Close spacing of apple seedlings

What would happen to a row of apple seedlings (not grafted) if they were planted 4, 5, or 6 feet apart? Would they ever fruit? Or would they kill each other? I realize when you look up standard rootstock apple tree spacing they say 25 feet. They are seedlings from seeds of apple fruits i believe were interesting crosses among trees i have. For whatever reason I don’t want to graft onto dwarfing rootstock.


You can do that for a few years and get fruit. Look up Skillcult on YouTube and you can see in some of his apple breeding videos where he has the seedlings like 2-3ft apart. He trials their fruit and determines which have promise and which need to be thinned out to make room for the next generation.


I have seen some of his videos but I think he grafts onto dwarfing rootstock and then replants in close spacing. But I guess the original seedling row must remain too.

Oh, I haven’t watched them in a while but that sounds more likely to be the process because standard trees can take years before they fruit. He probably grows the seedlings out for a year or two and then grafts a scion over to a dwarf rootstock and gets rid of what remains of the seedling at his leisure. I don’t have time to go back and verify all of that but still curious to know.

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Well, I guess to answer your question, what might happen, absent human intervention, is the more vigorous seedlings would crowd their neighbors out and thin the row out naturally. You might even see some cool inosculation happen.

I believe you are correct about him grafting his seedlings to dwarfing rootstock. If I’m not mistaken it was bud 9

I think you will be just fine. As long as your saw skills are good. You can make them do what you want.

With enough pruning you can do what you want. People have been growing espaliered/Belgian fences for longer than we have had dwarfing root stock.