I started my espalier project with some very small grafted trees from Cummins in spring of 2014, so most of my 7 trees have been through 7 seasons at my place. Some of them have died and been replaced, but in general the project is coming along ok.
This last season was tough. The trees grew pretty well and no major disease problems, but the squirrels were out of control and took or destroyed 90% of the fruit before it was ripe, despite me trapping them vigorously which has in previous years been enough to save most of the apples. What was left was riddled with bug damage - not sure what kind but it left those small and numerous brown spots just under the skin. So pretty disappointing from a fruit perspective. Not sure what to do about the squirrels, but I’ll try spraying Surround next season to see if I can make some headway on the bugs.
Here is Roxbury Russet on G11/M111 interstem, spring 2020 and winter 2021. The top two rungs are grafted to a found variety from Maine my friend Ben and his parents call Indian Point Russet. This tree is well behaved and fruits reliably. One issue I have with it is that it doesn’t have very many leaves and shows little inclination to put off new shoots from the laterals. That makes it easy to prune and keep in bounds but it seems to lack the vigor and sheer photosynthetic power to ripen many apples. I tried inarching a piece of rootstock to add more vigor but it didn’t take.
Next is Goldrush on G11/M111 with a piece of G935 inarched to add vigor. Top two rungs are grafted to Centennial, which has a much different type of leaf; quite weepy looking. Goldrush is fantastic - this tree has grown at a reasonable rate and been easy to train, and fruits reliably. The apples do take until the bitter end of the season to ripen, so it is hard to keep the squirrels off. I have not had any fruit yet from the Centennial part; there were a couple this year but they got taken by squirrels (you can see a couple flowers on the left of the top rung).
Next is Sweet Sixteen on G30. This is the one tree in my lineup that has too much vigor - it wants to grow wood and not apples. It is certainly the most burly and well developed of the trees, trunk is probably 60mm diameter. Middle rung is Bramley’s Seedling and the top two rungs are Reine des Reinettes. In spring I tried scoring the trunk with my grafting knife and putting some notches below branches to help convince it to fruit more. There were a couple apples on it but they got taken by squirrels.
Next is a King David on G222, but grafted over to Wickson above the second rung. This tree was originally a Wickson but I killed it by painting straight neem oil on the G11 interstem in August some years back. So this one is younger than the three previous. I want to form a heart shape in the middle of this tree. I was living overseas for almost a year during the forming of the heart so it really got away from me. Should have just cut it back and started over but instead I tried to shape the hardened limbs last spring using saw cuts, etc. It certainly helped but it still looks wonky. The Wickson part of the tree had quite a few apples but they were mostly shot with bug damage. You can also see the lower left lateral is too weak and underdeveloped. I tried to notch above it in spring but it didn’t seem to make a lot of difference. The Wickson is much more vigorous than the King David part, so it would have been better to have their positions inverted.
Here is some healing saw cuts in a place I tried to bend more. The cambium ended up dying in between the cuts in this and other similar places, but more than half is still alive so it will probably heal over eventually.
Next we have a Redfield on G935, grafted to Hoople’s above the first rung. This tree replaced an Opalescent which got absolutely destroyed by fireblight. It is growing slowly and doesn’t look like much yet but I guess it will eventually get there. It is hard to be patient Lower left lateral needs some help - this is another one where the variety on top seems more vigorous than the one on the bottom and thus exacerbates the existing tendency in this direction from apical dominance.
Next is an Ashmead’s on G11/M111 interstem which has been there since the beginning but had slowed down to a standstill. So I inarched a piece of G30 to see if that would juice it. It has grown more since then, though I also added drip line for watering. Third rung up is supposed to be Pitmaston Pineapple, but there were some apples last season and they really looked like Calville. I’ll have to ask the squirrels how they tasted. Above that is Chestnut. The left side lateral fifth up from the bottom is not really formed; I think I’ll cut back to that point and let it try again this year.
Last up is a Goldrush on G222, so far unmodified by grafting. I planted this to replace a Tydeman’s which was severely damaged by fireblight and had nearly runted out anyhow. Given the excellent qualities of fruit and tree I observed on my other Goldrush, I wanted more of that action. I’d may graft the top, we’ll see. I do want to try Rubinette someday.