Dwarf Apple Tree

Jerseymec(6b)January 2, 2014

Does anyone have any L'il Big Apple trees from Henry Fields nursery? I would like to add an apple tree to my backyard and I was going through the catalog I received from Henryfields. Are these trees too short? will the branches break with the fruits? The only other option available is Standard trees, Do apple trees come in Semi-Dwarf rootstock? Also is there any benefit of having two trees (two different varieties for pollination purposes) versus a tree with two grafted apple varieties, given you have enough space in your yard. I'm mainly looking for fresh eating apples and for pies. I'm looking at Pixie crunch and sundance. I was considering the Bramley as well but not sure.

Thanks much

Thanks much

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I have ordered a few items from Gurney's (same company as Henry Fields) and have been happy with what they sent. Their Lil Big apple trees are on M27 rootstock and are very dwarfed. They will also need permanent stakes for the life of the tree for support(otherwise, it could fall over). Also, you will need to prevent it from fruiting for the first couple years, otherwise it could runt out and only grown 4ft tall. Gurney's is the only place I have been able to find the Pixie Crunch this season, but I would also check out Grandpa's Orchard and Raintree Orchard for other varieties of apple as they supply great trees and list their rootstocks. An apple on M7 or M26 will probably produce a slightly larger tree(10-12ft), but with much more vigor.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 10:59AM
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shazaam(NC 7B)

For an overview of apple rootstock options, take a look at this informative list from Orange Pippin Fruit Trees. M27 is fine if you want a very small tree, but there are plenty of intermediate options with more vigor. When I think of M27, I'm reminded of Michael Phillips' remark in The Apple Grower that the smallest dwarf trees "are too much like raising tomato plants for my tastes."

This post was edited by shazaam on Thu, Jan 2, 14 at 11:46

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 11:41AM
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I too received a catalog in the mail from Gurney's. I wondered what rootstock they were on to supposedly stay
5' tall.

I have no experience growing apples on M27 but I do on
M26, M7, M111 ect. It is my understanding that apples on
M27 can runt out as come into bearing so early they never
even reach 5' tall. I always heard that anyone growing apples on M27 will need to pull off any young fruit that
forms until the trees reach 5' tall or they could end up with
a 3' tree puts out all fruit spurs and never amounts to much
in yield.

Just passing this along in case it helps anyone buying
Gurney's apples on M27.

Not to knock Gurney's, but some of the prices they list on
their seeds and plants blew me away. $6 for a package of
beet seed? $5.99 on sweet corn? Too rich for me. I will
stay with my preferred sources.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 2:18PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

I bought a Lil Big Pixie Crunch from Henry Fields (same outfit as Gurneys) this spring. The original price was $62 (premium grade), which I would never have gone for. But when they put everything on sale for 75% off at the end of April, $15.50 made it a reasonable price.

Top: Goldcot apricot ($11), delux, 42" tall, 3/8" caliper
Bottom: Pixie Crunch ($15.50), premium, 39" tall, 1/2" caliper, well branched

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 11:27AM
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How did the Pixie grow during the first season?

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 12:21PM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

I planted it in a 7 gallon pot, so it didn't put out a ton of growth. It leafed out fine and grew 5-6", adding a few branches. I'll probably let it fruit soon. If I like it, I can plant the pot, as it's made of fabric.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 3:40PM
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tedgrowsit(6b PA)

I have both Pixie Crunch and Sundance from the companies mentioned, Gurneys and Henry Field's. I bought several years ago a Pixie Crunch in their LilBig format. Today that tree is about 8' tall and produces a wonderful crop of delightful and beautiful apples each year. I suspect I may have planted it a bit deep with the union below the soil line. The Sundance was a dwarf, which is a rather general term. It is about 10' tall and likewise produces excellent apples. Hope this helps. Ted

    Bookmark   January 3, 2014 at 9:18PM
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alan haigh

What they call "premium" is what most real nurseries sell as standard fair. When they are 75% off it's probably a pretty good deal if you are confident about truth of labeling.

It isn't the height but the caliber and root volume that is important if you want quickest possible establishment. Energy is stored in the roots and wood.

When you buy from a real nursery "dwarf'" isn't the description and you know or can look up the exact nature of the root stock by its actual name.

