Rootstocks - the key to growing fruit successfully

I’ve not seen a lot of posts in regards to all the new rootstock that have been available this year. Cummins is offerring a lot of different apple rootstock in 2016 and I’m sure other new types are just around the corner. Many rootstocks offer improvements against disease and environmental factors Cummins offers some of the rootstock that resist serious diseases such as collar rot and fireblight. There are many other new rootstocka Cummins does not offer yet which I read about here . I was considering a rootstock discussed by PSU for my new apple orchard such as " Geneva 890 (G.890)
Geneva 890 (G.890) is a semidwarfing rootstock about 50-60% size of seedling that is resistant to fire blight (Erwinia amylovora), crown rot (Phytophthora spp.) and woolly apple aphid with good cold hardiness. At this time production of root suckers and burr knots is unknown. Tree size is approximately the same as M.7 to MM.106 but with yield efficiency similar to M.9. higher and earlier production. Rootstock was released for use as a free standing tree for processing orchards or with a weak scion cultivars." We can find downsides and upsides to every rootstock. Cummins had advised reviewing more rootstock details at this link. . The thing I like about Cummins is if I want a rootstock or two for evaluation I can pick them up there without needing to buy a bundle of 50 like with the places I typically deal with. A great place to get scions and rootstocks typically after December is here . The nwcider group was formed in 2010 and has done a great job with everything I purchased from them! We will see what rootstocks they offer in 2017. For my larger rootstock orders I’ve had very good luck with . Copenhaven is offering another rootstock I considered for my new apple orchard which is " Geneva 935® [40-50% size of standard tree] Semi-dwarfing stock similar in size to M.26. Most precocious and productive of the semi-dwarfing rootstock. Cold hardy and highly resistant to fire blight and crown rot." G935 rootstock is also offerred by Cummins in small quantities.


So far, G.935 looks to be my favorite semi-dwarfer.

I have a Goldrush on it, and the tree is beautiful. Branch angles look nicely perpendicular. Good blight resistance. Will grow roughly 12 feet high; wider spreading than most other semi-dwarves, which I appreciate; precocious; productive; accommodates strong graft unions; resists crown rot; adaptable to heavy clay; vigorous. What’s not to like?


Thanks for the links Clark.

Regarding Cummins, I have a check-out cart on their site of possible candidates for next year’s purchase. Quite a few of them are on G935. I’ve heard good things about this rootstock, and think it’d be worth a shot here. Its only shortcoming is that it’s not resistant to WAA, but don’t think that’s a big enough reason to not try it.

@blueberrythrill linked a NC State video about various RS trials, and they really liked G935. Of course, that is for that location, and doesn’t mean that it’ll do the same in other locations.

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The testimony sounds great Matt. These new rootstocks sound like the best we’ve seen in years.

I think your making a wise choice on the tree your looking at. Nice video thanks!

Thanks. I have maybe 13 apple and 1 pear in my cart for now. I really don’t need that many apple trees, and will be reducing that down to maybe half that before ordering next year.

Right now, the varieties I have in the cart are Akane, Baldwin, Kidd’s Orange Red, Jonagold, Suncrisp, Wickson Crab, Zestar, Rubinette, Erwin Bauer, CrimsonCrisp, Ashmead’s Kernel, and maybe another Goldrush and Honeycrisp to add to the ones we already planted this year. Since we both liked the Maxine pear we tried and canned from the orchard, we’d like to try one of those as well.

Like I said, most are on G935, but the rest are G11, G41 and G210. The pear has OHxF 87. Has that been a good pear RS for you?

We have the space for 14 more trees, but we already have 14 now, and that’s prob enough. But, it’ll be tough whittling those down to the six or seven I really want. As of now, the ones that are my must haves are Jonagold, KOR, and Suncrisp, plus the pear.

Anyone have opinions on my possible other selections?

I will let others comment on the varieties of apples. The ohxf87 pear rootstock is a good one. I would encourage you to watch your apple and pear selections because fireblight may be a problem in your area. The fireblight problem won’t show up until your apples and pears fruit which is devastating if you make the wrong selections. I like to graft my own fruit trees so I can graft my pears and apples high up. I do grow a few susceptible fruits sometimes but grafting several feet higher up the rootstocks keeps my trees from being killed to the ground. That’s a trick I learned the hard way.


