Questions about apple tree maturity

Hello. I have an apple seedling that is 4 years old… I would like it to mature so I can see what the apples are like but I would also like to graft some branches.

I have not pruned it much, thinking that would help it become mature. Is that correct? Or will promoting vigor with pruning help?

I would like to graft another seedling onto it that is growing by the side of the road. I don’t really know much about apples, but get the impression that it is disease resistant because the apples I collected were blemish free. But, they only formed at the top of the tree and that got me thinking… do I need to climb it to collect mature/fruiting scionwood or will low branches and suckers work just as well?


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Here is a video on how to collect your scion wood from your seedling tree you are wanting to graft onto your other tree.

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Any branch will work. But based on my limited experience if it is a young seedling I would get as high up as you can. I have some seedlings I grafted to another rootstock and they grew all these little side shoots for 3-4’. They didn’t grow normal looking scions until higher than that. I was pruning them back but they kept growing more little side shoots. It was only when I started to bend them over that I got fruit buds. A few are hopefully going to finally fruit this year.

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I will add that some trees (not sure if this is true for apple) do have one phenotype on mature wood and another on immature wood. The classic example is honey locust which produces thorns up to the height of the Pleistocene mammoths but in the upper branches they are thornless. Hence you can graft that wood to a seedling root or root it and you get a thornless honey locust to plant in your yard.


That’s very interesting- I had no idea!

On my apple seedlings I clearly observed a difference in the type of wood on the lower vs upper. Just based on my observations I would say they are having the same phenomenon as the honey locust.

Thanks guys, I got some scion today and will try grafting tomorrow.

Good news everybody! One double cleft graft took, and my seedling has a dozen flower buds. I grabbed a few crab apple buds (which are almost done blooming) and put them in the fridge to pollinate them.

I had a whip and tongue graft fail, still have a couple more sticks to try again on that branch if it is not too late.

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