Larger Apple Tree Roostock

I have always loved the old relic orchards, freestanding, large trees, etc. Long life for sure, harder to pick from, absolutely.

However I have grafted my whole orchard onto Antonovka, B118, & Ranetka. I have the ability to purchase some good varieties very inexpensively from a nursery but their standard rootstock is Malus Domestica. I wonder what the difference in disease/growth would be in our more northern climates using a more ‘general’ stock for roots.

Would the Malus Domestica have much differing affects then the other 3? I assume B118 would end up being the shortest of these.

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I am sure others can answer more authoritatively than I…but here’s a start.
The B118 and Ranetka are know entities. And since Antonovka has generally been consistent in reproducing similar winter hardiness from seedlings, it also is a known entity.

Seedlings of all sorts of apples will have all sorts of genetics…and that means some of them won’t be winter hardy in the colder zones. So, many "malus domestica’ seedlings may produce nice trees…but expecting 100% of them to behave as desired would be a stretch on the bookmaking odds.

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What @BlueBerry said - Malus domestica likely just means random apple seedlings. You’re likely to see a good bit of variation among them. The named varieties you listed should prove more consistently cold-hardy, if that’s important to you.

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I’m with you OP on big trees. It’s sad to me that such a huge priority is put on picking fruit and not on the majesty of a full size dinosaur.

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Applebacon: you could have quite the size range on seedling trees. If the seedling stock happens to be a natural semi-dwarf & the scion is too, you get a small tree. If both are vigorous, you’ll get a monster. Since most are moderate in vigor, they will average out to typical standard apple trees.

Then again, you better hope they aren’t Northern Spy seedlings! How nice of they are from precocious parents…

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An associated question - which of the three rootstocks have done better for you as far as watering/drought and making a deep-rooted sturdy tree? I’ve been dithering between Antonovka and B118.

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B118 wont be as deeply rooted, it shines by making a more fiberous root system.

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I am guessing the taproot of the seedlings would be better in old poor rocky hillsides and the like. But, earlier production from the B118.

My nicest root systems from my nursery stock that I moved after grafting them and letting them grow out 2 years before transplanting were B118, they had many finger roots, nice development. Ranetka had generally a very nice tap root style but much less fibrous fingers. As far as vigor the variety I grafted on them certainly varies in strength. The rootstocks of all 3 B118, Ranetka, & Antonovka have all proven their metal well for me on Michigan blow sand. I have watered in prolonged times of drought but last year I never had to water as the rains were consistent & plentiful. I do have 2 trees on sweet crabapple(Malus coronaria) I had gotten some to plant out from a local coop very cheap, 2 were bigger so I decided to graft something to them. they’ve grown very well. I suspect they’ll be shorter in the long run than my others but it’ll give the orchard another dimension.

Man I’m on the fence on this cheap source of tree on malus domestica, such great pricing but the variance could be serious like some of you have pointed out. It gives me confidence though as @smsmith has pointed out (on another forum) that he has used this stock many times in MN and it’s worked comparably.

Any thoughts on your experience @greyphase?

One thing I’ll add about b118 is that it has not done well for me on seasonally damp/moist ground. m111, seedling, and antonovka do much better.

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Yes I have heard M111 is the bigger stock that doesn’t mind more prolonged wet feet.

I don’t have any wet problems where I access to plan on. :slight_smile:

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The reason M111 was never on my radar is the M series from my experience love to throw root sprouts/water sprouts. I have some at my house on M7 and every year I have to cut them things off.

I have had sucker issues with M7, but not with M111. The issue I’ve had with M111 is burr knots. To be honest, I’ve had more root suckers with Ranetka than anything else.

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Funny you should say that about Ranetka. I literally just spent 2 1/2 days out there trimming all my trees that are on that stock. I have very few root suckers I had to sit on the ground and pluck out, I don’t know which trees they were though off hand.

Hey Dan, I don’t have much to add to what’s been said, except that those old 100+ year old majestic apple trees that I also love are growing on seedling rootstock and have survived this long. Your still a “young pup” so if the price is right I’d say go for it and we’ll call it the great AppleBacon experiment. :rofl::rofl::rofl:

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That’s actually a little surprising. I planted 20 trees in 1991, about 15 on M7,
and I cut very few suckers in 30 years. A couple on M111 did get burr knots, but it was not a death sentence to the tree. The three trees on seedling roots are the only ones that look good 30 years later, by the way.
(Well, there is one Fuji on M7 that is still healthy and only leaning slightly…but it’s never had more than a peck of fruit in any year.)

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I have noticed that.
Either damp feet or ‘replant’ disease is hindering B-118 from thriving in a couple spots I’ve planted it.

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I agree with everyone else about using malus domestica seedling rootstocks. I would use known entities. I have 18 trees on m111 here.
I have varying soil around my property and they seem to do well in all types. I have deep sand in some spots and very heavy clay in others.
MM111 makes a large tree. Too large for me so all my new trees are on g890

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Size/ age of your oldest / biggest G890?

I have some, none over 60 inches tall so far.

I have also come to learn that a decent number of my trees on b118 are “leaners”.

I’m just about done with new trees, but any that do get planted here from now on will be on some type of seedling rootstock (dolgo, wild apple, wild crab, antonovka, ranetka, baccata). I know I likely won’t be alive to see it, but I have dreams of huge old apple trees growing here decades from now.

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