Apple Rootstock Advice for me in Illinois

M7 has the characteristics I may be looking for. I have far too much land to prop trees up so I need a well anchored tree that I can mow under or around.

I’d like to know if there are better dwarf or semi-dwarf rootstocks for my loamy clay soil though. Basically my soil is pretty good and a ph of 7.0

Preciousness would be nice too. I know some rootstocks produce larger apples while some produce smaller apples. I really don’t know which is the right way to go. It seems to me that a rootstock that doesn’t overproduce, should there be such a root, and produces medium size apples that will not require as much thinning… then that’s what I’m probably looking for. I can wait additional years if there is a rootstock that comes into bearing a few years later.

MM111 has produced burr knots here. It’s time for a change.

Thanks for helping,


How have burr knots hurt you? M111 produces burr knots everywhere, but I have never had a single problem with them here in the S NY region.

The problem I have here with 111 is excessive vigor for varieties vigorous to begin with. The problem with 7 is it doesn’t anchor well and tends to tip in wet soils around the time it bears its first heavy crop. Heavy conduit driven deep in the soil as support can counter this. Of course, it is more likely killed in excessively wet or dry conditions than 111, but is lots easier to manage with vigorous varieties and also comes into full baring a couple years sooner with these than 111. .

The Cornell rootstocks might be a ticket, but I’ve only limited experience with G30 which works well if there isn’t a compatibility problem- had a single tree snap at the union after about 5 years growing nicely. No problems for the 12 years since with the survivors.

Here, M26 can work very well with vigorous varieties, or even 111 with a 26 interstem. 26 by itself can become a free-standing tree but support is advised for a few years. It produces a much less complicated tree to prune than trees on more vigorous RS, especially 111. Of course, it is also quite precocious. I need to grow trees quickly above the deer browse line so I seldom use it, however- except for espaliers.


7 leans over ,or falls over ,here,
I’dont want a apple tree that I have to hold up.!
Most of my trees are on 111, they are large and productive. Well anchored…and tolerate my heavy clay very well
My arthritis wishes they were shorter, going to plant younger trees ( 111)
Have some on 106 ,smaller and more manageable than 111. Though still a large tree .well anchored
Had some coller rot in the wettest areas with 106 , but only in the very early years. 106 is good here .
Don’t know much about newer rootstocks.
I do wish I had one that was smaller than 111 ,did not need support.
But the deer would just eat every thing then.
I am glad they are over their head


M111 anchored poorly here just north of the KY/TN border. Had to prop a bunch of M111/M9 trees to keep them from reclining prostrate.
M7 good, and M106 has been OK, but I’ve come to prefer M26 - anchors well and trees are very manageable…20 yrs out, they’re still less than 10 ft tall - with virtually no pruning other than cutting scionwood- and bear well.
I pulled a bunch of M26 suckers this spring, potted them up, and grafted a number of them to various crabs and a few apple varieties.


Hi Alan, I was mislead I assume that burr knots if not dealt with (sawed off) would continue around the trunk girdling it. I thank you for everything else you commented on.

Thank you Hillbilly.

M26 sounds pretty good at the moment as does my M111 yet again.

My newest thought is that my loamy clay is always moist beneath the surface even under drought conditions where its cracking with running lines thru my landscape. I wonder now if M111 or M26 is best for a soil that’s consistently moist.

Thank you guys,


If that was likely to happen, I guess the instructions would be to bring the soil right up to the scion. Burr knots are only root primordia, after all. That is why it’s such a good rootsock to produce by stooling. That is, pilling soil against it- the suckers make roots.


I’m going to stick with M111.

I’m going to dig up my apples whether I need to or not and bury them to a few inches beneath the scion. They’re at most 1.5" caliper and will be super easy to dig.

Thanks gentlemen,


The literature suggests planting them so the graft union is a bit above the soil line so the scion doesn’t root and create a tree with seedling vigor. This certainly happens with varieties that develop root primordia along the trunk, as does Red Delicious, N. Spy, Gala, Snow, Spitz and many other varieties that don’t jump to mind at the moment.


I tried to word that exactly as you said. That I will have the scion a few inches above ground level.

Thanks all. Best regards.


1 Like

May be better / easier to make a mound of soil up to that point ,instead of digging them up.
Mine have the graft ~ 2" above ground. No problem.


MM111 is king in Kansas as far as i’m concerned.

G202 maybe?

I’ve been using 111 for decades and manage over a thousand trees I originally installed on it at various sites from clay to sand- never OBSERVED losing one to burr knot created girdling or borer damage and have always kept the scion above the soil line with varying rates of distance.

However, this may be a regional issue as my curiosity has led me to do a search, and burr knots apparently can be a significant liability in some regions around the world. How damaging bur knot related issues are in the U.S. is hard to know by searching for information. I don’t believe records are maintained or that funds are provided for this kind of effort. I once asked Jim Cummins (Cornell root breeder) why he was touting the lack of burr knots on Cornell rootstocks and, for some reason, didn’t get a satisfactory answer. He didn’t contradict me when I said I’d never had problems with 111 or any other rootstock as a result of burr knots.

