Malus fusca rootstock project

Someone is evaluating Malus fusca graft compatibility in a systematic manner.

M. fusca project report to date

I am trialing two cider varieties on it here in Iowa. It is planted in the wettest spot in my yard.

We shall see if it is truly Zone 5 hardy. I tried to plant it with the graft union relatively low. Seems compatible with Yarlington Mill and Kingston Black so far.


Thanks for posting this Drew. I heard about Malus Fusca several years ago but since I’ve been container gardening, I never gave it a try. However, we recently closed on an island property with some seasonal wetlands adjacent to the small orchard. I will probably start grafting some desserts next Winter. I have heard that it does like to sucker and grows spines. If that cojld only deter the deer!

I appreciate the link to the study. I intend to try something very similar with a pair of malus fusca. Did you make the two grafts simultaneously or wait between grafting the interstem and final scion?

I did not use an interstem between the scion varieties and M. fusca. I don’t think there seems to be a need. They seem pretty compatible. Neither broke off during our 130+ MPH derecho in August, and one was severely bent over by debris rolling over it.

However, the trees on M. fusca are a complete bust for me and I am planning on replacing at least one tree next year. The Yarlington Mill I have has not grown more than an inch in two years after planting. The Kingston Black tree grew a little the first year but did nothing this year.

My soil is high pH (7.5 ish) and has a deficiency of zinc. M. fusca as rootstock doesn’t seem to tolerate these soil conditions, and that isn’t a surprise given their ecological niche. I may dig them out and move them to some wetlands my aunt owns for the animals to enjoy.

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That’s a good piece of information. Perhaps my strategy should be to first see if the rootstock thrives. My soil pH is ~6.5. It has poor drainage in the spot I am considering but I would nit call it a wetland.