Major problem with Geneva rootstocks?


I’m a little confused. Can you clarify for me?

Does this mean you have for example… Baldwin on a self cleft-grafted G202 that didn’t break at the graft union. But the bud grafted Baldwin on G202 by Cummings did break?

I’d check with Dr. Gennaro Fazio. He’s USDA and worked on the Geneva program. Not sure how involved he is anymore, but his name included on much of the current research published regarding Geneva rootstocks. He’s been a good resource when I’ve contacted him, and makes himself pretty available as best he can, though he’s also a teaching professor.


I don’t particularly care for the powerpoint presentations charts, because it leaves out the speech which was based on the academic paper, which help give them context.

The chart seems to come from this paper.- Cornell-Geneva Apple Rootstocks for Weak Growing
Scion Cultivars

These previous research projects indicate that traditional scion cultivars like McIntosh, Delicious, Empire and Fuji the graft union strength of G.41 and G.935 is good. With Gala the graft union strength is intermediate while with Honeycrisp and Envy the graft union strength is lower. When growers plant G.41 and G.935 with scions that have a weak graft union they should use care when planting the trees and they should immediately attach the trees to a trellis. We suggest two-three attachment points of the tree to the trellis (trunk, and lateral branches). Some of the new work we are doing with the application of plant growth regulators in the nursery to strengthen the graft union with weak scion cultivars is promising and we expect to have some recommendations for nurserymen in one year

Basically they intentionally seemed to choose Gala as a test, because it provides intermediate graft union strength. I’m guessing they did this because they wanted sensitive, but not too sensitive to provide usable data points.


It should be noted that even at the four year mark, graft unions for Geneva on semi-sensitive grafts is barely above 50% of their potential strength.


I have had budded trees on Geneva stock, both my grafts and Cummings grafts, break as early as 2nd leaf. On trees that I have cleft grafted on Geneva stock, I have not had graft union failure. The only Geneva stock without failure are 3-4 trees on G16, all in the 4-5 leaf. Geneva stock offers some amazing benefits but is there a problem with the stock and budding as compared to cleft or whip and tongue grafting. That is the root question I’m asking and can’t get an answer to.


Ah… So it’s the type of graft that’s the common denominator then (besides rootstock of course)? If the answer is yes, I wonder if this is just Cummins being sloppy or if it really is that bud grafted is by its nature inferior on Geneva.


Lost a 5 yr. old Golden Russet on g935 last night. That’s 14 trees this year, all on Geneva stock, all 5-6 yrs. old, and all clean breaks at the graft union, all heavy braced and supported, coincidence?? My Stark trees haven’t broke, my pears haven’t broke and my old trees regrafted on m7 haven’t broke. Just Geneva stock that were budded.


Do you have pictures?


I do. I also have an old phone and a newer computer that don’t like each other so they don’t post pictures. I’m also old and tech challenged.:frowning:


All my grafts this year were B.118 and G.890, but the 118s were all low vigor scions. My 890s range from maybe 10” of growth for a couple of runty plants to about 4ish feet of growth for the most vigorous so far; these were all grafted in early April, but some didn’t leaf out until as late as Memorial Day. Most have at least 2 feet of growth, and the best growth is always on plants where I grafted the terminal bud. Most of mine were a sort of improvised-modified cleft graft that worked really well.


Sad and unacceptable failure rate. I need to ask a few more questions. Did you bud graft all of those and have any Geneva from commercial nurseries failed?. Also interested in how the trees were supported.

G935 is now the recommended rootstock for NC based on the NC140 trials. I doubt that most of the new trees planted in NC commercial orchards have been in the ground as long as your trees so and its going to be interesting when the big orchards experience massive failures. I have read about some failures but the problem could be huge!


12 of 14 fails were commercially budded trees, two were my buds. My cleft grafts have not failed.
The trees are supported by 2x2 bracing that runs through and is supported by the deer fencing which is supported by 7’ t posts driven into the ground 2’. The posts and fencing did not fail nor did the 2x2’s. This bracing gave each tree approximately 1-2" of flex. The 2x2 bracing supports the trees to the NW and SW., our prevailing winds.
My biggest exasperation with this is all the failures have been on budded stock and have been clean, almost sawn looking breaks right at the graft. I can’t believe that my location is exclusively that windy for these trees to fail. One tree was an espalier firmly supported away from the other trees. One interesting fact is I have 2 trees on G16 which have not failed, Roxbury russet and Orleans Reinette. Both are next to failed trees.
I would not use 935 on new trees as all my 935 trees have failed at the 5-6 yr mark. Geneva stock which failed, 30, 41, 202, 222, and 935.


