Which apple rootstock should i use?

So, I wanted to plant a couple red fleshed apple trees.
I started reading about all of the rootstock available, but still i cant decide myself between an MM106 and an M111. They both look very strong for both their production and vigor, but i would like them to be not taller than 3.5meters, as i live on a small cliff and my garden is sloping. It is good for drainage but also dangerous for tall ladders. The ground is slightly chalky and has a fair amount of clay, so i should also note that.
Thank you very much for your help!

106 tends to fruit earlier than 111 but isn’t supposed to be as resistant to drainage problems or drought, so 111 is my workhorse, but 106 is sometimes superior in well drained soil. However, if you want smaller trees or shorter trees with less work of spreading branches (any rootstock can produce a low growing tree if you do the work of tying down branches as they grow out) consider M7.

M7 is probably the most popular home orchard rootstock because of availability and greater dwarfing than 106 or 111. However, in windy sites it has a tendency to tip over when loaded with its first real crop so it’s sometimes recommended to support it with a heavy length of metal conduit driven into the ground when tree is planted, which can be inconvenient when you prune because you don’t want to nick it with your saw. Once the tree is 7 or 8 years old it will probably be well anchored enough to remove the stake, but it may be impossible to lift out of the ground and have to be sawed off.

Keep in mind that variety has about as much affect on relative vigor of a tree as rootsock. If you live where fire blight is a huge problem, you might consider the Cornell rootstocks, although they are relatively difficult to propagate and therefore less available.

5 Likes

Thank you very much for your well detailed answer!
I didn’t take m7 in consideration for 2 reasons, firstly because in late September we have strong winds that might damage the tree, secondly, because my wife would prefer not having a stake, being the tree in the middle of the garden. I also noticed some wooly aphids attack my “test” m9 quite strongly, so I am also taking that into account.
If you were in my situation, what would you get? Given your experience? Are red fleshed apples vigorous?

If that was one thought, I’d have to say I have no experience with red-fleshed apple varieties, besides crabs. If the drainage is good, use the 106- it bears a couple years before 111, which, with some varieties, seems to take forever to come into true production- I mean 7-8 years. With others, like Goldrush, it can bear its first fruit by about year 2 from receiving it as a one year whip or branched little bare-root tree. 106 knocks a couple years off of waiting for later fruiting varieties to bear.

3 Likes

I have a similar orchard site: steep slope, some clay, good drainage, windy. In addition, I’m in a summer-dry area (coastal California) and require good drought tolerance. I ended up selecting MM111, and planned to keep it to perhaps 8 feet with summer pruning, strategic limb bending, and allowing early fruit production. It’s relatively early - I’m in year 6 for my oldest trees - but it’s working out well for me so far. Production is good, and size control hasn’t been difficult. No issues with anchoring or drought.

I don’t have experience with MM106, so I can’t knowledgeably compare those options.

6 Likes

I have twenty apple trees on a variety of rootstocks. After watching them for years. I would not recommend any rootstock that is not a triple digit number. MM111 is my favorite. My soil is clay, rocks, and hills.

3 Likes

I wouldn’t want trees taller than like 3-3.5 meters so that’s why I was doubtful with m111. How did you achieve early bearing with m111? Do I have to take any particular training method? Let me know if you have any red fleshed apple experience! I will graft them personally next grafting season. It will also be my first attempt at grafting so I don’t really know what will be the outcome.
Thank you again for your help. I’m seriously considering to go with m111 after all these responses, given that m111 also seems more resistant to diseases

I would merely echo the observation about taking into account the vigor of the grafted part. For ‘Jonagold’ ( vigorous) you would have a less vigorous rootstock than you would with ‘Goldrush’ (not so vigorous) for example.

I don’t have any, but @BlueBerry and @derekamills have experience with red fleshed apples, maybe they could comment?

Regarding rootstocks, I have M111 (I think) and M7 trees on them, no M106 as we tend to get a lot of rain. My two M111 trees seem more sturdy than M7, but they have been alright so far. No fruit off any of them yet, they’re 4 years old, but there are some blooms on them, so we ought to get some fruit this year.

If you’re open to the newer Geneva series of rootstocks, there are some good options with those. G 890 is supposed to be about M7 sized, with higher & earliler production, free-standing, wooly aphid resistant, fireblight resistant, & replant tolerant. Cummins still has plenty in stock.

2 Likes

I get a lot of rain only in may and October usually… winter and summer are often very dry, rains a few times and the ground tends to dry quite quickly. About the Geneva rootstock, it sound very interesting! idk if they are available in Europe, I will check!

