Gurneys / Henry Fields Standard Apple rootstock

As many of you know, Gurneys / Henry Fields has apples they described as Li’l Big and as Standard, with Deluxes available of both types.

Li’l Bigs are M27. The company website indicates that “Standard” apple trees can be on either M111 or seedling rootstock.

I was able to get in contact with one of their master gardeners who said that all their Standard trees are on M111 (actually MM111, IIRC), whether normal or Deluxe and irrespective of cultivar and location of the customer.

I thought this might be of interest as the rootstock of their “Standard” trees has likely been a mystery to others just as it had been for me until my conversation with their master gardener.

1 Like

Thanks for the information. I have one of the Li’l Bigs and wondered what rootstock it was on. My Li’l Big is a liberty apple and the rootstock sends up some suckers which I have harvested and replanted and grafted upon.

What has your experience been with the Li’l Big?

For example, how big was it when you bought it (was a regular or deluxe tree?), how big did it grow (and how long did it take to get to that size), how much fruit does it yield, how long did it take to start fruiting, etc?

Has the harvesting, replanting, and grafting of the suckers gone well?

Thanks for posting this I ordered severeal trees from them and have been worried that they are really on standard rootstock. Standard trees are rare nowadays so hopefully they are on 111

The li’l big tree I bought years ago from Gurney’s was a deluxe. I had ordered a standard at that time but they had run out so they substituted the lil big. I wasn’t real happy because I needed the standard due to the deer problem here in the northeast. I planted the lil big in the fenced garden. It has grown very well, is easy to manage, produces annually good crops.

There are very few root suckers from the base of the tree (which now I understand to be M27) but I noticed they could be harvested without too much trouble, and after a year of growing the new rootstock in the ground, the graft took to it well.

Swamps, that’s helpful info to have. Could you fill us in a bit more on a couple of points of detail?

How big was the L’il Big Deluxe tree when it arrived? How quickly did it grow over the first couple of years? How big is it now?

How long did it take to start producing fruit and how much did it produce at first? How did the fruit production change with time (especially the first few years) and how is it doing now?

Also, what kind of apple is it?

Thanks very much!

Orchardman: Have you had those trees for a while or did you just order them recently?

If you’ve had some for a year or more, could you fill us in on your experiences?

Or even if you ordered them recently and have now received them, could you tell us about them (e.g., size, root bundle)?

I have had my lil big tree for about 10 years now. It stands about 8 feet tall now, and is staked with a 10 foot tall piece of galvanized water pipe. The tree grew rapidly, and produced its first crop the year after planting, which was only a couple apples. Thereafter it has been reliably productive.

When I got the tree in the mail from Gurney’s, I remember being impressed with its quality. I would guess the caliper was 5/8 or so. I don’t remember well how fast it grew but I would guess it was fast enough considering my lack of weeding.

If I was starting my orchard over again, I would seriously consider planting these smaller trees and fencing them all in, supporting them with poles or a trellis system. They are much easier to prune and spray than a semi dwarf or standard. More trees fit in a small space so I could have more varieties.

It is a liberty apple. Not my favorite, but good for cider blending.


I ordered one pixie crunch bareroot last year it arrived in May 2014. It seems to be doing well has a lot of new growth on it from last year. I ordered 5 potted trees from them last fall two sweetsixteen and three Pixie Crunch. They had been heavily pruned including the roots! Beware buying potted trees from them. They had them in very small pots. I ordered two more bareroot trees this spring from them. They were shipped in feb and are breaking dormancy. Both had been heavily pruned though.

Has anyone bought the nectarcot from gurnneys?

Here is a Li’l Big Pixie Crunch apple tree I purchased from Gurneys 2 years ago when they were having one of those end of spring 70% off sales. It was planted in mid May which is really late to be planting trees around here but it did ok. Kind of hard to tell from the picture but its probably 6 foot now and is a slow grower compared to my other dwarf trees but has plenty of blooms this year for such a small tree. It seems like a prime candidate to runt out if I allow more than a few apples to develop this year. Hope to taste my 1st pixie crunch this year.

This thread is appreciated, as I have bought trees from Henry Fields.

This year I’m grafting onto some m27 rootstocks, and am wondering how far apart I should space them, in the orchard.

Swamps, could you tell me what kind of spread your tree has?

Many thanks for a great thread.

1 Like

The honey pearls… Yes. I’ll see if I can get a picture. It came as a 5/16 caliper tree, so not big at all. Cut it down to about knee high and it’s got a good structure, just didn’t grow terribly well it’s first year. Hopefully putting it into a pot this season will give it a better jump until I can get a permanent home for it.

I ordered one yesterday.

I’m just curious, what do the leaves look like?

For the life of me I can’t remember. It’s leafing out right now, but just not enough to tell. I can tell you though it doesn’t have a peach/nectarine leaf. I’m thinking more apricot.

The limbs on my lil big liberty apple have spread out as far as 4 feet, but they were overdue for pruning off because the limb diameter became too large. It would be easy to keep the spread of the tree at about 6 feet in diameter. So I would guess a 6 foot spacing between the trees would work well enough. But a 4 foot spacing would probably be the minimum and would probably require more careful pruning work.

The plot thickens…

At the end of March, I sent an e-mail to Gurney’s asking about the rootstock for “Standard” trees. After a few days with no answer I started trying to reach one of their master gardeners. It took a few calls over several days and several messages left before I got a call back. Once I did get called, however, the master gardener was quite helpful. She was the one who said the “Standard” trees are all on MM111.

Guess what?

Gurney’s has now responded to my e-mail back in March. Here’s what they said regarding whether Standards are on MM111 or Seedling root:

“These are grown both ways and shipped at random. There is no way of guaranteeing the item you will receive.”

So it may very well be that Standards aren’t all on MM111 (as their master gardener said) or it may be that they are all on MM111 (contrary to their e-mail response). At this point, I’m not sure what to believe.

They finally responded to me and said they were on m111. I talked with a man that ordered three Sundance trees from Gurneys in 2002 and they are all around 20 feet tall so they are probaly on m111.

It just makes zero sense that they would call M111 seedling stock. I would be inclined to believe that anytime a stock is listed as seedling it would be exactly that…seedling. Seedling is cheap and easy to propagate and is after all seedling stock.


On their website they say they use both M111 and seedling rootstock for “Standard trees;” i.e., some “Standard” trees are on M111 and some are on seedling rootstock.

This led to the inquiries about which trees are on M111 and which are on seedling rootstock.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they have been transitioning over time from seedling rootstock to M111 and are now pretty much exclusively using M111. (Of course that guess could be completely off-base.)