New apples on M111 stopped growing, now suckering

In late January of this year, I planted two Dave Wilson apples on M111 (a Gala, and a Sierra Beauty). I’m planning to fan-espalier them, so cut them down to about 16" tall. Weather was typically mild for the Bay Area, and they began growing nicely. But by around early June, they totally stopped growing and haven’t put out a single leaf since, and now I notice that they are suckering from the rootstock.

FWIW, soil is on the clay side but does drain reasonably well. I’ve been watering weekly. No fertilizer.

Pictures below are the Sierra Beauty; the Gala looks nearly identical. Help?


My M111 tend to send up sprouts also. I let them get about 1’ high and pull them to the side and most will snap off. Be careful pulling on a tree that isn’t established. The sprouts with roots can be potted and used for grafting if your so inclined.


I have started planting these with the union just slightly above the soil level in hopes that this will prevent sprouting. The ones that have Bud 9 interstems have the M111 graft union about 2" below soil level.

Thanks Bill, I like your suggestion to let the suckers get a little taller before pulling them out; I’ll give that a shot.

I’m more puzzled and concerned about the fact that the grafted part hasn’t grown at all for two or three months, not a single new leaf. Something that I should do or that I need to check?

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It’s normal for apples to set a terminal bud and stop growing sometimes pretty early in the yr. This is esp true of newly planted trees. Once they stop they usually don’t start again even with lots of water and fertilizer. This is one reason apples are more hardy than stone fruits which keep going unless it gets very dry.

The tree is still growing roots. If you want more top growth next yr keep them growing with water and fertilizer. The roots it’s growing now will allow the tree to support a bigger top next yr.


I’d be worried too. I’ve never had that trouble with M111 in my locale.

Thanks, that’s reassuring to know. And it explains why the pluot right next to the apples is still growing robustly!


M111 suckers badly here. It’s a never ending battle.


Well, it’s now well into spring (with locally typical spring temperatures in the mid-60s), and virtually no growth from these new apple trees. Plenty of fat buds, and a few popped out some leaves over a month ago, but there’s no actual growth and most buds just sitting there. Any advice (or reassurance that this is normal)?

My apples on M-111 in San Diego county over the years have absolutely loved the rootstock. In fact mine bloom and produce nearly continuously. I also sold well over 500 apple trees on M-111 to SoCal customers and never had a complaint. There are numerous apples on M-111 NE of you performing well. On the other hand there are folks here east of the Rockies for which M-111 has been nothing but trouble.

@fruitnut gave you some great advice to start feeding your trees. Have you done so? Home Depot sells a granular (not spikes) fruit tree fertilizer under their Vigoro brand which is ok for apples.

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In the bay area I have about a dozen various apples on third leaf with m111 roots planted in heavy gray clay. There are several that are still in a slow growing stage just like yours. I am expecting them to kick their growth up a notch when we get a hot spell.

It looks to me like there is chlorosis appearing on a number of your leaves.

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I’ve actually not started fertilizing this season … my bad I suppose, I’m just in the habit of fertilizing after I see some growth start. Just to recap the weirdness, I planted these in January of 2017, they grew through June 2017 and then stopped growing entirely; it’s now been a year and they haven’t grown at all. It’s funny, I was originally concerned that M111 would be too vigorous for the smallish espalliers that I envisioned, and now I’m concerned about having no growth at all! Anyhoo, I’ll give a go with some fertilizer and keep watching and waiting I suppose.

I’ve upped the water and fertilizer; now getting some very robust suckers growing from the rootstock, but still no growth on the scion. Well, not quite no growth; it is slowly producing small and weak leaves, but they are coming right on top of each other with no stem growth in between. I don’t know much about how growth regulating hormones work, but my uninformed guess at this point is that there is some hormonal suppression going on. Does that sound possible? Treatable?

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