New Seedling Apples, EIGHT years later! Late October 2019 — SkillCult


Also , last year someone brought to my attention , that apples that have been held in cold storage, have allredy had some / … ( all .? ) of their chill requirement met.
I found this to be true.
Note edit in my post above , from Dirr.


Well, I already knew about the store-bought ones, as I’ve had them sprout within a week or less from time of eating an apple and saving seeds.

(Saved about 11 or 12 seeds from my first Cosmic Crisp the other day…yep, it didn’t know it was limited to 10 seed evidently.) <It was not that exciting an apple, still rather have Fuji or even a tree-ripened Red Delicious compared to the dense/heavy Cosmic Crisp. Since apples are sold by weight and not bushels or barrels anymore, I can see why growers would be excited to offer a shiny red, heavy apple that keeps for months.>

I don’t have that Dirr book, but I have the huge “Manual of Woody Landscape Plants”. It doesn’t cover apple propagation much.

Anyhow, next time I’ll put the seeds in the freezer until spring rather than the refrigerator!
Live and learn.


I have been doing small-time seedling grow-out just for fun. Last fall I saved some KY Limbertwig and Suncrisp seeds in the fridge which I am sprouting right now (KY LT have sprouted and I am waiting on the Suncrisp). I just grabbed scions from trees of three seeds I planted 2-3 years ago today, I wait til they produce normal-looking wood (no small side shoots - that wood is immature growth) and then graft to a mature stock for faster fruiting.

I wish I had land to do more but it is even fun to do the small-time version and it takes very little time.


@BlueBerry I hope that some of your seeds are able to be saved :man_facepalming:


I would not freeze fresh seeds in a freezer, but well dried seeds are probably okay to freeze. I sprout them in fridge storage all the time, some until the root sprouts are an inch and more long and they usually grow fine planted in flats. for planting now, a sunny window will do as long as they get a little light until you can move them outside. The seeds and seedlings can take light freezing and frost no problem.


Very good to know. Thanks!

And, I had wondered if drying the seeds out would reduce their viability…which is why I had gone straight to the refrigerator with them. ? (per the comment “I would not freeze fresh seed”)


I think you will see a little lower success rate using dried seed, but I dont know as I never use it. YOu have to soak it and stratify before planting. another option is stratifying on a cold porch or garage floor, actually in the soil instead of in the fridge. I usually put the see with some damp dawdust and store in the fridge. If it sprouts, I try to plant it before the sprouts are really long. as long as you can keep the seedlings from freezing really hard, they will probably be fine.


Very helpful. Thanks, Steven.


It is that time of year again, -40C outside, Christmas brouhaha done and all I wish to do is curl up and watch Apple videos. Thanks for these videos Skillcult it gives me hope.

My crosses, done with your ‘mixed’ pollen, did well. We had a cold summer so getting some of my more tender apple varieties to ripen was challenging. I managed to cross TrailmanXSkillcult, Sask.PrairieSunX SkillCult, Sept.RubyXSkillCult, and I have those seedlings growing right now.

I cannot do a high volume seedling production but I don’t much care about the odds of getting a good apple, it is all just chance and the anticipation is where the fun is anyway.


Scott, you could try what Skillcult does…graft your little seedlings to B9 of M9 rootstocks. ? Take up less room and results in half the time.


I am grafting them to mature B9/M9/M26/etc stocks (i.e. adding to existing fruiting trees), I find that is the fastest way. But the first time I did it I made a big mistake of putting too many seedlings on one tree and I kept pruning them back since it was too dense and the wood stayed immature that way. Now I am growing them on their own roots until they start producing normal-looking wood, and using only that wood when I graft.


