Remove *all* apple rootstock growth?

I’ve grafted about 24-ish Apple rootstocks (see: Apples tree grafting: Multiple scions on first year rootstock - #21 by schme16), with all but some more recent grafts (around 19 were done mid August, the rest early September) having started to grow very nicely (several centimetres at least).
The rootstocks have also started to put out some small shoots, and for each rootstock I’ve remove all but a single well placed shoot in the hopes of grafting something else there next year.

My question is: How much will it harm the current scions to leave a single rootstock shoot?
Should I remove them all no matter what, or is it not that harmful?
Will I be extending the healing process?
How likely is it that all nutrients will divert, leading to scion death?

Thanks in advance!

As long as the root stock shoots arent dominate over the scion you shouldnt have a problem leaving one. You are rerouting some of the energy that would go to the scion, so it could slow growth to some extent.


I figured it’d take at least a little energy, but I’m glad to hear that so long as the rootstock shoot doesn’t gain apical dominance it shouldn’t take the lot.
The trees themselves won’t be used for anything more than finding good pollen parents for breeding experiments, so I was hoping to save a few dollars (and my already limited yard space!) and graft multiple varieties to each over time, and liked the idea of grafting to the rootstock directly more than top working.


Except that the shoot is manufacturing its own energy and providing some of it to grow more root. As long as it doesn’t shade the scion’s leaves it shouldn’t inhibit its growth, IMO, and if it is harvesting light that would otherwise hit the ground it may be increasing it. That is, the extra root could feed the scion if the sucker was later removed. Also, as long as the tree has access to all the nutrients and water it needs for max growth.


I’d sure hope they are! They’re in great soil, with a nice thick mulch, in a 85-90% direct sun location, and moisture sensor checked every 1-2 days, haha.

I’ll take the responses so far as saying that at worst it may slow the growth of the scion, and at best may even improve it.

I remove “ all” shoots from below graft union on my trees .
Only allowing the scion to grow .
Adding other varieties to the top in the future if wanted.
Prefer one variety per tree.
I would not want a tree that forks low to the ground with multiple varieties. Just my opinion

One wants vigorous growth in establishing trees but only moderate once crops are adequate to fulfill need. Less work and better fruit that way.


The only thing about removing ‘all’ the shoots is that if the graft ends up weak and dying…the rootstock usually dies also
if all growth has religiously been removed.
Just my observation.


Well, I remove all rootstock shoots for a month or so to force all the energy into the scion,
If after about 6 weeks it is obvious the scion has failed , I will let one shoot grow from the rootstock , put that plant in the rootstock section to be grafted the following year.


Some rootstocks
like M7
are a hopeless mass of suckers
Hardly a rootstock I would choose
M26 has just a few.
I don’t think leaving one or two is a problem but separate them after one years growth.

That’s true, although the ones I’m asking about here aren’t grind level suckers, but buds that shoot from the rootstock trunk.

I don’t find that to be consistently true. It is interesting how the same rootstock behaves differently from variety to variety or even within same variety trees. At any rate, trimming growth at the base of trees doesn’t really require a meaningful % of maintenance required of fruit trees in the humid region, or even just the amount of pruning required for free-standing trees.

Once the scion acquires clear dominance it becomes a decreasing problem for individual trees anyway. Sometimes Bet. gets away from me on the first year I’m establishing E.plums in my nursery, or used to. Now I keep an eye on it because I don’t want to wait an extra year to get a tree to sellable size. It’s only a problem with tiny 1-year trees the first season I get them wholesale from my supplier. Most of my apples are on 111 in my nursery and my main problem with 7 isn’t suckering- it is that the trees tend to tip over the first year they hold a heavy crop. However, being more precocious than 111 can be advantageous with slow to bear varieties.

Incidentally when those suckers begin below ground you can use them as rootstock for new trees.

Next year I’ll be grafting M111 with an M27 interstem (@skillcult has a great video: Grafting Dwarf Interstem Apple Trees 1/3: What and why, advantages and disadvantages - YouTube) for this exact reason: strong anchoring root system (and in my case good disease resistance), with smaller total tree size and high precociousness. Seems a winner to me!

I get definitely more root suckers on M111 than any other rootstock…I’ve never had a root sucker issue with my M7 trees planted in 1991.

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Oh 100% M111 suckers quite a bit, but where I am they still end up being the best option:

  • M26 isn’t great
  • M7/M9 aren’t as resistant and can have anchorage issues
  • Geneva rootstocks aren’t available in Australia for amateurs (or maybe at all yet)
  • Ottawa 3 is more for cold zones, and is woolly aphid susceptible (an issue here)
  • M111 single grafted suckers a lot, and grows taller than I like

I’m not too worried about the suckering overall, I’d even be happy to get the “free” rootstocks, haha, but the height is a problem, hence my idea above to interstem a dwarf variety (and M27 is both the most precocious, and easiest for me to buy)

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My experience was that M7 threw a lot of suckers every year.
My trees came from Raintree Nursery.
I much prefer M26, which is more dwarfing
though the trees often lean.