I need a reality check - Is this the right root stock for me?

I’m in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, west of Portland, Zone 8b. This would be for family eating and cider making.

The amount of apples I’ve hunted for and forced my family to taste test is comical. My kids are over it, but my husband has never said no to a good apple. We have 60lbs of Matsu and Goldrush in the cold storage from our latest excursion.

The varieties I’m looking at:

  • Honeycrisp
  • Matsu Crispin
  • Goldrush
    *Evercrisp

My family likes apples with crunch. My husband is a big fan of the Honeycrisp, so I’ll deal with thinning the buds and whatever else it needs. Matsu is so darn good; I don’t care if it doesn’t pollinate anything else. We are lucky where we live; neighbors have old apple trees on either side of us, and the hedges have forgotten apple trees coming through; you can’t throw a rock without hitting an apple tree in our area. We have mason bees and plan on putting in a honey bee hive next year.

The place I’m looking to plant is a 20’ x 40’ area, full South facing, slight hill. The project now is bringing in 6 yards of compose to amend the sole, as we have a lot of natural clay. I plan on staking/trellising, and we’ll be building a deer fence, as they are a constant fight.

What I’m looking for advice on, I initially thought was going with G.41 & G.214 rootstock, and doing higher-density planting. But as I start planning my tree order, I’m wondering if it would be better to go the G.969 size, and just have less trees?

Thank you in advance!

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You could do 24 trees on G41…12 trees 3 feet apart times 2.

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G.41 is productive for its size, that’s for sure.

Supposedly it requires cleft-type grafting and not budding to avoid branches shearing off.

If there’s a particular variety, you want I would plan on planting 3-4.

Otherwise, it would allow you to experiment with multiple varieties.

As always, but especially with a dwarf variety like g.41, I would not let the trees bear a single fruit until they were 2/3 what you would consider minimum acceptable final size. After that I would still thin VERY aggressively for a couple of years afterwards.

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Probably especially true for Goldrush, which can’t wait to start overproducing and stunting itself.

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It did for me, yes. That’s how I learned my lesson.

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Good advice, a friend with the OSU gardeners also warned me of this: to not allow any fruit to set.

I guess because of the brittleness of G.41, what has me wavering doing less trees, going with G.969/G.210 and spacing out accordingly. I know G.41 is primarily for farm production and I’m trying to be thoughtful about what is best for our backyard. Trees are committed, I don’t want to pick the wrong one, then the other half of my brain tells me there probably isn’t a ‘wrong’ one, lol.

I just haven’t heard as much of folks growing G.41 at home.

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In the space you mention the G.890 semidwarf would easily fit 4-6 trees and they don’t need staking. I have one now planted in 2020 with a number of varieties grafted. This year I harvested my first apple from last years graft. I have not been concerned about letting it fruit! It’s doing great.
Dennis Kent, wa

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It is my understanding that G-41 is primarily for trellis systems. Freestanding it would need to be well staked forever. Basically any rootstock can be maintained to the height and width you desire. It is more a question of fighting excess vigor. I just planted 35 trees on G-969. They are 12 feet apart and I plan to grow them on trellis and maintain them at six feet height. Supposedly G-969 left to its self would grow to 50%. That would give trees 15 feet tall. Really it is the pruner that maintains the tree, in harmony with the rootstock.

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In my area of the South Shore of Lake Ontario it seems as though the commercial growers are growing on 2ft centers now mostly. Not sure of the variety’s though. Spacing of rows is ?. Everything is fenced and on 4 wires.

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I hadn’t looked at G.890 thinking it was much larger, but it is in the same range but slightly bigger than G.969 and G.210, I bet with pruning, I could keep them relatively the same.

Looking at what is in stock now, I think I’ll order (spring 2024) Goldrush and Golden Russet on G.890. Honeycrisp on G.969 (supposed to reduce biennialism in Honeycrisp).

Then have the following on order for 2025, all on G. 210, Honeycrisp, Matsu, and Golden Russet.

Also ordering some rootstocks to have on hand.

Of course, there are dozens of other nurseries if you prefer to get your other trees sooner.
Not on G210 probably though.