My soil is quite unlike yours: sand, sand, sand. Horizontal piece of ground; loads of sun and little to no rain in July & August. Very low relative humidity on a summer day: down to 13%. My only direct experience with red-fleshed apples is limited to three: Winekist, Redfield & Otterson.

Winekist is lanky and incredibly tolerant of dry conditions - even staying viable when grafting a thread of a scion that took two months to callus and break bud. A natural semi-dwarf, we’ll be lucky if it gets to 11 feet tall and wide. Excellent July crop of small deeply red (inside, as well as out) fruit. Mid-season bloom; no trace of diseases. Codling moths find it of lesser interest than most of my other apples.

Redfield is a larger vigor tree, can get scab; very fruitful. Its crop ripens by 15 October here and is useful any way you want. The fruit is average sized, might keep 4 weeks. This tree stands alone on a neighbor’s lot. It has never had a worm in any fruit. I’d never heard of such a thing.

Both have offered 11 & 12 Brix in my sunny location.

Otterson is new to me, having first read about it last winter. It is, apparently, a vigorous, trouble-free and productive tree. Its fruit should be the size of Redfield’s or a bit larger; amazing anthocyanin levels offer lots of color and testy (acid, bitterness & tannin) additions to cider. I grafted it just a couple weeks ago; it appears there are several callused already. My guess, it will bloom and ripen rather early (by Sept. 10?)

If you cannot get your hands on Geneva 890, (which I am trying first time this year), then I’d recommend MM106. Alan has mentioned its attributes. Anything you find of really small vigor, or is quite precocious (bloom and fruit early in life) MM111 might serve best.

You might try Budagovsky 118 for a comparison with MM111. More precocious & productive, equally good root anchoring, it is, itself, a red-fleshed variety, so would reinforce that aspect of the trees you contemplate growing. Easily obtained in Europe.

1 Like

I bought several redlove trees and a baya Marisa, but they are all grafted on top of an m9, which is not optimal at all with my conditions. So those would be my very first grafting target. Thank you very much for the tips, I think I might go with the Geneva, If I can’t find it I think I will go with mm106. As redloves I got odysso era circe and calypso.

1 Like

Another option would be grafting a dwarf interstem to MM111, which would create a well-anchored and more precocious semi-dwarf tree. Commonly done with Bud 9 & M9. There are several threads on here about doing that.

1 Like

I also read something about that, but im not really sure about how that would turn out as im not really the best grafter out there ahah!

I encouraged scaffold branches to begin a bit lower and be spaced a bit closer than one usually would, and trained them to be nearly horizontal fairly early via weights. When the trees began producing flower buds, I allowed more of them to mature and bear fruit early on than one usually would with a young tree. I’ve also been a bit stingy with fertilizer and supplemental water.

Structurally, I haven’t been particularly formal, but most of my trees could be classified as modified central leader.

I’ve planted or grafted quite a few red-fleshed apples. I have all of Alfred Etter’s red varieties, and a handful of others as well. Of those that are bearing, my current favorites are Pink Pearl and Mott’s Pink (early), and Christmas Pink and Pink Parfait (late). I’ve planted a Red Devil and will get my first harvest from that this year. I hear good things about Red Devil and Rosette, both English apples that should be relatively easy to find in Europe. The Etter apples may be more of a challenge to locate.

1 Like

Thank you very much jerry, I will surely look them up, I didn’t know there were so many around!

I don’t think any of us yet have good idea if the Relove trees make a full sized tree or not on a standard root. (But I am going to find out, as I put Odysso on Antonovka this spring.)
Cierce is no better tasting to me than Niedzwetzkyana, which is dry, astringent and sour, although juicier.

As NuttingBumpus says, Redfield and Otterson apparently make full sized trees. My Redfield finally bloomed on MM111, but then all the fruitlets got froze about April 14,15.

If I could find it, I’d try “Estonian wine apple” (Veinoun)…should be easier to locate in Europe.
Bakran, from Pakistan or Iran, is about ping pong ball sized, juicy and sour, should make excellent jelly just sugar and juice. Sort of drooping limbs.
I have other red fleshed, but young grafts and have not fruited.

3 Likes

They certainly look less vigorous on m9 compared to other cultivars, so I might guess that they are a little dwarfy themselves

I have thousands of apple trees (1,600 different varieties of which 250+ are red fleshed) and the majority are on M111. Although I have probably every available root stock somewhere as part of my testing. I prefer M111 because it does better in our lousy clay soil and produces trees that are a perfect size for guests to our UPic and anchor pretty good. I say pretty good because as our orchard name says, Hocking Hills Orchard, the majority of my trees are on our two hills and even M111 struggles to hold upright a tree on a bit of a slope when we have never ending rain. So this past weekend I was out straightening up trees because I think we are 9 inches over average already for rain?

6 Likes