"Top working" large diameter trees/stumps

Some of the new Cornell rootstocks are said to be very resistant to replant disease. In a Z5 it probably isn’t as much an issue as in warmer zones. I know hundred year old commercial orchards nearby in Z6 where no particular effort is needed to establish new trees on M7, 106 and 111 rootstocks. They just juice them with a bit of urea.


We’ve got some tall trees about 100 feet away. I’ll be working this winter to bring their canopies up, so that these can get more sun. Although these DO get full sun.

As far as the soil goes, I should elaborate on what I said. The soil is not “BAD” it just isn’t great soil. It’s fairly sandy, and has never really been amended in the 50 years these trees have been here. We mulch with the lawn clippings, but other than that we don’t do anything.

These trees were planted about 30 years before I was born, so I can use them as a good example of what NOT to do!

I have absolutely no idea what ANY of these trees are planted on. The one that is the worst… with the large exposed area and split, that one is some sort of Red Delicious, so that might a reason why it is lacking a bit of vigor. Some of the other trees I cut watersprouts off of in order to help the top grow. I won’t do that this year.

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If it’s just outside of the dripline I might be alright. I’d also be able to dig a nice big (wide) hole and fill that with dirt from a different area of the yard. I am limited on space as far as where I can plant, but overall there is a lot of property around it. I’ll look into the Pescadero Gold.

That is good news! If I do have to replant I’d likely be planting on M 106, M 111, B.118, Antonovka, or P.18.

Thank you folks, a lot. I really do appreciate it. I get a lot of the basics, but it helps A LOT to hear from people with the experience of you folks.

that the watersprouts are more vigorous than the buds growing from those enormous(but runting-out) trunks-- it indicates three things

-the rootstock has been ‘impatient with’ and ‘giving up’ on the trunk so now diverting its energy to sprouting its own new trunks in the form of suckers

-that there really must be something wrong with those trunks(regardless of having being grown from seedling, or from scion)

-that it is not a soil problem.


Those all seem like fairy good things. What I cut off was not nearly as vigorous as the really bad tree, but there were still 5-10 that I had to keep up with throughout the season. I think that these are the original limbs/trunks, so could it be that it is just old wood?

I’ve got another tree about 50 feet from these that is supporting about 10 different (10 inch diameter) trunks and is putting out a few cubic yards of fruit. This is in slightly lower ground, but it leads me to believe that the soil isn’t THAT bad.

probably just old and/or partly infected wood that are still alive, but simply for the sake of being alive, and a bit uneventful with regards to fruit production

i agree, especially if the suckers grow so vigorously it is already becoming a ‘chore’ having to prune quite often

If a tree is struggling where established and sending out new vigorous water sprouts, it is not necessarily because of disease in the existing wood of the tree, but it is an indication of stress. It could also be caused by periods of drought and other environmental issues. Excessive cropping and spurred up branches could be diverting too much energy away from vegetative growth on those parts of the tree. There could also be problems in the roots- even nematodes, although I’ve not observed nematode issues in my region.

All of this is speculative, but disease that kills apple trees besides FB are not all that common besides fungal diseases that are apparent when they girdle sections of the tree and are obvious on the bark because they cause a very physical and visible injury. The consequences of improperly trained trees with codominant branches and the like are seldom lethal or even deinvigorating.

But once wood loses its vigor it is sometimes easiest to regrow the tree from a low water sprout. I never cut out water sprouts that are low in the tree of one I’m rebuilding, except to make room for better ones. I use them for nurse branches or graft them over.


It sounds to me as if there is hope!

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