Apple Rootstocks for Tennessee Clay/loam soil


Hi. What are your recommendations for growing apples in humid, warm middle Tenn. (zone 7a) on loam/clay soil between M111, M7, Bud9
I’ve read that M111 is larger, better adapted to clay soil, well-anchored, however, it seems to come into bearing later than these other rootstocks and requires more work in pruning, etc.
M7 (12-15’) is a good size for me but I’ve read it is less productive, suckers badly. Staking it is not that big a deal for me.
B9 is precocious with early bearing and is a nice manageable dwarf size but I am concerned how well it would do in soil that drains slowly and is somewhat wet (being loam/clay). Could I plant it on a mound for better drainage and stake it to grow well?
Thanks Much!,


Are pH or any minerals potential concerns? They could impact vigor as well. I might look at g890 as well if size/staking/precocity are concerns for you. Interstems give you a lot of options as well if you care to go that route. I picked up a clearance priced b9/m111 from Cummins last spring (ironically, I’m just going to bury the union and make it a landscape tree that should fruit some day).


As @Uygi mentioned, give some thought to interstem. I grafted a number of M111/BUD9 and M111/G41 trees this year. I plan to bury the bottom graft union such that the dwarfing interstem piece roots as well as the M111 beneath it. Free-standing and no staking, good root system, precocious and manage-able size. That’s my hope at least…

I plan on burying them a bit deeper than that image shows…

I’m in Northeast Tennessee BTW.


I have a number of g890 grafted trees that are planted in clay soil. Free standing, good bearing trees with disease resistance in a tree thats about 50% seedling size. I have some trees on m26, g41, and bud 9 as well. The m26 needs support and the g41 and bud 9 may as well once they start bearing heavily.


I’m so happy with the growth of my g890 trees so far, but they’re still young. But up to about 6’ height they’ve been super cooperative, resilient, and once established a little bit (even as small whips) they’re very drought tolerant… which is huge out here in the west.


I do wonder though, why do people use m111 on the bottom, instead of something deeper like b118 or even seedling? Maybe it’s because most nurseries aren’t designing for the parched, desert-8-months-of-the-year I live in.


I have a handful of seedlings I plan to use in interstem grafts next year. Just curious how they’d work and figured I’d give it a try. I had planted the root part of the BUD9 and G41 meaning “free” interstem pieces, so why not…

Yikes. Last fall was the worst drought this area had seen in probably 50 years. It didn’t rain for almost 3 months. Even so the creek through my front yard didn’t dry up completely. Not sure how I’d fare in an area that dry!


Where I live, any smaller trees need irrigation by May or so. Larger trees probably don’t need regular irrigation, though. My 2nd year g890s in the ground need water 1-2 times monthly in “normal” summer weather, more when it’s 100+ though. I hope that in a couple of years they’ll only need at most a few watering per year.


Just wondering if you have done a perc test to determine exactly how fast your soil drains?
Without knowing that I would suggest MM111 with an interstem, or trying the new G890
About half my trees are on MM111. It is very drought tolerant here. I am tired of pruning and cutting root suckers though.


In my experience M111 is the way to go in this region. If you train the young supple apple branches below horizontal they make spurs quickly and will fruit faster. They do take longer than the others but make a much hardier, stronger tree with better anchorage and nutrient/water reach. Just make sure to plant high enough that the scion does not root, but that is with all grafted apples.


Agree with Blake , and the M111recomendation.




I have 10 trees on MM111 in my orchard. Overall I have been very happy with them.
These are the downsides in my experience

  1. They have a lot of root suckers that need to be cut at least twice a year
  2. I think mm111 has more burr knots than most rootstock. This was disconcerting at first and unsightly but I think they are not a real problem.
  3. Vigorous scions can get very vigorous. I have Northern Spy on mm111 and it needs to be pruned a lot. Tons of water sprouts too.

Lots of upside though. I am going to g890 with all my new plantings but don’t regret mm111.
I spaced them at 18 feet in all directions.


If you’re in a hurry for fruit, Bud-9 seems to be a good choice (KY). But staking trees is highly recommended on dwarfs.

M7 and M111 are great, but takes 3 to 7 years to see any fruit. And M106 isn’t good in bad drainage. (But Bud-118 might work. And I’m experimenting with G-890 for a M7 replacement that bears earlier. To be determined how it does in poor drainage.)


You could take a shot at g16, which needs “little to no staking“. Availability seems pretty spotty, but I’ve bought some to fill in the half-spaces at the end of my g890 rows and they’re doing great so far. I gave mine each a t-post, though. A t-post is easy and a lot cheaper than losing a tree! But it’s a lot less work (and a lot cheaper) than integrating the tree into a big expensive steel trellis with tensioned wires, like I’m doing for my b9-sized trees.


I love the MM111 trees that I have, but I am not planting anymore.


@tennessean grows apples in west TN, maybe he could comment.


I’m hoping for manage-able size, precociousness, and no staking/trellising… With M111/BUD9 and M111/G41 interstems. I already know M111 does well here. Burying the lower graft union will hopefully make some of the negatives of M111 not be an issue as well. Fingers crossed.


Oh, I don’t keep up with apple rootstocks, other than 4 grafted seedling rootstocks that I have mostly for the deer. I purchased my store bought trees from Willis and Walmart both of which don’t list rootstocks.


Im in Ashland City with thick clay chert. My m7 trees do very well. I have tried b9 on probably 7 different varieties with little success. Just not enough vigor as it seems to stop everything in the heat, even with irrigation.

M9 was better but I am tired of trelising and stakes. G30 has worked well but hatd to find. M111 is a bit too vigorous for me. I dont want ladders if i can help it.