Why would M111 produce stunted trees?

I am at a loss and need some helpful suggestions! We planted fruit trees 6 & 7 years ago. All in the same area, getting plenty of sun, receiving same care. The peach trees are beautiful and vigorous (late spring freezes and loss of crops aside!). Pear trees on quince are doing nicely. One apple tree (pomme gris) is on G11. It is a nice tree that is…2-3 times the size and vigor of several other apples planted same year, on M111!!

The trees on M111 were cut back to 18-24 inches the first year to encourage a vase\open shape as we planned to keep them around 12ft high. They are now barely approaching 5-6 ft high and not very well branched at all.

We dug out a lot of rocks to make a nice planting hole, mixed remaining sandy type soil with some compost (tried to not do too much to “spoil” the roots but did some). We haven’t fertilized, and that can’t have helped, but we did keep them watered as young trees and during dry spells.

I know we could have done more TLC, and no we havent done a soil test (we need to!)-- , but–with the peaches, pears, and one apple on dwarf(!) rootstock doing expotentially better-- i am left questioning if the M111 rootstock is somehow not a good match for our soil. We want to expand the orchard, but don’t want to repeat the failure!!

I think a couple of the varieties are considered low vigor, but they still should do better than this! Pristine, Honeycrisp, Gold Rush, Dolgo crabapple, a double-grafted tree of Liberty & Enterprise. We live in Va zone 6b, Shenandoah valley; rocky\sandy soil.

I am inclined to plant any future apple trees on a G variety rootstock.

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M-111 is a dwarfing rootstock. Your choice of heading back the young trees on M-111 produced an expected result. It is actually desirable in suburban settings. If you have room for larger trees and more production, then the central leader method is recommended for fruit stock on M-111.

It was my expectation to produce shorter, but trees with an open center. These just dont grow much period. Let me see if i can get a couple pics to show.

My pruning leaves a lot to be desired, but we pretty much gave up on the M111 trees last year.

First is Pomme Gris on G11, note i did cut it at planting also wanting an open type tree.
Second is Dolgo crabapple on M111 (it has rootstock sprouts i need to get rid of).
Third is Goldrush on M11

Then pics of peach and pear on quince to give perspective how they have done.

If M111 isnt vigorous enough what can i switch to to achieve an apple tree under 12 ft (more like 8 is ideal) that will bear well grown more open centered?

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i disagree with richard.

MM111 is not a dwarf.
I share your expectation of it growing larger than G11 or other things.

I do think some of the suckers took vigor away from the tree. That might explain a little.

Did you have different fruitload on MM111 and G11? that might also explain a difference in vegetative growth.

Only other thing it could be that i can think of, is some form of replant disease?

I do however like you find it strange.


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I agree. As I said, it is dwarfing.

Excellent all-around rootstock for apples. Tolerates wet, dry or poor soil. Resists woolly apple aphids and collar rot. Induces bearing at young age. Unpruned tree height 80-90% of standard, or about 15-25 ft. Trees on M-111 may be held to any desired height by summer pruning.

Check out the White Winter Pearmain thread linked above.

At 80 to 90% of standard, I typically don’t use the word “dwarf” in regards to M-111. Seems like semi-standard would be a more accurate description.


dwarfing ≠ dwarf.

Further, severe heading back of young saplings on this rootstock is ill-advised.

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We have had 5 tiny apples on the dolgo tree and 2 on Goldrush. Pomme gris, 1 (pollinatiin issues for it-- bloom time too far removed from others).

Where these are planted was just field for at least several years as far as we know. The suckers emerged in the last 2 years, i missed pruning last year. And i have not pruned harshly, they just haven’t grown much. I just dont think they should look like this after 7 years in the ground. :frowning: if this is the way M111 does then I’m better off with G11-- i would have smaller trees than i planned but better overall health. Pomme Gris was covered in blooms last year it just didnt get the pollination.

I got it because i thought it would establish well in the sandy soil we have. I remember reading of others who were growing on m111 and yet pruning the tree to be shorter and more open. Perhaps they simply had better soil, or the scionwood was much more vigorous varieties?

@aheartforhome can you take a close up pic of the rootstock? M-111 usually has burr knots and I don’t see any. I have seen burr knots be called out as a runting factor. It is supposedly recommended to plant trees on M-111 all the way till the graft union.

I do apologize, as this might make a difference, i found in my records Pomme Gris is on G16, not G11. But thats a dwarf…

Honeycrisp was on G935 but it never grew above 4 ft and then died.

Here’s how we started. I thought we cut as low as 18-24 inches but probably between 2-3 ft after looking at my old pics.

Goldrush (I’m not sure where the bark issues have come from? Not weedeater damage.)


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I’m not a native English speaker. So maybe I’m missing a language subtlety here.

But all sources from extension to research papers if seen. Talk in terms of both dwarf and dwarfing often interchangeably. And never in regards to MM111

a simple example would be

Dwarfing Rootstocks Semi-Dwarfing Rootstocks Standard Size Rootstocks
B.9 B.118 Antonovka 313
G.16 B.490 MM.111 EMLA


You can clearly see they use “Dwarfing” to describe dwarf rootstocks like B9 G16 M9 etc. “semi Dwarfing” to describe rootstocks like B118 MM106. But use “Standard size” for MM 111.

I think it would be wrong or misleading. Or at least confusing to describe MM 111 as “dwarfing”

Again, maybe I’m misinterpreting something here. But your original post seemed to suggest that a heading cut + the dwarfing of MM 111 explained the observed difference in vigor between the tree’s.

I find that unlikely.

Also it is not necessarily ill advised to do a heading cut on a young MM 111 tree.
I think there are many cases where that’s exactly what you want to do. (just like the case here, where OP wants a open center vase like tree.)

I’m in a country where such a heading cut is done on dwarfing stock (true dwarfing like M9, not MM 111 “dwarfing”) To make an early bearing central leader tree. (knipboom)


im on a different continent. So my climate/soil can be quite different.

But i think your choice of MM 111 for your dry sandy soil makes a lot of sense.

I do think suckers can take a lot of vigor away from the top of the tree. + some randomness from a little neglect can explain some of the differences.

Just to check. the first picture (Pomme Gris on G16?)
The grafting point is above ground right?

i would not discount MM111 for further tree’s. It seems like a logical choice for your wishes and soil type. It does however require more sucker removal than most other rootstocks.

But it would be better to take advice from someone with growing circumstances closer to yours than from me.

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I would not discount a possibility that the rootstock of your trees was mislabeled.


Mm111 is very dwarfing in my heavy clay soil. If you want them taller, you’ll want a central leader until they are 3 - 4’ tall. Then you top the leader, which will cause 2-3 branches to grow out and up until it reaches 10 -15’ . You should never let a side branch be almost bigger than the size of the trunk. You can cut the central leader low, but then you will get the experience you did, which is very dwarfing. Would keep most of what you have that are main branches in this case now.


My apples on m111 grow incredibly slowly. They eventually reach 15-20 feet tall with open shape pruning. But it took a really long time to get there.


I am in West Virginia, heavy red clay. M111 has a lot of vigor here, but not with Honeycrisp and gold rush ,which have less vigorous growth.
Some thoughts …
I see you have black fabric around some trees.
Pull that back and look for vole damage to the roots.
They like it under there.
Also it appears you have **broomsedge grass . A indicator of acidic soil.so some lime may be in order ( soil test )
Remove the root suckers , apply several ( 3 ~?) big hand fulls of urea ,
(or the equivalent ) mulch to keep a weed free zone 3-4 ft. Circle for a year or 2, I bet they perk right up.