. It is not aphid resistant which may be an issue for me later on.

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I spend a lot of time debating the merits of root stock this fall. I finally decided that since USDA sends 2 stick of scion wood per request, it is enough that an even an inexperienced grafter can make at least 4 attempt. And since they take up so little room I decided to buy Bud9 and EMLA27 from raintree and I’m planning to order some G11 Cummins. My 4th attempt is going to be on a home depot tree I bought just to practice with.


Apple seed dormancy question .

Does anyone know if apples are held in cold storage for months.
Then processed and the seed removed for seed stock, does the time spent in cold storage " count " toward satisfying the stratification requirement ? Or not ?

Apple do require cold stratification but there requirements are no where near extreme. Its not uncommon to find seeds already germinating inside late hanging cultivars. Any stored apple likely already met the requirements.


Ok , so right you are .
I have apples in cold storage ( a garage)
Have been processing them slowly through the winter for my own use.
As they have been cold ,my question above was ;
Does the time the fruit was in cold storage "count " toward the stratifying period for the seed.
While I have not noticed any seed sprouting “in the fruit”. , when planted in a warm area inside they are defiantly sprouting.
I am starting these for seedling rootstock ,in my nursery ,to be planted here on the farm and grafted.

Something I learned to make seed harvesting easyer is ;
I run the apples through the peeler corer , machine, then take the cores ,score with a knife at the seed cavity, snap in half , and put in my dryer for a day,
On parchment paper.
When removed ,the seeds are so easy to rub off the dried cores
In fact many just fall out in the dryer on the parchment paper .
And yes , they still sprout after being dried . ,and rehydrated of course .
So this looks like an easy home based source of trees to me.

I might not be in a rush to grow Crabapples for rootstock. This blog post which they backed up with references indicates root stock can strongly influence fruit flavor. While only native US Malus angustifolia (southern crab) was implicated in inducing off flavors. It is interesting there is a major difference between triterpene levels with MM106 and M9. Triterpene is a cancer fighting component, its also a saponin which make soap and herbal flavors.

I find that some crabs (especially ornamentals) will not grow on M111 and need a seeding or colonial standard rootstock. For example Dolgo is a huge tree on it’s own roots but will cling to life on Semi-dwarf stock.