Geneva Rootstock Bark

Thank you Fruitnut! Resting easy!


I agree, I do not think this is fireblight. Some of the scuffs are from a mower but the cracks were after all that rain. The next day after the rain stopped is when I noticed the trunks had split like they had expanded so much from the rain the skin popped open. I know I will not be using Geneva rootstocks though. I hate to lose trees over something like this since at times we do get huge amounts of rain.
Thank you for your opinion on this matter.

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I read that many of the Geneva rootstocks have cracked bark which is normal. The article included some pictures, but I can not find it again.

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The split on this picture from above

looks like it exposed live wood and not just bark below. This could lead to FB infection. When bark flakes there is still fresh bark underneath which has a layer of dead cells on top protecting it. Cracking on the other hand directly exposes live wood.

I don’t recall seeing any cracking like that on my Geneva roots, only flaking.

Here is one such page with a picture:


Good information Scott. I had not seen any information about those type problems with the Geneva rootstocks before I purchased the ones I bought. I thought the Geneva rootstocks were going to be the answer to the particular issues I wanted in a rootstock. I guess it is mostly the “oldies but goodies” rootstocks are the ones I will end up using. If this happens often enough there goes the tree to what you mentioned FB or other diseases. I did replace one of the tree varieties this year. I will get the other varieties on another rootstock in case the Geneva trees die. I hope I can get a few years worth of apples off of them before they die. That will give the other trees I purchase time to get old enough to fruit out. I may have to try my hand at grafting now. Will Mother Nature forgive me for what I am about to try? LOTS of trial and mostly error.


Maybe I’m reading all of this information different then MikeC. But from what I’m reading other then the chance of the tree breaking at the graft, the cracking of the outer bark seems to be the normal and not a death sentence. I think we’ll be ok.


Yes, cracking of outer bark is fine and normal on Geneva stocks but deep cracks are not fine. And hopefully they are not common.

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I hope so too. It just was odd when it happened after the huge rain we had here. I appreciate the info everyone has provided me. I thought for sure these would not even make it through the last winter. Time will tell.

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I’d say all is well with the rootstock growing and shredding its outer bark a bit. My M26 full dwarf trees are doing the same thing. I’ve been in many an orchard and looked closely at the trees there and it’s a very common sight. The one thing I’m seeing with the M26 is it tends to burr knot on its rootstock which are 2 negative things. Firstly, it’s a weak spot and second it’s a possible location for a disease to enter the tree.

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Guess since we are now way ahead on moisture for the year after the past couple weeks…I better go check on my 202, 30, 41 trees. …

Some of those look like sunburn induced peeling.

All my Geneva rootstocks cracked with a large amount of rain in a short period. Let us know what you find.

I’ve had trouble with M 111
not being winter hardy.

But no trouble to date with G-202, G-30, G-41.

And no trouble with Bud-9


Are you sure about M111 not being cold hardy. I have only heard that M 111 is one of the cold hardiest rootstocks around.

@alan often recommends this rootstock. What zone you are in? There may have been other factors contributing to the demise of your M 111.

I can’t imagine M111 not being cold hardy enough for Kentucky, although there are hardier rootstocks, such as Antanovka- but we are talking about hardiness to -50 F for that one. Maybe the anecdotal observation was coincidental. I have read that Rosy apple aphid can suck the life out of 111 although it has never been a problem here in NY and lots of southern nurseries tout the survival abilities of 111. It is its ability to withstand both drought and poor drainage that wins that reputation, though.

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Painting those trees would have prevented this…or no?

mamaung, alan, … no need to marvel…I am in zone 6.

And I lost six or 7 apple trees in March that were outdoors in CONTAINERS.
I lost no trees on other rootstocks whatsoever in that time frame.

We had warm February…and many trees had ‘mouse’ear’ leaves…had broken dormancy in other words.
Those on M111 were lost at high percentage. THEN WE HAD 22 DEGREES and the leaves froze black. And the trees did not resprout even from the rootstock.

G202, G30, Bud9, G41 were fine under identical conditions. (Some of them had not broken dormancy, whereas the M111 had).

Older trees growing in the ground…no problem on M111 or M7 or MM106…just those in containers.

That is interesting, although not very useful to me. My 111 apple trees in containers, and I have lots, are half buried in soil, so never suffer the way yours did, even at below -20F. None of my customers are growing fruit trees in containers as a management strategy, if any do in the future, I will make sure any 111 rootstock trees are managed with their tenderness in mind.

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Alan, the apples in question had already broke dormancy and had small leaves. Then we had a month of weather where often temps dropped below 32…and in one case close to 20. Blackened leaves.
So, it’s just one of those things. I would have though the root would have sprouted back out.

(Still G202 sitting right beside them none died…although they weren’t as far along with the leafing.)

Interesting info. I had not researched the new rootstocks all that well before buying a couple in 2014 from Cummins. I got a Spigold on G30 and a Suncrisp on G202. They are the only young apple trees I have ever had die (other than from deer attacks). I planted 6 other trees on M7 around the same time that have done fine. I did see some minor cracking around the base of one but do not recall which one. Both trees just suddenly turned brown during the summer.

I am not planning to plant more apple trees but if I was, I would not try the new Geneva rootstocks. I feel a little like we have been used as guinea pigs.


Well, I do think if you want the ‘tried-and-true’ you stick with what worked for decades!

But, some of us are adventurous at times…and have the interest to experiment.
I noticed one of my Antonovka rootstocks has red foliage…I plan to grow it out as a tree and see what happens.

Speaking of the Geneva roots…one of their main goals is rootstocks that grow where old orchards have been torn out due to the size of the old trees. Getting small easy-to-pick trees back into production fast…that’s the goal. So, undoubtedly, some of the characteristics the homeowner
would look for in an apple tree rootstock may not have been adequately tested. (So, I can understand the guinea pig comment.)