Mostly with the G210 but the G969 wasn’t much better results. Not sure what the issue was with these two rootstocks but it’s definitely not going to happen again with me because I’m going to move on and try my hands at some M106 this coming Grafting season of 2020.


@Heirloom Keith, I have been pretty happy with EMLA.106.
@Chikn G.222 too? Bummer, I’ve had disasters with G.210 and was hoping the G.222 would be better.


My best vigor has been on B9, Antonovka, and B118, but so far I’ve not experienced any failures like those Chikn is describing, but, none of my Geneva trees are 5 or 6 years old, either.
G30 and G890 seem to do well with some varieties and not others…tht would be a long research project. G202 seems to lack vigor. G11 and G41 can’t tolerate drought. And G222 I have but one tree.
I’ve had trouble with M111. M106 doesn’t like many locations. M7 leans.
And seedlings vary a lot.


No, I’ve not tried the G222 up to this point. My interest now is leaning towards the M106 seeing how it’s a freestanding semi-dwarf rootstock. Hopefully it’s not going to develop burr-knots or have the leaning tendencies like the M7.


I think there’s been a bit of over reaction in this thread. That’s not to play down the seriousness of what happened to @Chikn (and possibly others), but I feel it’s important to point out that there are two confounding variables: the rootstock and type of graft. If cleft grafting on the same Geneva rootstocks isn’t failing as @Chikn explains, one would assume it’s not inherently a Geneva rootstock problem.

On the other hand, if bud AND clefts aren’t failing on non-Geneva rootstocks, then it does suggest something with bud may be an issue with Geneva rootstocks. However, this may be an problem specific to Cummins bud grafted. Speculating even further, this may be an issue tied to a specific year, grafter, or even technique at Cummins.

There are many unanswered questions that @Chikn experience raises before we can make any determination whether this is clearly a Geneva issue. As harsh as it may sound (I wince at saying this because it sounds uncouth, please forgive me @Chikn ), 20 failed grafts is still a very small sample size. Especially, since Geneva is relatively “new”; any bad experiences are likely to get more attention than the teething problems earlier rootstocks received. (It’s hard for me to imagine if forums and internet accessiblity were prevalent when Malling rootstocks were first introduced, we wouldn’t see the same ratio of issues - not necessarily type - raised).

In any event, this just raises more questions. It doesn’t really send up a red flag [yet].

  1. Do others experience bud cleft problems with Geneva?
    a. If so where were they purchased? Maple Valley for example uses Geneva too, has anyone had failed bud grafts from them?
    b. What cultivars?
    c. Where at they located?
    d. What year of growth were they at?
    e. What type of support did they have?
    I. Rigid? Flexible? (@Chikn setup did have some flex allowance)
  2. Do others experience any issues with bud on non-Geneva rootstocks?
    a-e. same questions
  3. Do others experience issues with cleft or any other grafting methods on Geneva rootstocks?
    a-e. same questions
  4. Do others experience issues with cleft or any other grafting methods on non-Geneva rootstocks?
    a-e. same questions


@BlueBerry what’s been your issue with m111?


Slow to bear…might as well have standard.
And, not winter hardy when in containers in late winter…after sap is up and roots are growing…I’ve had high % losses with potted trees in such circumstances.
(No hardiness problems in==ground…at least not in zones 5, 6,7).


Like others here I have some trees on Geneva rootstocks so I am concerned. I am also keen to get more details about the failures (and successes) with Geneva rootstocks. As far as G30 there is another thread that talks about people’s experiences with that roostock.



mroot, I can keep you updated…but my trees aren’t old enough to know the whole story.


Thanks BlueBerry I appreciate it. My trees are in their 3rd leaf so I am in the same boat unfortunately :slight_smile: .