Why would M111 produce stunted trees?

Compared to what? Here I plant it in many different types of soil and if that soil is capable of producing vigorous peach trees I’ve never had a problem with the vigor of apples on 111. It is peaches that get finicky, they can’t compete with established forest trees for water and really suffer when drainage isn’t good.

My standard method is to loosen the soil far beyond the roots and lay about 5 cubic feet of quality compost in a 6’ diameter circle over the planting area of slightly shallow planted trees than cover that with woodchips of the same quantity. Additionally I provide supplementary nitrogen for the 2nd and 3rd year of establishment.

For heavy clay, I always plant on mounds.


We very well could have voles, we have them in our nearby veggie garden. I definitely think our soil is a touch acidic as we also have a lot of moss and lichen.
We used the landscape fabric to ward off weeds when they were first planted.

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May be a first time, but I agree.

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I think you’re blaming the rootstocks
and you should blame yourself for cutting the tops out
(possibly even in summer?)
then ignoring the trees for several seasons!

I sold a tree 30 inches tall I’d had 20 years…neglect can be a bad or a good thing sometimes I reckon.

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Standard rootstock. MM111 is our best option for apples in my part of Kansas.

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No we did it at first planting in spring. I agree we should have fertilized, but we did add compost at planting, watered when young and at dry spells, and i pruned every year except last & this. I am willing to accept it’s just a lack of TLC BUT why would the peaches, pears, and apple on G16 do so much better under the same conditions? We’re talking being planted since spring '16 and not being but 5 ft tall and 2 ft wide for the Dolgo, slightly more for the others. The pomme gris on G16 is more like 6-7 ft tall and wide.

I read a lot on this forum before planting and thought i was following in others’ footsteps using M111 and cutting low to force a open tree. I guess it isn’t very often done as I thought or maybe these weaker cultivars weren’t a good choice for it.

I’m thinking of planting anew, and seeing if in the intervening years these can improve with TLC. But I want a tree under 12 ft if possible… 8-10 is ideal… If training them wide by cutting the central leader isnt the way to go, what rootstocks should i be looking for to achieve this?


I’d guess that if you converted back to a central leader, the M111’d take off like gangbusters. (Might be some time before it fruits, as it is as reluctant as most seedlings.)

You have several issues - no boron in the dirt, what could be collar rot issues, and pruning practices that defeat what you want to do. (You do not want more than one trunk coming out of the dirt or graft union.) Also, in case you are unsure, 111’s like a central leader and that I do not see. Have you sent your soil or to your land grant university for free testing??


Agreed on your advice.

Dwarfing is to make smaller, whether a bit or a lot. Dwarf means small, as in the low end of the spectrum. Semi-dwarf/semi-dwarfing means definitely not on the low end of the spectrum but smaller than full size.

Then again the only way to know for sure is to ask how much.

I don’t agree. In the meaning of the verb “dwarf” that describes what a rootstock does to a tree, dictionaries provide the following definitions:
Oxford Dictionary: stunt the growth or development of
Meriam-Webster’s Collegiate: to restrict the growth of : stunt
Collins: to stunt the growth of
American Heritage Dictionary: to check the natural growth or development of; stunt

I don’t think that “makes a bit smaller” conveys the same meaning.

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Stunted sizes can be a few things to look at- rocks or roots compacted or even root rot. Even the soil from one tree to the next may be different enough to not let the tree grow correctly. There are some apple varieties that are not as vigorous. Not saying these are the things but things I have had happen with my M111 over the years.
M111 's have a lot of suckers and some burr knots as well.I have had horrible luck with the G series.Three out of four G series I have planted are runted and look scraggly. I probably would not use G series rootstocks again at my location. The rootstocks all split one year after he had a huge rain. None of my M11 have ever split even after heavy rains of 3-4" of rain. I have G202 and G11.

In the context of apples, dwarfing is a quality that requires further clarification. If somebody comes to you and tell you “I have developed a new dwarfing rootstock” your very first question would probably be how much dwarfing it promotes.

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Yes, but my understanding would be that this rootstock induces a significant reduction in size and growth rate, compared to a full-size tree, and not just “a bit”. And this is not just my personal understanding of the word “dwarfing” in this context, since it agrees with the meaning captured by the dictionaries I cited above.


Im curious what makes you say that?
How are you so sure there is no boron in the soil?

i think it’s a great idea to send in a soil sample. When a tree or plant is not “behaving” as expected that is an excellent tool to search for the cause.

but before seeing those results. How can you be sure it’s boron? And not something else?


I only see the word dwarfing used when there is a significant difference.

for example

Dwarfing is a process in which a breed of animals or cultivar of plants is changed to become significantly smaller than standard members of their species.

