Apple tree retraining

Hello guys, i have recently purchased different red fleshed apples on a mm111 rootstock online. Sadly, the tree first branch is very high, approximately 1 meter. I would like to cut it back down to the red mark, making it close to a 60/70 cm height, in order to also train it better.Do u think that is possible considering the tree is 2-3 years old ? Thank you very much.

You should be able to cut that just about anywhere above the graft and get regrowth.


If those are going in ground I would not cut. The mm111 rootstock is a large tree that I have found to grow in heavy soil and handle severe drought very well. 12 weeks no rain temps in upper 90’s. A limb at the red line will always be in the way.


If you have any deer pressure you might think about keeping your tree a little high. I think a little more like @pincirusguy , above.

M111 will take 3 to 7 years for first fruit in most cases.
Adding a year to that if you cut off the top.

So I’d leave it alone.

What cultivars are those…nice looking trees by the way.

The deer will prune it for you :grin:

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Lucky me I have no deers whatsoever, maybe some kind of badger, but still I wouldn’t want a tree that is too high because I don’t really want to use a ladder to get to the fruit, as the ground is irregular and pretty steep! The varieties are : redlove era, Circe , odysso and Geneva crab! I also saw a couple of flowerbuds on some of them , so I think they are pretty early producing even for a tree that young !

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I don’t think any of us have a 12 or 20 year old tree of any of those to know if they will

grow into a ‘normal’ sized tree. I’m thinking they will always be somewhat smaller than your average tree. (But, I’ll know in another 10 years).

But, yes, one of my Odysso bloomed the spring I planted it…but I don’t know which root it’s on. I suspect M9.

That’s why I chose an MM111 over a 106. Red fleshed apples tend to be a little smaller than average trees in my experience ( which is very little ). Also here the terrain may get boggy for a couple days in the rain season, so I want to have the most resistant rootstock to rots


If you get the tree in the ground and think that you want a lower scaffold, then you could “notch” the tree to put out some branches. Then you would not have to cut off all of that top growth.

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If you want a mm111 tree to be dwarfing you are going to have to multi stem it or espalier or dutch fence them and i think you will have to cut it around 50cm and you may have to notch to get branches where you want them.

My mm111 tree is a bramley (bad combo for a small tree) and i am trying to keep it semi dwarf which works as i can withhold water however to get her to fruit i have to tie branches down and any branch not tied down in 7 years still does not fruit.

I also have era and hope for it to be fireblight resistant!

I agree on avoiding ladder work. Keeping tree short has many benefits. You may need to do lots of summer pruning to calm down rampant growth. Winter pruning invigorates the tree; summer pruning de-invigorates, if there is such a word.

Thank you very much for your amazing responses guys! I will surely have to work on both summer and winter pruning, but I have no idea what “notching” means in this case. How do I do it?

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There are some threads relating to notching on this discussion list, but here is an article to help you on your way: Correcting blind wood in apples - MSU Extension.

Actually, I was pruning a bit today, and notice a spur with a flower bud on an Odysso about 12 inches above the ground…and it’s not on dwarfing rootstock. I suspect all those “Redlove” trees are less than full size even on standard seedling rootstock.

I have a Giant Russian and Redfield and Otterson…now I’m expecting full sized trees and full sized apples from those with deep red flesh. Those seem to be the exceptions. Most have thin skinny scionwood and obviously won’t make a huge tree, or at least not for many years.
Niedzwetzkyana produces thick scionwood, but apples are a bit less than tennis ball and are shaped more like red delicious. Tree looks more like a pear tree in shape, and gets pretty big…I planted one 8 years ago on M111 that is 25 feet tall. I planted it as a ‘decorative crabapple’ in front of a house…surrounded by things like honeyberries and currants.

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Thank you very much guys! I will learn a bit about notching and evaluate what to do! I have the same varieties grafted on an m9 rootstock to evaluate the taste and resistance to pests. So i dont really need to have production in a little time, but rather a strong and beautiful tree!

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