What is the best rootstock for apples planted in wet areas for Zone 5A?

We have been establishing an orchard for the past 3.5 years. Some of the planting areas are wet. What is the best rootstock for apples planted in wet areas in a Zone 5A?

You should consider EMLA.111 and Antanovka.

You might consider planting your trees on little hills or berms. This will keep the root crown from drowning/rotting and can keep the trees out of frost pockets.

I’ll let the other folks chime in.


I am trialing Malus fusca in 5a/b in Iowa. I’m not going to recommend it for profit because my grafts on it are just showing signs of life, but for fun, it might be an option. One of Malus fusca’s common names is swamp crabapple. It is native to the Pacific Northwest, up into the coastal regions of Alaska.

I have Enterprise on M7 in the 2nd wettest spot in my backyard orchard. It is in its 4th year, and is doing fine. However, I also had Dabinett on G.222 in the wettest spot and I moved it because it failed to thrive. I must have found info that M7 was OK in wet soils at the time I bought the trees, because I knew the soil was wet where I was planting several of my trees.

I agree with Matt.

My choice would also be M111.

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I just purchased a Hewes Virginia crab on Malus Fusca. Was told by the horticulturist at the nursery that mf was known to thrive in swampy areas. Thanks for sharing your experiences and for confirming the Zone, too.

Hi Matt: Most of my heirloom apples are on M111. They are all in the ground in a dryer area. My soil varies from heavy wet clay to silt and loam and then to rotted ledge.

I do have Eden & Amberoso crabs on M111, Muscat de Venus on Antanovka and VIXEN ™ on Bud 118. The crabs are still benchgrafts in pots in the vegetable garden doing well and will be planted out next spring. So this will inform my choice as to where to plant them.

We visited an orchard on Sunday and the fellow was planting apple trees on M30 in his wettest area. I can’t find anything significant about that rootstock in the literature. Do you know of it?

The wettest area seems to be where I’ve planted my plums and pears. My French Petit & Moyer plums are on Myro. The Abbe Fetels, White Doyenne and 3-tiered Espaliered Pear Rescue are on OHxF87. My Mirabelle de Nancy & Mirabelle de Metz plums are on St Julian A.

I may dig up and plant those in mounds.

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I do have many of my apples on M111. That’s good to know.

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Are we sure the gentleman wasn’t really talking about G.30 instead of M.30? (Geneva.30).

Not sure if there ever was a Malling.30 (M.30).

He said M30. I did find it online, but I can’t find any real information about it. I do know that another orchard friend is using a lot of Geneva rootstock in NH. He’s in a Zone 4.

I got some Bud9 by accident here in 4a/b. I have heavy clay and can have 1-2" standing water in fall/spring. Put in raised mounds (about 1 foot) and after 2-3 years they are still going well though could be early though. An M7 I got in the same batch died this winter under same conditions.

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Thanks for weighing in on this. Sounds like similar conditions to two areas of our yard/orchard. Were these apples or another fruit tree?

I seen where p18 may do well

Having the more dwarfing M7 rootstock on wet soil, I will add you might get season-long growth out of M111, and the attendant excess vigor. Though our seasons are probably longer here in Iowa than Maine. (Apr - Nov/Dec) Also M7 is good at growing and bad at fruiting in comparisons done with Geneva roots, so it could just be M7…

I think my apple trees have a problem going dormant in the fall because of the moisture, but I haven’t had any issues with it, even when we have temperature down to 0 F to end the growing season (Nov 2015). My apples will hold on to their foliage until we get a very hard freeze (<15 F, I think).

Hi Levers:
Do you mean that M111 is also good at growing and bad at fruiting? (excess vigor). And, which Geneva version do you think would do well here? For growing and fruiting?

Since you asked specifically about the Geneva rootstocks, I figured that I’d give my experience. I also live in 5A and have trees on B9, M26, G11 and G16. Most of my apples are on the two Geneva rootstocks and part of my orchard occasionally gets “wet feet”. In 15 years I’ve probably lost 8 or 10 apple trees for various reasons, but most of my G11 and G16 trees (probably 40-50 trees) have survived and thrived, even the ones that occasionally get wet feet. That doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily better than anyone else’s suggestion(s), but they will live and provide fruit for you. The suggestion to grow in mounds is a good one though. For what it’s worth, I’ll be adding a few grafts on G41 rootstock next spring as well, but I have no experience with it as of now.

Hi Gangreen:
Interesting observations and how big do G11 and G16 get compared to full sized? i.e. 50-60% or more?

My wet areas are heavy clay and stay wet through spring.

Obviously their size will depend on your soil and growing conditions, but I’d guess more like 30-35% of standard. I have some trees that seem to dwarf out and stay around 6 feet tops (which suits me fine, I find them to be far easier to care for, prune, spray and harvest) and some that would probably reach 10-12 feet if I wasn’t pruning them back annually. I like the G11 and G16 stocks so far. I get good quality, large fruit, don’t have much suckering and haven’t really seen the weakness that some suggest (though I try to stake most or all of them). Oddly, I didn’t find a photo of one of the apple trees. This happens to be an Asian pear, but if you can see the row of trees to the right, they’re all apples on G11 and G16 and are typical of how I keep them in my orchard (sorry for the horizontal orientation of the photo, I’m not sure why that happens when your original was a vertical).

Wonderful Photo and beautiful view! I finally succeeded in downloading and rotating! Are those ramial wood chips @ the trunks?

These are the size tree we’d like to end up with. What distance on center do you plant?

No wood chips. The rows are planted 15’ apart and trees within rows are at 12’. I could plant closer, but I have plenty of room and prefer to be able to move around or mow between the trees.