.Dwarfing - Wikipedia

“a bit” usually does not classify as a significant difference

More specifically when talked about rootstocks
Dwarfing rootstock is used to describe trees that are about 30% to 60% of the size of trees on seedling rootstocks.
.Understanding Apple Tree Size: Dwarf, Semi-Dwarf and Standard – Apples
Where MM111 produces 85 to 100% the size of seedling.
.Apple Rootstock Info: MM.111 EMLA – Apples

If you wanted to use “dwarfing” to describe MM111. (where i see no reason to ever want to do that)
You would have to say non dwarfing to semi-dwarfing.

Just calling MM111 “dwarfing” is wrong or at least very misleading

The correct term for MM111 i think is, vigorous, semi standard or standard size. (The term that i see used in most science based or industry sources)

If that person where to respond with "it is 0-15% smaller than standard size.
I would tell them they did not develop a “dwarfing rootstock” but they developed a vigorous rootstock.

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You are missing the context. When it comes to trees, dwarfing rootstock is followed by ‘how much?’ Because different varieties produce different levels of dwarfing.

Heck if you want to go by the dictionary definition dwarf simply means small. What is small? It could be a little, it could be a lot.

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sorry for hijacking your thread for a discussion about dwarfing rootstock.

I think a lack of TLC can enlarge small differences between plants by a lot.

Some rootstocks (like MM111) are known for being able to take care of itself (handle neglect) but thats usually only true once they reach a certain size. Before that size they still need a bit of care.

Maybe a vole or something else damaged the MM111 tree’s so they where a bit behind the pomme gris. The pomme gris might have gotten at a point (large enough rootsystem) where it could not only survive the lack of TLC. But reasonably thrive.

To me it seems like your MM111 tree’s got stuck in the survive but not thrive state. I also see quite a lot of flower buds.
I think a heavy pruning + thinning of flower buds combined with some TLC should make it possible to get a good open vase framework within 2 years. And after that you can skip thinning the spurs/flower buds.

Where i differ from some others, is the central leader idea.

I think your choice to prune relatively low and go for an open center tree was a logical one for your whishes. It certainly worked out for the pomme gris! i quite like that tree!

From what i understood, you want to have a low but wide tree, for easy reaching/maintenance. An open center tree without central leader is a great form for that.

If you think there is still enough uncertainty in the cause of the difference between tree’s to do further investigations.

I would start with a soil test. But personally i would dig up 1 MM111 tree. And look at the roots. And see if i can find a obvious sign of something wrong. The dolgo tree seems like a good candidate for that.
When digging it up, you damage the roots. And thus ideally prune to the top of the tree to match the smaller rootsystem. The dolgo would receive heavy pruining from me anyway since i don’t really like it’s framework. And you need to remove suckers.

It will likely cost you a years worth of growth. But that would be a price i would be willing to pay. If you would to, is up to you.

To me it seems your left with the question “what rootstock to choose for the next apple tree’s.”
I know it seems like poor advice. But MM111 still seems like a good choice for your circumstances. (low vigor inducing soil/care/circumstances)
Only reason to switch i can think of, is maybe if you find signs of phytophthora root/collar rot Table of Apple Rootstock Susceptibility to Phytophthora spp. – Apples

G16 and MM111 seem reasonably close in resistance to that. But the MM111 might be susceptible to a strain that the G16 can handle better.

You could also go for G16 stock for new apples. But that is supposed to be dwarfing. And that combined with your low vigor circumstances (for apples) and a low vigor scion could yield you vigor problems.

going for a seedling stock is another option. But once that goes from “survival” to “thriving” state. It’s lower precocity might make it to vigorous.

i am on a different continent though. So if you get advice from some-one with more similar growing conditions, value their advice over mine.


right back at ya.

In the context of dwarfing apple rootstock. I can think of no source more extensive than the NC-140 trials. Click on my links (in above posts) to the website about those trials. And you will find my and Stan’s terminologie follows theirs.

I also posted above that specifically in context of apple rootstock dwarfing means 30-60% of standard size. And thus in the context of apple rootstocks. Dwarfing is not used to describe MM111 (85-100% of standard size)

please read
.Understanding Apple Tree Size: Dwarf, Semi-Dwarf and Standard – Apples
for further clarification of the word dwarfing in the context of apple rootstocks.


You’re inventing things that do not exist. “Dwarfing by [a number indicating height or percentage of normal]” is a very rare usage. The standard usage is something like “a dwarfing rootstock that produces trees [description of size in terms of height or percentage of normal]”. It’s very easy to check the frequency of these usages by searching for them on this forum or generally in Google.

Once again, your understanding of English words is different from that in dictionaries. Here are definitions of the relevant meaning of the noun “dwarf”:

Oxford Dictionary: denoting something, especially an animal or plant, which is much smaller than the usual size for its type or species
Collins: an animal or plant much below the average height for the species
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate: an animal or plant much below normal size
American Heritage Dictionary: an atypically small animal or plant
Macmillan: a dwarf tree, plant, or animal is much shorter or smaller than others of the same type

Notice the words “much” and “atypically” in these definitions.

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