This is a wild crab that had been eaten to a small “shrub” by the cattle that used to be pastured here. I trimmed it to a single leader and protected it for a few years, then decided I didn’t want it where it is (edge of my side yard) and tried to dig it out. I didn’t get all of the roots and it sent up a new leader. I decided it had earned the right to stay so I let it grow. Spring of '20 I top worked a stick of Jonsib crab to one branch. This spring, both the Jonsib and wild crab bloomed and set fruit for the first time.
Jonsib fruit in foreground, wild crab fruit in background
This is another tree that the cattle had nearly browsed to death when I bought the place. Pruned it to a single leader, trained the first few sets of limbs, and protected it. This one has more “apple like” leaves than many of the wild trees here. Last year it produced just a few fruit, but they were good sized (over 2" anyway). This year, it has a much better crop and the fruit aren’t sizing up like they did last year. Given the drought, I can’t make any decisions yet whether this is a wild apple or a wild crabapple. Last year, the fruit was sweet and lacking the tannins of a wild crab.
Another wild crab with its first fruit this year. This one has reddish leaves and the fruit was red from the get go. The flesh has some reddish hues. It isn’t ripe yet, the seeds were still white. Very tannic, very tart.
This is a wild apple that had it’s first fruit maybe 7 or 8 years ago. The load was so heavy it broke the central leader. I trimmed it up the best I could and let 'er go. It didn’t produce much for a number of years after that damage. It has a nice crop this year. The apples aren’t anything special. A little too tart for my taste but decent texture.
Wild crab growing in my creek bottom. Very heavy soil. Surrounding plants include tag alder, reed canary grass, paper birch, quaking aspen, and goldenrod. This tree has a heavy crop every other year. This is a good year.
A few fruit from this ^^^ tree. They are ripe and falling. There’s a bit of red tint under the skin when you bite into them. Sweet, tart, decent texture, more applely than crabapplely I’d say. They are bigger in size than my Keepsakes this year, so I’m calling them a small apple.
My wife and I “found” this wild apple growing about 5 miles away. It’s not a crab, but I would definitely call it “wild”. I’m guessing it’s around 15 years old and is probably the result of somebody throwing an apple core out of their vehicle window. There was plenty of fruit on the ground, as well as a bunch still hanging. They taste pretty darn good. Sweet, tart, crispy, juicy…plenty of apple maggot damage but not much scab or CAR damage on the leaves that I noticed. I’ll be snagging a few scions this winter.
Do you graft any over to known apples? I’ve got a dozen or two wild crabs on the property. I’ve grafted about 10 over to named varieties. I am thankful for the wild trees but some of them are big and loaded with PC and other pests. I’m afraid they contribute to pest pressure because I can’t spray all these wild trees. I’m thinking about hacking them all back and grafting them all over to cider apples. Actually, a few have great cider apples already, but the apples are very small.
Yep, that’s why I like grafting wild apples to add to my orchards. I always hope that some critter eats an apple and then “plants” the seeds somewhere good. As I’ve opened the canopy on my acreage more and more wild apple/crab seedlings are showing up. Maybe one of those seedlings becomes the next great apple (most likely not, but a guy can dream)
Read your posts and I am wondering if any of you have tried to use crab scions to dwarf an older apple tree by top working?
I am currently trying to topwork a full sized Tompkins King on MM111 rootstock. My goal being to find a way to dwarf growth of the top or central leader of the tree. I am thinking about using crab apple scions as interstems to reduce vigor of each main scaffold as well as the top.
If it is successful it would save me a lot of pruning each year to keep each scaffold at a reasonable height for maintenance and harvest.
Let me know if you have tried such an approach.
I’m thinking the crab interstem could slow the growth assuming it was from a low vigor source. I would think a more reliable size could be gotten by using a dwarfing interstem from B9, 107, or 106 etc.