I’ve never read of substantial losses of trees due to burr knots in any commercial grower trade magazine or any other contact with growers talking about real life experiences. This is the only research I found on the subject. One thing of interest was that environmental stress probably exacerbates the problem- there is a mention here that spring transplanted trees were more stressed and suffered more burr knot problems than fall transplanted ones in a comparison of these problems in two orchards.

There was also significant difference based on the scion cultivar. It is also mentioned that 7, 26 and 111 are all susceptible to burr knots, although my experience, based on casual observation, is that 111 is particularly predisposed towards burr knots and are usually on trees as they arrive from the nursery.

Perhaps part of the key is that trees need to grow vigorously during establishment which is usually the case with trees I manage. I generally dress trees with compost and mulch after transplanting and try to make sure they receive adequate water while establishing. I also apply nitrogen.

I’ve never actually lost a peach tree to girdling borers either, and have long assumed that keeping young trees growing vigorously is key.


Heck of an article, Alan. Not at all what I was expecting.

For those of you that have 10-15 minutes to kill I suggest you read it.


What if you left your 111 as it currently is and used an interstem to control fruiting and top growth.

@ BlueBerry
Ok you got my attention about G 202
Do you have trees on this ?
Or anyone else?
How do they do ?

1 Like

Cummins,, and a couple other nursery websites give a description of G.202. I chose G.210 and G.222 for the eating/cooking portion of my apple orchard. I chose those 2 because they were both noted to tolerate the cold (I’m a Z4a), didn’t need staking (although there is some contradictory info on that) and they tolerated poor soils (I have sandy Adirondack soil). G.222 isn’t offered by many nurseries, I’m not sure why. I did 98 grafts on each variety this spring, and saved 2 of each rootstock for other purposes. The G.210 was a disaster. I lost about 50% of those rootstocks, many of which were very poorly rooted, and a few had no roots at all, just the white bumps/callusing indicating roots were about to pop. The G.222 was better, but still had a lower success rate than EMLA.106, P.18, and B.118. I hope in the long run these rootstocks make up for this poor start, but I’m really on the fence about any more Geneva rootstocks. I may order more for spring '19 from another nursery and see if I fare any better and to see if what I receive is better rooted. The P.18 and B.118 came from the same nursery as the Geneva rootstocks.

1 Like

I’m not going to leave M111’s here as is. I’ll bury them. The trees are 4-years old I suspect and I don’t want to start over grafting the same cultivar.

I am now interested in G 202.

M111 is perfectly fine though if I bury the rootstock, however, G 202 has a lot of resistance to both insects and diseases.

G 202 description. Penn State:

Geneva 202 (G.202)

Geneva 202 (G.202) is a semidwarfing rootstock that produces a tree slightly larger than M.26. It was developed from a cross of M.27 and Robusta 5. It is fire blight and phytopthora resistant as well as having resistance to woolly apple aphids. The rootstock has been mainly tested in New York and New Zealand. In New Zealand they are looking at this rootstock as a possible replacement for M.26 since it is more productive than M.26. In a 9-year study with the scion cultivar of Liberty, G.202 was about 50 percent smaller than M.7 but had much greater production efficiency.

Penn State Apple Rootstock Descriptions

M111 Description Adams County Nursery:

EMLA 111
A vigorous semi-dwarf, EMLA 111 produces a tree somewhat larger than EMLA 106. Trees are well anchored, resistant to collar rot and woolly aphids. A good selection for heavy, poorly drained soils.

Adams County Nursery Apple Rootstock Descriptions


1 Like

Hillbillyhort, I’ve only tried 10 or 12 G-202 roots each of the last two years.
Had 100 percent graft takes this year on G202. Growth rate seems a little “retarded” compared to G-30 or B-9 where new grafts are concerned. England’s nursery said they attract Ambrosia beetles for him…but I’ve not seen those in any apples in my community.

I expect a small simi-dwarf tree that doesn’t have to be staked, just like M7 doesn’t have to be staked.
But, time will tell.


I have two G202 trees, that were planted in '16, one each of Liberty and Winecrisp. The Lib has done OK, but seems to lag compared to my other two year old trees, and the WC has been a dog. If it wasn’t for my puny Golden Russet on G222, it would be the worst growing tree in my little orchard. There are two M7 trees of the same age not 15ft from those trees and they have done much better.

The soil the 202’s been in isn’t the best, and gets a bit of standing water sometimes, but there are three G16 trees in that same row (2 Grimes Golden and a Novaspy), and they’ve done very well.

Just my 2c on my small sample of G202 trees.

I also have 3 G30 trees (Rox Russett, Zestar and Suncrisp), and they seem to be very vigorous trees.