Culling Nursery Trees

I’m going into my second year of growing apple trees from my own grafted trees. I started with about 100 apples grafted onto M111 and Bud9. Almost all of the trees have made it thus far but not all have grown at the same rate within their rootstock and scion category. E.g. some M111 Macs are smaller that other M111 Macs.

Now comes my question:

At what point will home orchardists and professional orchardists cull smaller trees, or does that not happen?

Thanks for any thoughts!



Speed of growth is not the only criteria, and sometimes fast growth can be too fast for the purpose.


The variance in growth must be quite extreme if it’s making you think of culling some of the smaller ones. Are they just so runty that they don’t seem worth your time, or do you simply not need that many trees and are just looking for an excuse to keep the best and toss the rest?


Good response. Thank you

Thanks for the reply!

They are about a 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the average. I want to grow more variety this year, and am not too concerned about space, but was interested in what the parameters were in growing nursery stock, as it related to growth in a specific (yet to be defined for me) amount of time.

When? Last year! I hacked around in my nursery chopping at things. I wouldn’t call it culling, just trying to kill off some time wasters- namely rootstock that needed to be regrafted because of original graft failures. I have probably planted around 100 apples on 8 different rootstock.

Space got limited and I haven’t had time to manage weeds/grass in the nursery. I also realized that diversity of roots is probably going to cause challenges…. But I’m still having trouble paring down. I want all those varieties. I bought a couple more bundles of M111 to try to get standardized onto just one main root for the orchard.

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Standardizing rootstocks sounds like a good idea. Might help keep it all a bit more straight forward for myself. Thank you for the reply!

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In many nurseries it is typical to cull any undersized plants to produce large amounts of a uniform sized crop for sale. However, for smaller nurseries who turn less volume (like me), having a crop reach salable size unevenly, over a longer period of time can work fine too. It depends on what your needs are.


That makes sense. Thank you