Rootstock recommendation Apple with FireBlight reistance

Starting up on a new house project this spring… yes building, moving… not far, just down the road a bit.

But I want to take my Early McIntosh apple with me. I planted it 20 years ago, got it from Starks, not sure what the root stock was… but the tree is 15’ tall and 16’ wide. I will post a picture of it shortly… below. I am sure I just took what ever root stock they offered… knew nothing about that at that time.

When I planted that Early Mc 20 years ago I also planted a Red Delicious… which died 3-4 years later of Fire Blight… and I planted a Fuji next… which died 3-4 years later of FB…

I tried starting several varieties of Pears during that too… all died of FB.

The Early Mc (cross of McIntosh and Yellow Transparent) never showed any signs of FB, and is only minimally affected by CAR. The only pollinator I have had for it for many years now is a crab, but it still produces some very nice apples.

I like the size and (how disease free) this Early Mc has been, and love the fruit. Wish I knew what kind of root stock it was on, so I could use the same to get it established at my new location. I would graft scion wood to that same root stock if I knew what it was.

I have a OGW catalog that list a few root stocks that they use… bud 9, geneva 935, M-7, M-26, M-111 and Antonovka (which is full size 25-35 ft).

It only mentions two of those as being FB Resistant (Bud 9) which is 30-40% standard size and M-7 which is 65% of standard size.

A full size tree is something like 25-30 ft… so a bud 9 tree would be quite small 7-9 ft… a M-7 could be in the range of 13-19 ft.

It seems like my Early Mc might be on M-7 ? Size wise it is 15 ft tall, which is about right for that. It seems to be too tall to be a bud 9. There may not be any way to find out for sure…

I like a 12-15 ft tree, NEED Fire Blight, CAR resistance… M-7 is also listed as being well anchored, widely adapted, winter hardy, resistant to FB, CAR, powdery mildew, and root collar rot. Per OGW.

A google search revealed that there are other root stocks known to be FB resistant, like G16 G30 G202 G41…

I would really like to take a piece of this Early Mc with me, and graft it on to a good rootstock to establish it at my new place.

I am sure some of you folks are very familiar with apple rootstocks - what do you think of M-7 ? and do you know of others that you think would be better.

FYI… I am in southern middle Tennessee, zone 7a. It has to work in the South East.




Could be M7…but I’m thinking MM106?

M7 is fine…tho it does tend to lean opposite the breeze.

G890 sounds promising,but too early to edorse it.

B9 is for those 3 feet apart kind of orchards. G11 M9 and G41 are going to have to be irrigated in dry spells.

I’d do Geneva 969 or Geneva 890. Those are resistant to pretty much everything and will give you a tree 50-60% of standard/seedling. I’ve had good luck so far,but I think Blueberry lost a few budded trees on those stocks if I remember correctly so if you go that route I’d do a whip and tongue graft.

Another option (which I will be trying for the first time this year) would be be to use something like M.111 as a base, then graft on a Bud 9 interstem before adding your early Mac scion.


B-9 may be as good as they come for fireblight resistance, but it’s going to make a very small tree…one I can pick no-ladder.

1 Like

Novamac is one I am ordering to start at my ew location… and the only source I have found for it so far only offers it in Bud 9.

My Early Mc ripens mid June into early July… the Novamac they say ripens Sept… might be a little earlier for me here in the south.

Novamac is very disease resistent…

A smaller tree that I can easily reach (no ladder) for pruning, harvesting, etc… sounds pretty good… but if they are that much smaller perhaps I need two ?

I have plenty of room so planting multiples would not be a problem.

Maybe as a hunter, you won’t have a problem, but shorter trees are a buffet for deer if you have them. My interstems with MM111/B9 are routinely snacked on by deer, which acts like summer pruning to reduce growth, so they aren’t even over 6 feet tall and are definitely runted out.

Found this on MM.106 @BlueBerry

If my Early McIntosh does have that for rootstock… they say it is susceptable to fire blight… Not sure how it managed to never get FB when all the other apples and pears I planted (in same location) died of FB. But anyway… The MM.106 does not sound like something I would want to try at my new location.

I found the source below NMSU giving some details about some of the rootstocks discussed so far…

Budagovsky 9 (B.9 or Bud9): Released from the former Soviet Union. Trees are 25–35% smaller than M.9 EMLA depending on the cultivars. Cold-hardy and resistant to collar rot. Trees need to be supported.

  • G.890: Semi-dwarfing rootstock 50–60% the size of seedling rootstocks. Resistant to fire blight and crown rot. Similar in size to M.7 but more productive and precocious.