When i was younger everyone smoked so i dumped ashtrays in with my apple seeds as a small boy. I grew lots of apple trees tbat way but unfortunately that apple orchard and peach order from my childhood was lost forever, as were grapes, pumpkins etc. . Big loss to the world in my opinion that can never be made up. My crosses of chickens etc. Have proved irreplaceable. I learned to use ashes to grow fruit trees from my mom who learned it from her Dad which likely learned it from his parents.


about how long do you think average from seed to fruit? So far, I’ve not seen a lot of difference between grafting to foundations and grafting to dwarf stock. If anything, possibly slightly longer on foundations, but about the same and I don’t have the numbers to make much of a judgement. I"m playing with weird ideas to get them to flip the hormonal switch faster grafting to bearing trees. I"m trying to set up some interstems this year as foundations for the future to see if I can make them fruit any faster than just putting them in trial rows. In the past I’ve always grafted out after one years growth so letting them grow longer is an interesting approach. I think it seems reasonable that there might be a way to utilize the hormonal profile of a bearing tree to flip immature wood over into adult mode. A friend was telling me about big operations, maybe at geneva but can’t remember for sure, using fast growth spurts and light manipulation to trick trees into thinking they had grown for several years by the end of the first season. Pot growers here do that all the time, I think by covering large greenhouses and adding light for whatever their goals are.


I seem to have similar results grafting to foundation trees, or possibly slightly slower than on dwarf. I haven’t really been able to compare to just growing seedlings out. I should try planting a row of straight seedlings to see how long that takes. I have some, but they are so crowded and dry that it’s not a fair comparison.


So cool. I’m looking forward to hearing any results you get. I should put together a hardy variety pollen mix, like chestnut, sweet 16, golden russet, etc. Not super hardy, but at least great lakes region hardy is a start to mix with the likes of those super hardy crab types like trailman.


I don’t have any seedlings from intentional crosses yet, although I have a few seeds from one apple last summer. But, having taken cuttings from newly bought trees, some seem to mature faster on a existing tree, (vs a M111 tree for example) but it may be different varieties of apples will behave differently.


I don’t have enough experience to know what the dwarf root vs mature stock difference is, and I made the mistake of grafting as yearlings and repeatedly pruning back the seedling grafts too short where they kept themselves in immature wood. But based on grafts of non-seedling scions they fruit a year or two earlier grafted on to a mature tree as opposed to on a young dwarf rootstock. It sounds like you had the opposite experience with seedlings though.

The main thing I found is to let them grow tall enough, it seems like you need something like 4-6’ of growth above the soil before they start making mature-looking wood. It is easiest to do the 4-6’ of growth when they are self-rooted, so I now prune off any side shoots and just let them go straight up. Once they are high enough I cut off the top and graft. I am now only in the middle of this “improved” system so will not see any results for awhile.

I am also starting them earlier, I have about a dozen seeds going now under grow lights which are 6-8" tall at this point. They are going to get planted out in April at 1-2’ tall and we will see how fast I get mature wood. I usually don’t fertilize so much but I am also going to keep them well-fertilized to get them taller faster. If I could get them to 6’ this year and have mature wood at the top to graft next year, it could be something like three years total to fruiting.


I wonder though if it is just height, or possibly either number of seasons, or number of buds. Someone told me that they would not fruit until a certain number off buds. I have trees with LOTS of buds though that haven’t fruit yet. I’m wondering about using interstems with fruiting buds on them to put between the stock and scion and also various other ways of grafting, on, near or around fruiting wood to try to trick the scion into thinking it’s already part of a fruiting branch. We’ll see how it goes. I’m usually so sloppy with getting my seedlings out and growing early that they don’t put on a lot of growth the first year. Thanks for the details.


That would be wonderful, I certainly would buy that. If it is an acceptable apple I will let you know, I like the look of the leaves so far, they are more like apple and a little less like crab. I am not sure if that makes much difference to the final outcome, but one can always hope.

My TrailmanX Peasgood nonsuch have survived on their own roots for the third winter.


I am trying a new idea this spring … I started some seedlings in Feb or so, I was growing them in the greenhouse but I stupidly spritzed the leaves with some water with fertilizer in it and several of the babies were not happy. One that looked like it was fading still had some good dormant buds at the leaf bases and I budded them on to a mature tree outside:

This was about a week ago, and it is still alive. I am going to try to force this bud in a couple weeks. If this works it will get the seedling on a mature tree one year faster perhaps.