Apples on m111 fall over and break

Some of my apples on m111 (which all of them are on m111) are very weak rooted fall over and then break off at the crown roots. I have had this happen to over 15 trees. Only two of my apples on m111 have put on what I would call decent growth. They are in a very sandy soil with a ph of 5.5 and very little nutrients but I fertilize them and much them. We are drought now and they are never in standing water. The steam just appears to be broken off at the roots with no crown rot. What could be causing this? I am in zone 9a / 8b in NW FL. Would using seedling apple rootstock help me ? Most of my apples grown extremely poorly and some are just 4 ft tall sticks with 2 - 4 branches after 6 years in the ground. I’m thinking m111 was a poor rootstock choice for me and maybe apples aren’t for my climate. But my joahthon and west filed seek no futher apples are growing decently.

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I’m almost exclusively using M111 as a root stock and they are doing well as of now. I’m wondering if the combination of low ph, sandy soil, and warm temps might be your problem. If I were you I would find a local apple orchard nearby if there are any and talk with them about which root stock is best for your area.


there are no apple orcahrds here I would need to head 200 miles north for that.

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MM111 does great in clay soil in So-Cal and I have no complaints. Your soil must be nothing but sand and very nutrient poor. In which case I doubt you’re gonna do well w/ any rootstock, unless you start trucking in some better soil. My assumption is that your fertilizing is ineffective and simply drains away unused. Perhaps you could take the Terra Pretta approach the Amazonian natives came up with hundreds of years ago for improving sandy soil quality – biochar.

This method improves the ability of your sandy soil to hold on to nutrients.

Also, have you tried any of the various low chill cultivars – e.g. Anna and Golden Dorsett? – these are quite vigorous growers. They were first tried in the US in your area (or thereabouts).

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If you go north 200 miles you would be near me. Hope you can get some good advice from other posters.

Your fertilizer may drain fast through the sandy soil. Did you try foliar fertilizer application?

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I have very good luck with mm111 in clay / loam. They are one of the few rootstocks that does well in Kansas.

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M26 does well in well-drained soil, but it needs to be staked for the entire life of the tree. It grows about 12 feet tall. A slightly larger option (between M26 and M111 in size ), is M106. It should do ok without being staked. I think that the problem you are having is a result of a lot of top growth that is relatively unsupported by all that loose sandy soil. Also, your post said that you live in Florida. Did you happen to check for nematode damage?


Didn’t check for nematode damage will do that. I had both anna and dorsett golden apples they did not grow any where near as well the joanthon and westfield seek no further. Westfield seek no further and jonathon have the most growth and have never fallen over the ones that fall over have very little growth and were staked until the stakes rotted. Apples are the only trees with this problem. My pears (on seedling calleryana and betaufolia) , plums ( on nemaguard peach and marinna 2624 rootstock), loquats ( on their own roots), pomegranates (on their own roots), figs, (on their own roots), citrus (mostly on their own roots or seedling sour orange) all grow wonderfully which is why I thought seedling apple might be the key.

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I have found the problem with my trees!!! I dug up the roots still in the ground to check for nematodes didn’t find any nematodes but I found what I believe is a flat headed apple tree borer larvae or some other kind of flat headed borer larvae now to start spraying the trunks and soil around my apple trees.



Borers are a common death of trees in hot climates; you need to paint the trunks, 1/3 drywall mud, 1/3 white latex paint, 1/3 water, especially at the graft union and on the south side.

You may want to plant on domestic seedling or Antonovka rootstock, which will make the most of your sandy soil. Anna and Dorset will bear the 2nd year anyway, even on seedling rootstock.

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I assume you don’t have pine voles there- they are the only thing that make apples on 111 fall and die here in NY as a general rule. Their damage is pretty obvious because the roots are actually eaten and the tree becomes very wobbly. Pull it out and the rootsystem will be reduced to a carrot.

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I’m glad you found the cause, and so sorry that it had to be those beasties. I wonder how they would respond to an application of wood ash around each tree.

I now put wood ash around all my trees our soil is extremely deficient in potassium so it is helping that way too.

Southern west-central KY, 70 mi NW of Nashville TN, good clay soil with relatively high water table and exposed site. Initial plantings, 20 years ago, were mostly on a combo M9/M11 rootstock. I’d say that close to half of them, over a period of years, leaned over well beyond 45 degrees, necessitating pulling them back upright with tractor during the wet season, and propping them in an upright position.
I’ve removed or abandoned most of them to their own devices, but suspect that if I pulled the props out from under some of them, that they’d lay over again.

I was surprised, 'cause I’d always read about ‘superior anchorage’ with M111 - but my experiences don’t bear that out.

Even staked, my runty Fuji was leaning badly this year under a load of less than 2 dozen apples. We do have pine voles, and I’m starting to suspect them - good call.

I fear they will be bad this season as I’m already suffering some damage on nursery trees here in NY from pine voles. I’m looking for a legal and effective rodentcide that comes in chunks with holes shaped to fit in feeding stations- no luck yet.

Hard to find the warfarin baits anymore these days

I went with zinc phosphite pellets. I will just place loaded ziplocks in bait stations and hope the skunks aren’t too hungry now that we’ve had some rain, bringing worms closer to the surface. Skunks find their bay into basic bait stations.

The problem is most formulas aren’t legal to use beyond 100 feet from a house or farm structure.

I’m seeing a lot of vole tunnels in my veggie garden and my trees are next to them so I’m ordering some vole killer called Kaput. Hopefully it works on killing them.