  • G.969: Similar in size to M.7 at 45–55% the size of seedling rootstocks. Resistant to fire blight, crown rot, and woolly apple aphids with good cold hardiness. G.969 does not produce as many suckers or burr knots as M.7. Suitable as free-standing trees.

I noticed they did not mention FB resistance for B9.

But I did find a description of B9 from Washington State Univ… that says this…

Dwarfing rootstock resulting from a cross between M.8 x ‘Red Standard’ (Krasnij Standard) from Russia. B.9 has been widely tested and is used commercially throughout the U.S. It is slightly more dwarfing than M.9 and is slightly more productive. Other traits of note: Very early precocity; very winter hardy; little suckering; requires support; adapted to well drained soil; very resistant to crown rot; more fireblight resistant than M.9.

And found this nice chart that makes it a little easier to visualize the actual size of the trees on various root stocks.

1 Like

Is there any suckering around your Early Mac? You could dig a new rootstock from that. If there are suckers that have red leaves, it’s most likely B9.

The variety is often more of an issue for fireblight than the rootstock, since the bacteria is more likely to enter at the active growth or pruned areas. Your Fuji is considered pretty susceptible to fireblight, but early mac is much more resistant, so that might explain the difference in what you experienced with your trees.

I think a lot of the large nurseries sold trees on MM-111 as semi-dwarf, so that is another possibility of what your tree is on.

1 Like

That was certainly my impression, that the rootstock did little (if anything?) to infer resistance to the scion grafted to it.

@zendog — I hear you on the deer issue… I did think about that with that B9 size. I have plenty of deer… So far they have not bothered my apples but they can only get my Early Mc apples that drop from the tree and they do pick those up. They can’t reach the ones still hanging… sounds like they could easily reach B9 apples. That would definitely be a concern.

PS… I have 3 new apple trees now… this spring will be year 3 for them. I got them from OGW… and OGW has only the two rootstocks that mention FB resistance… Bud 9 and M-7. I actually called them to get their recommendation on which would be the most FB resistant and they recommended the M-7.

So I have Akane, Hudson Golden Gem, GoldRush all on M-7 now.
Just measured my Hudson Golden Gem and Akane trees… at 12’ tall. My GR is a bit shorter, perhaps 10.

It looks like the M-7 for me will be tall enough to keep most of the fruit out of reach of deer.

That is my HGG on M-7 after two years growth. 12 ft tall. It has a Goumi on each side of it… then past the Goumi bush is where the Akane and GR is.

“M-7 Rootstock (Semi-Dwarf) produces a tree that is 12 to 17 feet tall (50-60% of Standard) and requires fertile, well-drained loam. Recommended spacing between trees is 15 feet. Trees have fair anchorage but staking is recommended.”

So at least the top ~half should be out of the reach of deer. You may need a ladder or pole for harvest, a ladder for pruning, etc… And note at least the “recommendation” of staking.

As far as rootstock and fireblight resistance, I found this on Good Fruit Grower.

He has found that the bacteria that causes fireblight, Erwinia amylovora, can get to the rootstock by any of several avenues. It can move from blossom infections or shoot strikes to the trunk, and then it moves downward. “Rootstock blight symptoms will generally persist only in the main shank and crown of the rootstock and usually do not progress into the outlying root system or up into the scion,” he said.
“Bacteria move within the vascular system of the tree without causing visible necrosis. Once bacteria gain entry into the rootstock, no treatment is available to prevent the development of rootstock blight.”

Bacteria can enter the rootstock through open wounds or insect feeding sites, and through rootstock suckers, but the most significant source, he said, is migration from infected blossoms in April and May and infected shoots in June.

So it sounds like it’s not so much the rootstock preventing the scion from getting fireblight as it is the rootstock itself succumbing. And if it did that would likely kill the tree. Rootstock + Scion = Tree and I suppose if either “half” were especially susceptible then that could be a recipe for disaster.

@wdingus - the 3 - M-7 trees that I have now… (Gold Rush, Hudson Golden Gem, Akane) after 2 years growth seem to be doing very well. A Picture of my HGG is shown above. 12’ tall after 2 years growth.

It sure does not look like it is going to need any staking, it is quite stout looking… the Akane is a little thinner, not as stout, but just as tall. When I prune them this spring I will take off some of that height.

I am hoping I can get by with out staking them.

Do you know when Staking is needed most on the M-7 Tree ? Is it in the early years ?
Or is that needed more later on once you start getting a good fruit set ?

On that “recipe for disaster”… as mentioned above… I have experienced plenty of that… Over the past 20 years 2 apple trees and I think 5-6 pears all died of FB … usually around year 3 (once they started blooming good).

I did have a Large Bradford Pear 50 yards upwind of my orchard… that I suspect may have caused some of that ? At least I hope so… It got split up by a storm, and I have taken it out.

