How should I prune this small apple tree....or not?

We started this from seed less than a year ago. It’s growing like a weed here in southeast GA. I pruned the three main branches couple of months ago, but now there is 10 where there was 3, it just keeps growing fast. Our intention is to use it for root stock, and graft a few different scions on to it in the spring. What is the best thing to do right now, if anything? Should I chop it back again or wait until spring. It’ll probably go semi-dormant in November or so. Just seems to be getting too big. I know our area isn’t the best for apple growing, but people do grow some down here. Any help is appreciated. Thanks, Ed

Ideally you would want 4-5 main scaffold branches all separated vertically by a few inches. But it looks like all your growth is down very low. Lower than I’d prefer for apple.

I agree. I’d be inclined to nip off everything below the level of the lowest scaffold branch you ultimately wish to have least 18". And I’d do some other stuff too, but you’ll get better opinions than I can give you from others!

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I won’t do anything now. Next spring cut off the branches that are too low. Then take out that double leader up higher and cut back the remaining leader to force branching where you want it.


Thanks, got it. So when would be a good time to graft? Should I wait another year until the following spring when the scaffold branches are bigger?

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Next spring I would take the most vigorous variety among those that you want to have on this tree and graft it pretty low on the trunk (5-6"). Then keep removing all growth from the rootstock and encourage good branching on the scion at a desired height. Then in spring 2019 graft additional varieties on main scaffolds.


Hard to see in the pic, but there are the beginnings of 4-5 nice scaffold branches close together off the main leader. Since there is still a couple of growing months this season, couldn’t I prune it now? Ed

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