Vigor help on a few less common apple varieties

M111 is not a very dwarfing rootstock.


East - West rows. Not ideal, but the only practical option option given the shape of our yard. 18 feet between rows, also the only practical option.

In my context, I’m planning to keep height under 10 feet, maybe shorter for the trees stuck in the tighter 12 foot spaces. Eventually I’ll mulch the rows so mowing between trees wont be a concern. I’ll be doing branch bending as well pruning to keep horizontal growth to the desired space.

These M111s wont ever get to their true natural size with this plan. It’ll be extra work, but I enjoy pruning. I guess my real question is whether 15 foot spacing an M111 with pruning for size control will still give me a decent tree, or would that spacing still be inadequate?

I have never tried to do what you are proposing so there may be others that can be of better insight. The only thing that I know for sure is that you are going to have to take the vigor out of the tree such as summer pruning and limb bending to get good fruit production. Other wise those trees are going to produce a lot of sucker wood every year.


Is there a reason you want to use m111? I think it’s a fine rootstock, but it seems large for your plans.


Is it possible to change your order? You might want to go with a lower vigor rootstock (M7, G890, etc.). Take a look at this thread-

Use the tree spacing calculator and the two references on scion vigor and see what spacings you get for your soil, rootstock, irrigation, etc.

If you manage the trees intensely a tight spacing may work. But many people struggle with this… they plan on a tight spacing then fail to prune enough to control tree height and width. I am not sure if 10 feet is a realistic height for an average vigor scion for M111. I think 14-16 feet is probably more realistic.

My neighbor had a Golden Delicious on a “semi-dwarf” rootstock (probably M111) the tree wasn’t pruned and ended up being 30 feet tall and about as wide. I have a Enterprise on G41 in it’s fourth leaf and it is about 12 feet tall. If I didn’t do size control pruning it would be 15 feet tall.

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It does sound like from your stated height specific goals you might be better served by a rootstock that could be maintained short easier. And if the goal is primarily apples in hand and you don’t mind at least staking, the more dwarf are more precocious. There is some new pruning method developed in NZ (sort of like espalier) but I’m blanking on the name - guy did a YouTube video about it - multi leader thing. It would require trellising but seemed pretty scientific in the approach to controlling vigor.

I’m trying some m111 just to hedge my bets regarding what rootstock is hardy enough to survive here and not tip over in the wind. M111 in my climate might take 20 years for trees to be touching at your stated spacing - all relative to how harsh your environment is… nice tall windbreak can possibly double as deer fence? Good luck keeping it all copacetic.

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If you summer prune, you will reduce vigor.
Less in winter
More in August.

I’d use M26

Even M106 would be better.

Careful with M106 in the upper Midwest. In our experience it tends to take longer to reach dormancy in the winter. We had some significant winter injury on young trees that were on M106, we dont use it as a root stock anymore for that reason.

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I concur with what you said here. I was going to make that comment as well. You beat me to it. I have not had very good luck with the M106 rootstock here in SW Ohio. Maybe it just a soil issue.

That’s good information. I’ve certainly experienced trees being slow to become dormant, but I can’t say it was limited to any one rootstock. I’ll have to keep that in mind and see if it applies to any of my specific rootstocks.

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We found previously published data which confirmed what we were seeing. We have not had the same issue with M7 or M111 in terms of winter dormancy.

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The planting spot is in clay soil in a wind alley between my house and the woods. I thought M111 would be ideal for that setting. Its on a slope, but I’m trying to avoid rootstocks that’ll tip over or do poorly in clay. The handful of M111’s I put in this spring grew wonderfully, the unknown semi-dwarf trees I got from Stark did either OK or barely grew.

In the ideal world I’d like to keep the tree short and fenced from the deer. 10 feet of height would be wonderful, but not a deal breaker. Sounds like that height goal might be overly ambitious but I’m OK if it doesn’t work.

Either way, I’ve got a HOA where I live so there is always the risk of being forced to pull my deer fence or being told to keep it to 6 feet. Unlikely with the current board, but who knows what could happen 10 years from now. If that happens, I still want the option of having trees that are tall enough to grow well above the deer browse line.

The M111 do great in my clayish spoil. No tilting or trouble with growth. I agree with you the Stark semi-dwarf trees grow slowing and are usually M7 rootstocks. They end up eventually tilting in most soils and especially in clay. Those rootstocks do not seem to get the stability of their rootstock formation. I use the Stark Bros semi dwarf trees, Yellow Delicious, for pollinators until my trees get bigger. I will replace them with other trees on the M111 rootstocks when the rest of my trees get bigger/older… I have already had an Ashmead Kernel tree tip over several times on a M7 rootstock. That was the only rootstock available at that time. I may have to permanently stake that tree because of the leaning and tipping over. I hate having to permanently stake a tree in my orchard.

Probably too late for you now, but I selected G210 and 890 because they have done well on clay in trials. G202 would have been fine too.

I lost M106 trees in Md to blight and collar rot. Never again.

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I had looked at the M106 to use. I am glad I did not choose that one now.

As far as the G202. I have one that looks great and one that looks pitiful. I may end up taking that one out it looks that puny and spindly. They are planted right next to each other, 15’ apart.

M7 has a notorious habit of sending up lots of suckers from the root.