Partial tip-bearer as espalier?

I Planted a few rows of espaliers without much knowledge about rootstock or the varieties that would do best. If I had found this board I might have avoided a few mistakes but, I had a hard time connecting to a community when I started planting my orchard. Anyways, I am now questioning some of the varieties I planted as espaliers this spring. I am wondering if I should dig them up and try to train them as free standing trees this fall. Apparently, Arkansas Black and Bramley are Partial tip-bearers. Should I dig them up?
I also planted as espalier: Calville Blanc, Spitzenberg, Suncrisp, Roxbury Russet, Jonagold, Stayman, Cox’s Orange pippin, Brestark. Mostly on M26 with a few M111 rootstocks.

Partial tip bearing generally means that a tree CAN bear fruit on last years wood (which includes Jonagold, incidentally). Many varieties that do this are superior selections for espalier production, IMO, because what you want are varieties that love to fruit. I hope Ark Black is one on 111 because it is a spur monster that dwarfs itself in my nursery with its propensity to early fruiting- even on this rootstock. 2nd year trees get overloaded with fruit.

I hope you keep them all in the ground and let us know how they all compare. You can always graft to make productive changes later.


Thanks Alan. That is great news. It would have been very sad digging them out after starting to shape them into espaliers. I am also questioning my self about rootstock. M26 is susceptible to fireblight and has some compatibility issues. The Jonagolds have a nasty knot at the graft union on M26. I am now using G41 for trees that will be planted as espaliers. G41 is fireblight resistant but seems to have a wimpy root system. I suppose at some point you just have to wait and see what works.

I don’t know your location but 26 is usually fine here although I’ve seen more FB here in southeastern NY in the last 2 seasons than the previous 23.

A nasty knot does not necessarily mean a detrimental incompatibility. I’ve had trees snap off on G30 that showed no previous signs but the snap clearly showed a weak union.

Thanks for reassuring me Alan. I thought I spotted a few fruit spurs when I was out shaping them. It would be great to get a few apples next year.

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I have grafted Jonagold onto at least three different apple varieties and all of them tend to have knots/enlarged unions. They all appear to be otherwise healthy. Good luck, Bill

Your orchard looks great! G41 does seem to have a more brittle graft union. In a U Marlyand study, they lost a bunch of the trees on G41 during a big storm. Since your trees are securely tied to the trellis, the fruit load will be balanced left and right, so the brittle graft union may not be a problem. I don’t have trees on any Geneva rootstock because the varieties I wanted sold out very early. Everything I have is on B9, but all the research I have seen show the Geneva rootstocks to be a lot more productive, so I going to have to graft my own trees to fill out my rows.

I noticed the herbicide band down the tree rows. Can you share the herbicide you used? I can not tell from the picture, but was some type of cover crop burned down, or is that just dead grass?

Cannot wait to see pictures in three years! Will you have apples! :smiley:

I am hoping to plant the trees a little tighter on g41. I want to collect allot if vetietys and this gives me a way to do it without raking up to much space.

Herbicide is just glyphosate (roundup). I also use it carfully in the nursery where the trees are spaced a foot apart. I have never lost a tree due to overspray and it neutralizes when it hits the ground. I did notice more resistant weeds this year.


This my Arkansas Black espalier. Bearing habit is compatible with espalier.
It is on G11 rootstock which has similar precocity to M26 . See description below

Rootstock G.11
Resulted from a cross of M.26 and Robusta 5 crabapple and introduced in 1993 by the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva, NY. G.11 is one of the more vigorous dwarfing rootstocks and produces a tree similar in size to M.26. It is precocious (similar to M.26), moderately resistant to fire blight, moderately susceptible to woolly apple aphid and crown an root rots, and requires trunk support, especially in the early years. It produces few burr knots and root suckers. G.11 has not been widely tested and is being evaluated in an NC-140 trial that was established in 2010.

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That’s a really nice fruit set. I am interested to know how old the tree is, the spacing you are doing on G11 and the height of the wires.

That is amazing fruit set. You have better fruit set than my 10 year old ‘Enterprise’ apple.


The tree is third year in the ground in my orchard. Planted bare root .

The wires start at 20 inches off the ground then at 18 inch spacing for a total of 4 lines. That is only 74 inches tall for the 4th line. Easy to add a 5th at only 92 inches (less than 8 feet) off the ground which makes it easy to handle.

Spacing is not that critical with espaliered trees. Remember, with espaliers, we control the spread of the tree branches. Technicaly you can plant 2 trees within a foot of each other and allow each tree to spread only to alternating wires. Or each tree allowed to spread in one direction only. The beauty of espalier is that if you find one variety that you like more than the one next to it you can let its scaffold continue to spread into the “territory” of the other. On a couple of mine I allowed the scaffold from each adjoining tree to keep spreading and I tied both scaffolds to the same wire.

See the drawing below for just one method I designed for a small 25 foot espalier with 4 trees. Your imagination is the only limitation.

Enjoy flexibility of thought… rigidity of thought is the enemy.



Wow! I imaging how your orchard will look like in a few years. Must be beautiful and plentiful!

Aaak! I’d advise adding at least twice the number of T posts. Your rootstocks are not self-supporting, and you’re creating giant sails that tend to snap off at the graft union just as they are all maturing and are loaded with fruit. I’ll be able to hear the sobbing all the way from California.

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That photograph is my nightmare! Did that happen last winter? I am so sorry. Did they survive replanting?

October 2011, 18" of wet sticky snow. 350 12-year-old trees either uprooted or snapped at the graft union. It was a total loss. This was at Cold Spring Orchard in Belchertown, MA.

By the way 39th, your orchard is beautiful. You’ll be able to tend it even in a wheelchair.

The clouds make me long for fall weather, 103F here today again.

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That storm knocked down lots of apple trees here, but on more vigorous root stocks all that was needed was to prop them back up. Most trees never skipped a beat. It was a long time before we had power, though.

I actually propped up some 100 year plus antique apple trees with a crew and secured them with duckbill anchors. One tree almost killed me, though, when we tried propping it up with a make-shift crane and the roots snapped as I was standing right under it. I was just plant lucky it missed me. The tree is still growing form the broken stub that remained.

That orchard just looks so very, very, utterly, horrifically wrong. I audibly gasped at the unexpected sight of those trees, fully leaved and laden with fruit, massacred by snow.

Though it’s not something that would affect me, thank you for the warning. You may have saved some growers from an unexpected, but preventable devastation.

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