M7 vs M111

My wife is finally excited about me buying a fruit tree! :smile:

She likes crisp and sweet apples and I found Honeycrisp on sale for $17 locally! There are two options, M7 and M111. The spot I have in mind for the tree is about 6 feet from a french drain. I’d like to avoid roots growing into it. Is M7 a good choice in this case?

Also the tree is a whip. What system would you suggest here in mostly dry Bay Area? Open center or tall spindle. I’d really like a compact tree, not too big. Thanks!

m7 grows 65% of a standard tree
m111 grows 90% of a standard tree

M7 is best option for you


For a backyard tree, fitting the space attractively might be the most major concern. In general pruning methods run hand in hand with what you want to demand from the tree. Espaliar forms brings “fun” in the sense of tedious long term commitment to order. A traditional Christmas tree shape is easy to maintain and attractive, but a tall spindle fits a lot of backyard corners better. Training an m7 into an open center shape may make maintenance easier long term by keeping everything within reach from the ground, and possibly easier to spray.

If you’re starting from scratch anyway and want to prune a lot, consider two trees in one hole, to give yourself variety ideally different bloom/ripening times, and to get a little taste of the fruit buying bug.

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I’ve never grown much M7. Reason is it’s reputation for suckering. I don’t have a whole lot of experience with 111 but so far it’s no very vigorous here in a dry climate. I had fruit last yr on a tree 6-7ft tall.

I’ve had great results with M9 and M26 with trees about 8ft tall at maturity.

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The idea that one grows at a certain % of a seedling tree is not really useful because it all depends on which seedling tree and which scion. That whole concept is based on the idea that seedlings are clonal and all scions respond the same way with the same vigor to a rootstock.

HC is not that vigorous so M111 will work fine and will produce a better anchored tree that is harder to kill. It will still start bearing reasonably young because that is the nature of Honeycrisp, although M7 would provide full cropping about a year sooner.

I far prefer 111 because of M7’s strong tendency to tip over when carrying its first crop.


Alan, how about M7+open center? Would that make a stable tree? I worry about M111 roots clogging up my french drain.

How bad is the suckering? I hate that word after taking out all this…


It looks to me like your white pines will have as aggressive roots as anything on 111. I don’t think making the trees open center would help a wobbly tree that much, but not all varieties are unstable on M7.

I’ve no idea of what the affect on the French drain would be with 111 compared to 7. You can use a heavy piece of conduit to stake up an M7 tree and hack saw it away once the trees is 8 or 9 years old if you think it would be safer for your drain. Commercial growers often use this approach with M7 and Adams County nursery recommends it.

Looking at that great space, i see a lot more fruit trees in your future! :cherry_blossom:

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I have two apple trees on M 7. One is 5 yrs old, the other is 4 yrs old. Neither one has any suckers (yet). I have both as open centered.

The way they branch out is bit weepy, not as sturdy-looking as my apple tree (that I think) on M 111. The trunk of both of my M 7 is a bit crooked, not straight up like the M 111. I do not stake my M 7. Maybe, I should but we don’t have strong wind that often and my orchard is in a wind-protected area.

M 7 is definitely shorter, less work on pruning and spraying. M 111 is more work on pruning esp. when I am not that good at doing so.

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What the heck were all those suckers from - didja take out a (Populus) poplar or aspen or sweetgum or something?
Apple rootstock suckering would be nothing like that - all just pop up right at/around the main trunk.

Despite it’s reputation for good anchorage, M111 here leaned to the point of almost lying prostrate over several years time, necessitating that I jack or pull them back into upright position and prop them in place. If I were planting new apples… M7 would be my choice.


I took out the Pines too. They both were leaning and dropping big limbs in the drought.

I bought the M7 one. I’ll stake it with the conduit.

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MrsG, don’t let my wife hear that! :smile:

Thanks @mamuang! I went with the M7

Good guess. There were three 70 ft Lombardy Poplers! Grew that tall in 20 years!!

Another option is to pick up some G.935 and graft the Honeycrisp onto it for the location near your French drain and plant the M7 in another spot for future topworking.

The nice thing about the internet is you get to hear a wide range of opinions- the only problem is that it can be confusing where there is a lot of conflicting anecdotal information. Conditions and cultivar have at least as much to do with anchorage as rootstock, so comparative anchorage of rootsocks needs to be determined by tests of same cultivars on different rootstocks side by side in a range of soil and wind conditions.

In the commercial apple production industry it is easy to evaluate the relative anchorage of rootstocks because growers often use a wide range of rootstocks based on availability. Also, land grant universities do a lot of rootstock comparison.

The following is something the Canadian Dept of Ag published to describe M7 and 111. I’ve often encountered similar discussion of M7’s relative poor anchorage and my own experience has consistently enforced this.

I think either rootstock works fine for home orchards, and that home growers needn’t be very concerned about relative productivity of rootsock- mature apple trees crank lot of fruit on any common rootstock. Precocity can be important, of course, but like vigor, this is also highly influenced by the nature of any specific cultivar.

M.7 (Malling 7)

Released from the East Malling breeding program, this rootstock gives a tree a little larger than M.26 and a little smaller than MM.106. It is generally too vigorous for high density plantings. It is available in various virus reduced states such as M.7A, M.7 EMLA. It performs best on a good soil in a location protected from the wind, in a district with relatively mild winter temperatures. Bud high and plant deeply to improve anchorage and to reduce the strong tendency to produce root suckers. M.7 is a good producer of plants in the stoolbed, but in comparative orchard trials, fruit production on M.7 has not been impressive.

As a rootstock in the orchard, M.7 has a history of poor anchorage, low uptake of potassium and frost-tender roots. Fruit production is relatively light for the first 10 years, after which ladders are needed to pick the fruit. Except where previous experience has been favourable, growers are cautioned against making extensive plantings on M.7.

MM.111 (Malling-Merton 111)

This tree is about the best in this class, although tree size is about 80% of standard. Though slightly more vigorous than the old M.2, the anchorage of MM. 111 is better and the tree seems adaptable to a wider range of soil conditions. Commercial stocks of MM.111 are virus-free and appear resistant to collar-rot.

Right you are, Alan.

I picked M9/M111 as the predominant rootstock for my site - good clay soil, high water table, exposed site with a lot of wind - due to recommendations, at the time, for it providing excellent anchorage. Just didn’t perform as advertised for me.
Trees on M7, M106, and at least one on M26 have all shown anchorage superior to those on M111…here.

Ah the old 9-11 interstem. I used to get Baldwin apple trees from Cummins with that and with Baldwin it works perfectly well, but the more vigorous the tree the more likely it will anchor well, I think. Baldwin is quite vigorous.

One of the Cummin’s Baldwins is on one of my windiest sites where most of the '7s had to be propped up at some point. Not only is it windy but it has a silty loam layer over sand that interferes with drainage (that may sound strange, but it has to do with capillary pull). The Baldwin stands straight and strong without any extra help.

Over the last couples years I have ended up with a lot of M7 from Cummins and their subsidiary OrangePippinTrees.com in selecting for semi-dwarf roots based on scion availability. The trees on M.7 sure are vigorous growers in their first and second leaf. But on my site (a wet-ish to cringe-worthy hydric backyard) M.7 and G.935 appear to be of the same vigour, but all are different scions.

I have also spoken with the local u-pick grower and he didn’t have much redeeming to say about M.7 either. I gathered they had significant experience with M.7. I believe the gist was that it was too vigorous, fireblight prone due to vigor, and too big of a tree for a U-pick operation. Though there aren’t many trees leaning on his site. Like everyone else, he was moving to some sort of low trellised orchard on dwarfing rootstocks.