I did a search, but didn’t find what I was looking for. I’m wondering about biennial bearing habits/tendencies. If I have tree “X” that shows biennial tendencies, and I graft another tree using a scion from that tree “X” will the new tree follow the same pattern as the parent tree? In other words, if the parent tree bears heavy loads in even years, will the newly grafted tree do the same?
I’m asking because there are certain varieties (Keepsake for one) that I’d really enjoy being able to eat from my own trees every year.
34 views and no replies. Must have stumped the group
I’ll take a whack at it. Assuming that the scion goes through a vegetative phase on the new tree, I don’t think that it’s biennial phase will necessarily be aligned with that of the mother tree. In fact, you should be able to control it, by thinning off all the apples until the year you want it to bear.
The reasoning is that the skip year occurs because the tree is too busy growing apples to produce the flower buds for the next year (this occurs by June, I think). So on the new tree, make sure that it has enough energy to fruit in the year you want, by thinning off the flower/fruit the year before.
I don’t know the answer to your question. That sounds complicated. But I think there is a very good chance that you can control biennial bearing by thinning enough. If a tree goes biennial you haven’t thinned enough or you thinned too late.
Thanks for the replies. What prompted me to pose this question is my Keepsake tree. Last year was the first year it bore fruit and this year it didn’t even bloom. Last year it had maybe a dozen fruits, so I didn’t think that was an overwhelming number that would require thinning. The tree was a 5th leaf tree on b118 last year. The dozen or so apples last year should have been reduced to what…4-6?
I don’t have an answer but I can share my experience. Honey Crisp Has a biennial tendency. The first year mine bloomed, all of 3 clusters. I thinned of the fruitlet to 3 apples. The next year it went biennial from a good size tree that bire 3 apples!!!
The next year, 2015, it bloomed profusely. I was ready and thinned so many tiny fruitlet of, 70%, perhaps.
2016 , not a single fruit.
This year, 2017, I was more prepared. I thinned flower clusters off before they even set fruit, maybe 80% off.
I would like to find out what will happen next year.
One thing I have read is that apple trees with a biennial tendency should not be on a vigorous rootstock. Such a rootstock will be hapoy growing vegetatively most of the time and forget to produce fruit spurs.
I don’t know my tree’s rootstock. I could be M7 or M 111.
Honey Crisp on a less vigorous rootstock like dwarf one may not become biennial at all. Also, if you graft a HC scion to a dwarf rootstock, it may not be biennial if you thin well.
That’s hard to say without seeing the tree. And MN is a long ways from TX with a lot shorter growing season. But we just have to accept what nature offers. If a tree is consistently going biennial then we are probably not thinning enough. However I won’t put too much stake in what a tree did it’s first yr of bearing.
Thanks again for the replies.
I will see what happens in the future with my Keepsake tree.
@SkillCult might have input since he has the Frankentree project in his orchard, and it has been going for multiple years.