One thing to note is that for our water challenged friends west of the Missouri, Cornell’s size charts are too generous for most of their rootstocks. Or at least so says Washington State U.:

Clark - One thing I found out the hard way is that at the first year branch unions of G.969 the wood is a little bit brittle. More brittle than I would have expected. I had some extra G.969 in a row and when I pulled them to pot and graft them branches about 3’ off the ground split off. But I don’t have much other experience to go off of to say it is just generally a thing with apples or these rootstocks. Mostly I treat my new trees with care, but there is some pushing and shoving that goes on with digging/pulling rootstocks. Anyways, it wasn’t an issue for me, because I cut back to about 10-12" of rootstock trunk, but if you are growing out the rootstock high it might be something to ask Cummins etc about.

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Thanks that’s good to know and not something I considered.

Akane is very susceptible to skin problems. Which is too bad as its great otherwise. Wickson cracks every third year for me, and has other skin problems as well - its a western and New England apple.

My general impression on new rootstocks is their disadvantages may not have emerged yet. So while I don’t mind using them, I don’t make a huge effort to get trees only on the newer roots.


Clark, I have been pleased with the performance of both G41 and G935. 935 has flat crotch angles and even slow bearing trees like Baldwin fruit early on it. Fruit size seems to be larger on it also, comparing Chieftain on m7 and g935, the honors noticeably went to 935.


Full sized fruit is something I was wondering about with G935. Quick maturity is a bonus. Crotch angles of branches is more important here than many places because wind storms are more common in Kansas than at some locations. My orchard is on top of a hill which is useful to avoid frost but storms are worse.

Thanks Clark, for your information, from my experience the best rootstock that fits my field is the M7, is resistant to Phytophthora and fireblight, and no need to put tutor as the M9, What you comment on the characteristics of rootstock G935, it seems that sound great, I don´t know that pattern, but I imagine it will need test a few years yet.

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Do you have to support the trees using G 935?


I honestly don’t know. A few sources in the literature recommend staking G.935 early until established, or permanently. Other sources make no mention of it, but neither do they mention any anchorage issues having been witnessed.

My tree on G.935 is beautifully upright, with almost perfectly perpendicular crotch angles. I don’t plan to stake mine unless someday it begins to lean heavily. I do not believe that snapping branches are an issue. Graft unions are reported as strong. I am very excited about G.935. All of my semi-dwarves I am planting are on either G.935 or the classic 111. I want to see these rootstocks go head to head.

If you get paranoid about anchorage, you might go with G.202. The form is reported to be a bit taller, less spreading, and with superior anchorage.

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If what you say, the G935, it seems a good rootstock

I’m going to buy a pear tree and a cherry tree this year and reading up on rootstocks and fruit varieties. From this thread I understand that rootstock matters but One thing I’m still not clear on is what makes a fruit tree disease resistant? Is it the rootstock or the variety? Likewise what makes a fruit tree an early bearer? Do these qualities come from being a variety with those qualities or by being grafted on to a rootstock with those qualities.

I hear Harrow Sweet pear bear fruit earlier than most pear varieties. Does harrow sweet do that on any rootstock? Is Goldrush Apple disease resistant no matter the rootstock?

The thing that’s important to know is that the rootstock and the scion have influence on fruiting and a lot of other things. Quince though not disease resistant causes pears to fruit very early. I think ohxf333 or ohxf87 would be better choices because they are more compatible and more disease resistant when used with harrow sweet as an example. Oxf333 is the rootstock that produces the smaller tree of those two mentioned. It would likely produce fruit fairly quick. You might also be interested in this thread Pear rootstocks influence on Fruit size and this post Pear tree Fireblight research so you dont have to and Planting out pear rootstock on a large scale

Early bearer- a combination, but rootstock is probably the bigger factor. Of course a varietal extreme could overpower this- Harrow Sweet flowered the first year for me on OHxF87, while Magness on any rootstock (even quince) is slow.

Disease resistance- rootstock is a much smaller factor in disease resistance, other than choosing a bad one could weaken the tree (putting one which can’t take wet soil in a low area, for instance) allowing it to succumb to stresses, such as disease. The main reason fireblight-resistant apple rootstocks are chosen is so that the whole tree isn’t lost in a bad outbreak. I remember one study/article, which suggested that the rootstock could convey some slight resistance to the top of the tree, but it is a much more minor factor.

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Thank you both! Now it makes sense.

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