What type of soil do you have there? How is the drainage?

I may just go ahead and order that NovaMac tree on B9 - that is the only rootstock option for it.
I could protect one tree from deer if I have to.

Could always graft scion wood from it ---- onto M-7, G.890 or G.969 later on to get a larger tree.

I found this comment from a board member in Western NY on the G.890… I have a number of g890 grafted trees that are planted in clay soil. Free standing, good bearing trees with disease resistance in a tree thats about 50% seedling size.

Anyone in TN, Northern AL or GA… Southern KY or NC using the G.890 ?
Or other Apple Tree rootstocks (40-60% tree size) that have shown good resistance to FB ?


@MDL17576 — If you check the Pic of that HGG above… my new orchard will be in very similar place.

It will be in a field just like that, just around the road a bit.

The soil is Good, Clay/loam the first 4-5 inches or so… I have been bush hog cutting the field 2x year for 20 years or so now (since I cleared the land… which was previously in heavy timber)… So 2x a year for 20 years, lots of grass, composted in place.

Once you get past that first 4-5 inches of soil, it turns to a red sticky clay, and has some serious rock in it too.

In my new orchard, I plan to have my dozier guy create me some nice raised beds for planting fruit trees in. I am sure you have seen fields that were terraced… something similar to that… I am going to have him work a 24 ft wide strip — 200 ft long or so… and push the good top soil (4" or so) from the 8 ft on each side of that strip, over to the middle 8 ft, So in the middle I should end up with a 8 ft wide strip with 12" or so of the best soil.

I did that myself with a tractor, disk, and box blade… in my old orchard and it worked well.

With all my borderless raised beds made like that, I have never had any drainage issue.

That bed that I have my HGG apple tree in… is 4 ft wide x 90 ft long… and I have it covered in deep hay mulch now… converting that to wood chip this spring. In my new orchard may mostly use wood chip for mulch around fruit trees.


Sure don’t, that was just a quote I found on a few resellers websites. Typically I believe it’s a relative scale, the greater the dwarfing effect, the more likely staking is needed. With M-7 being ~50% of standard, I suspect it would be fine if it grows straight and is kept pruned to a good balance. All bets may be off in an extreme wind though.

G.890 has been mentioned and this is from WSU in 2017:

G.890 is a larger rootstock. It seems able to scavenge for water and nutrients making it a successful replacement tree rootstock. It is considerably more precocious than Malling stocks of similar vigor. Size/vigor: G.890 and G.210 are the most vigorous of the Genevas. Size is similar to an M.7 but with higher and earlier production. In the TFRC trial, G.890 with fruit was bigger than G.210 without fruit. Resistance: Resistant to fire blight, crown rot, and wooly apple aphid. Nursery performance: Very good. Disadvantages: It is vigorous.

I’m going for shorter trees but also am not keen on having to stake them. G.41/M111 and some BUD9/M111 interstem combinations. You have the advantage of mostly flat ground or so it appears from the images. My trees are on a pretty good incline so I’d prefer to avoid ladders. I have fairly heavy deer pressure, there’s 5 or 6 of them that live in the woods close by, we see them in the yard just about every day. My dedicated orchard area is fenced but they sometimes jump it… An upgrade to that is planned, as soon as the weather is cooperative.

Good luck.

@wdingus … the pic below is showing the point that runs out behind my house… my backyard (part that we mow) ends there… and have some clearing that continues down that point into the woods.

In the edge of the field there… I have a salt lick… and that larger buck was in the lick… the others were waiting their turn.

Yes… we have deer too.

I like them grilled, fried and pressure canned.

They better behave or I will eat them :wink:

PS part of my new orchard area includes some nice flat land… but that flat rounds off to some hillside that slopes to the north in one section and to the east in other places.

I plan to put my apples peaches jplums on that north slope area just below the top… so they hopefully delay spring bloom a bit…

that G.890 is sounding pretty good. Wish I could get a confirmation from someone in the SE (near TN) that is using that.

1 Like

With clay that close to the surface, I’m surprised you haven’t had collar rot issues w/ M.7. The raised mounds/compost in place systems you’ve used sound like they must be very effective at mitigating the drainage. My situation is the total opposite - loamy sand as deep as I can dig. I have 2/19 of my apples on M.7. No restrictive layer in the soil to inhibit root system, but pretty light as soil goes so I’ll be curious to see if they develop a lean as they get bigger.

Be smart to do more than a little studying. The little trees may ride over or even come out of the ground carryiing a crop…or at least bend if they dont break.

Possibly you could plant the B-9 tree so the graft is covered in dirt and convert it to regular size?