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 Considering standard rootstocks 
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Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 1:10 pm
Posts: 17
Post Considering standard rootstocks
So I got my apple and pear scions -- thanks Nick Botner! -- and I'm going to graft them. I am set to take a grafting class this Saturday.

But I want to order rootstocks to graft onto and I'm hemming and hawing about this. I already have several semi-dwarf apples but my orchard area that is going to be fenced off with deer fence is filled up now and so I'm planning for next year. I have an area in mind but I am considering planting the next set of apple and pear trees outside of the fence and instead of doing dwarfs I am considering standards (Antonovka I think) in order to get them up above the deer and also to have bigger, strong branch structure. I've seen a few spindly dwarf apples get destroyed by bears around here in Duvall, Washington, east of the Seattle area in the foothills.

Thoughts on standard apples? I have the space (I just have to remove some alder that's there now). I am also hoping to plant these to develop a good root system and not have to irrigate them.

My other question is how to care for the grafted trees for the next year. I can't plant them to their final locations this season, and anyway I want to coddle them for a while while the grafts heal. Next spring I'll dig them up and plant them out to their final locations.

I got Chehalis, My Jewel, Wynooche Early, Jupiter, and some Kazakhstan apples for genetic diversity and pollination. Call me crazy, but I was thinking not so much of breeding apples, but at least of gathering together some great genetic resources so if any chance seedlings arise, they have a little extra magic in them.

Wed Apr 11, 2012 9:58 pm

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 10:57 am
Posts: 1406
Location: Portland, OR
Post Re: Considering standard rootstocks
Standards are great to keep the apples too high for deer, but putting foot sox on for deer is very hard at 38 feet.
John S

Thu Apr 12, 2012 7:19 pm

Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 1:10 pm
Posts: 17
Post Re: Considering standard rootstocks
I thought the foot sox were for protection against codling moths, not for deer? Anyway I doubt I would try to wrap each apple in a little sock.

What about harvesting from the ground... meaning, picking varieties that will fall without bruising (harder winter types) instead of messing with ladders? Does anyone do it this way? I have heard some people suggest this. The next question would be, what varieties would work well to do this?

Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:50 pm

Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2005 11:27 pm
Posts: 1188
Location: Yamhill County, Oregon
Post Re: Considering standard rootstocks
There are still quite a few standard apple trees scattered around old homesteads of the Pacific NW. Do they look like fun to you? I inherited around a dozen of them thirty years ago and have replaced all but 4 or 5. I found myself risking my life: pruning, thinning, spraying and harvesting them. Fruit would simply fall to the ground, and from such a height, be pretty-well wasted from bruising.

But personally, I tend to plant more aggressive trees. If you care to prune them yearly you can keep even the most aggressive of apples (try Gravenstein on seedling rootstock) in check. It’s actually kinda fun! Plus, if your soil’s crap, the more aggressive root system will find what it needs to nourish a half-decent tree, as opposed to an ever-anemic specimen on ‘dwarfing’ stock. They’re more work, but they provide more tree and fruit – your choice

As far as aftercare of newly grafted apple trees; I’d place them where you permanently want them. Just protect and water them. You never get all the roots during a transplant and it’s always a shock of sorts to the tree. The grafts will heal with no special care and full-sun is what they want.

Bear… had several beautiful trees lose major limbs this winter from a(nother) bear in the orchard. But keep in mind, these magnificent ‘Standard apple trees’ we see on old farmsteads didn’t just happen in a dozen or so years, many are likely moving in on a century, like mine. You can let them spread, but to acquire the girth to withstand a bear will take decades, even with Antonovka.

My recommendations? Go for it – the bigger the better and the more the merrier :mrgreen:

Temperate Orchard Convservancy:

Thu Apr 12, 2012 10:43 pm

Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 1:10 pm
Posts: 17
Post Re: Considering standard rootstocks
So I ordered 4 M111's and 4 Antonovkas... splitting the difference. I am now thinking that the Kazakhstan apples, which are listed in Botner's collection as Kazakhstan 93-xx-xx will go on standards and the named varieties (My Jewel, Chehalis, Wynooche Early, and Jupiter) will go on M-111's. The idea of the Kazakh apples is to provide genetic material for the creation of seedlings with good genetics. I suspect these were chosen for good eating qualities, out the thousands of seedlings the USDA team grew from the seedlings they collected from their Kazakhstan expeditions.

Here's some info on the 1993 collecting expedition:

Realistically I probably can't plant out these trees to their final locations this year, and that is because I have created my own dilemma by rushing forward without full preparation. In other words, I have more scions (and ultimately, trees) than I know what to do with yet. Enthusiasm gets the best of me. I must now take out a number of aging alders in order to make room, and that will happen over the next summer and winter as we fell these trees and then cut and split them for firewood.


Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:32 am
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