Should this 1 yr grafted apple tree be pruned?

This is a 1 year old grafted Gravenstein that I gave my father last fall. He wants to know if that lower branch, about 8" from the ground, should be pruned. Thanks, Ed

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Ed,
I would remove the lower branch. Do you know what type of apple rootstock that Gravenstein is grafted to? Some rootstocks encourage the apple to produce quicker than others. Hope your dad gets many Gravensteins from his tree!

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If this is a semi-dwarf to standard rootstock yes I’d remove it, It will be oddly placed, the apples will likely touch the ground initially (under fruit load). You might be able to bend it up with some stiff wires (keeping the crotch a U shape) and train as double central leader. That’s a lot of work considering your main leader has some nice feathering higher up, which could be trained nicely to a central leader.

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It’s an M-9 rootstock. Thanks, Ed

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Looks like you could be on your way to forming a Drapeau Marchand espalier form.

Or, as @gsims1997 says, you could also turn it into a U-shaped cordon, single or multiple.

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What are the best options here to promote early fruiting? I’d imagine that in two more years they could expect a few blossoms and might allow two or three fruit to stay, but I don’t know if that lower branch is helping or distracting.

The best long term solution for the tree, I think, would be to remove that lower branch, and get a nice scaffolding established, but I’m thinking getting Dad an apple is the priority. If that lower branch helps, keep it. I’d guess that it is.

Tell your father “Good Luck” from another old geezer!

:slight_smile:M

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M-9 should fruit quickly. That sounds promising.

@Paully, or anyone else…is the trellis suggestion because of the space limitation? …or can we just let it grow normally? Thanks, Ed

Just a suggestion I would say. M9 can be kept pretty small and still productive.

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Support is generally required for M9. What does that mean? A permanent stake in the ground like you have to keep the tree upright and generally some support of the young branches b/c of early + heavy cropping. High density orchards pack M9’s together and grow them on support trellises like grapevines. For the less ‘industrious’ that extra support could just be some 2x4’s to prop up branches.

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@edweather I just like the artfulness of Espalier in all of its various forms. Normal pruning practice for a dwarf tree would have you remove any branches below about knee level. However, if you want to keep as much of the tree’s early growth as possible, to encourage earlier fruiting, then trellising and guiding the branches is one possible solution. I think that it happens to look pretty good too.

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Ok, just an update, and need some advice. My father says the small tree is loaded with small apples this year. Just to digress a minute, it’s an approx 4 yr old grafted Gravenstein. It’s over 6’ tall now. Last year only flowered, but this year it has lots of small apples about the size of grapes. I asked him to send me a photo, but he’s 85 and doesn’t see well, so might not get one. Will the tree shed the apples it can’t handle, or should some of them be thinned? When I lived in apple country, I remember seeing small trees like this with 5 or 10 apples on them. My citrus aborts what it can’t handle, but not sure about apple trees. Thanks, Ed

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I’d go through it and thin heavily - about one fruit for every other spur - to give room and decrease the weight for young branches to support. You may wish to work from the bole (trunk) outward in each branch and perhaps strip those near the end, if you judge them to be vulnerable to breakage from fruit load (or bending to the ground.) If you are OK with no more than ten (sounds advisable,) then this should give good results.

I have a Hunt Russet that put out a moderate debut bloom this season. This is an apple that cannot be found in my area, so I left two fruits to develop. It is so small and young. This is more for records keeping (length of ripening from bloom to harvest, Brix and so on) than to get a crop! And, yes, it will be a first taste for me.

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Thanks for the advice. I forwarded the info to my father. We’ll be visiting him/the tree next month, so will be able to see how the tree is doing. Thanks again.

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Put pantyhose over the unblemished fruit. Consider thinning any apples with bug holes.

Gravenstein is precocious when put on precocious rootstocks. It will abort whatever it can’t handle. Since its an early season apple, it will have plenty of time to ripen everything up.

It has a staggered ripening sequence. Not everything is ready at once. Each apple comes into ripeness on its own over a 3 week period (in August, here). As soon as the exposed cheeks show red, you should begin to sample some.

Eat them fresh off the tree… or put in fridge immediately. They do not keep well at all. Eat them within a week of picking. A well-grown well-ripened Grav is outrageously sweet and zippy in flavor. They compell me to knaw all the way to the core until my gums are sore they are so good.

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I forgot to say: I recommend putting Gravs in the fridge before eating, but then eat them as soon as they cool down… or within 48 hrs. To me, they taste best fresh and chilled.

Some people say they make a good pie. I made a pie with them once. It was okay, but they are so much more enjoyable to me as whole apples eaten fresh out of hand. Some outfits in Calif do make a delicious sweet cider of them.

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Thanks, info forwarded. I can’t wait to see the tree. We’ll be there in Darien, CT in mid July. The other tree I grafted at the time was a Honeycrisp, and the current owners of that tree up in apple country in NY, say it’s doing well also.

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