I recommend staying away from nurseries whose greatest investment is in mass mailings and usually don't grow their own trees. But then I live in an area where cost of living is high, labor is expensive and my time is relatively valuable. A cheap tree is usually no bargain here.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 6:09AM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

Ted, 8' is actually on the high side for M27 rootstock. Maybe the scion has rooted and has increased the vigor. If so, I'd expect it to eventually grow quite a bit more. I've got four 3 year old m27 trees and 3 of them are in the 4-5' range. Only one (Red Boskoop) is close to the 8' height that you have. For me, dwarf trees (B9, G11, G16, etc) seem to get to 8-11' by the end of the 2nd year, with B9 on the small end of that scale. So at 10', your dwarf Sundance tracks pretty well with what I see.

I agree with Harvestman about the potential for mislabeling. That's another reason I have it in a pot. If you're planning on making this tree an important part of your home orchard, I'd suggest a nursery like ACN, Cummins, or Grandpas. For me, it was just something I tossed into the order on a whim, out of curiosity.

But, I will say that assuming that the tree I got is actually on M27, it is pretty nice. Since M27 is so weak growing, a well branched, 1/2" caliper is actually pretty good. Here's the 5 M27's I got from Raintree in 2011. The 2nd from the bottom (the one with the largest root mass) never leafed out. For sizing context, the 2nd from the top is just under 2' long from union to tip.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 12:37PM
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tedgrowsit(6b PA)

Yes, I think my tree was either mislabeled or the scion has rooted. In either case I am happy with the size of the tree and the apples it produces.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2014 at 4:34PM
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Thanks everyone for the input. I'll stay clear of Henry Fields then. Does anyone know where else I could get the pixie crunch or a similar red apple? Also anyone try a Kidd's Orange red? Will these two pollinate each other?
Thanks much

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 1:17PM
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I wouldn't recommend streering clear of them. I would just say be informed about what you are getting. If you were wanting to get a more available apple(say GoldRush or Honeycrisp), I would choose elsewhere just based on you can get a larger grade bare root at other places for the same or less money and most nursuries do a better job of disclosing their rootstocks. However, I haven't been able to find Pixie Crunch anywhere else this season, so I picked one up from Gurneys this year on the M27 rootstock. Otherwise, I see no reason not to order from them. I have always had healthy and viable trees and berries sent to me and all thus far have been true to the variety ordered. All nursuries make mistakes, but I just think Gurneys gets a harder time around here due to their business model and appealing to the masses instead of the serious hobbiest.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2014 at 2:15PM
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What about those of us who need a northern-grown Pixie Crunch? Any recommendations for Pixie Crunch trees for zones 3-4?


    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 6:47AM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

Yes, Kidds Orange Red is a very good eating apple. Plenty sweet with lots of flavor. It would cross pollinate with Pixie Crunch, as both are diploids which are close to mid-bloom.

Sorry, I don't see any Pixie Crunch at the two northern nurseries I know of which grow their own trees (Fedco and Saint Lawrence).

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 10:35AM
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I have an old apple tree that is not producing well and I want to try grafting it as a last resort to cutting it down. I would love to try Pixie Crunch.

Anyone willing to trade me some Pixie Crunch Apple scion wood?

    Bookmark   March 7, 2014 at 2:04PM
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    Bookmark   March 9, 2014 at 12:14AM
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How much spread does a Pixie Crunch Lil Big get? I am planting relatively near my neighbor's fence and would prefer to not have it over their yard.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 10:07PM
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bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)

So last year I bought Goldrush Lil'Big from Gurneys (at 50% off, where was the 75% off sale when I needed it? gah!!!) and I let them fruit but they also grew up to 6ft. I pruned them a few weeks ago about a foot shorter. Should I not let them fruit this year? I want to keep them no taller than 5ft, but yield good amount of fruit. Last year I got 7 apples off the two trees. Thanks

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 4:00PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

" I haven't been able to find Pixie Crunch anywhere else this season, so I picked one up from Gurneys this year on the M27 rootstock."

I don't generally purchase trees from Gurneys/Henry Fields conglomerate. However, occasionally they offer varieties for which they negotiate exclusive licensing to sell. Pixie Crunch is one of those varieties. That's why you won't find any other nursery which sells it. Other examples (I believe) for which they have exclusive licensing are Flat Wonderful peach, Sugar Pearl apricot and KaBluey blueberry. Those fruit varieties are also patent protected, which would make it illegal to privately propagate.

Beware that Gurneys/Henry Fields will sometimes rename and trademark an old variety, making it appear as though they have an exclusive offering when it's really an old cultivar jazzed up with marketing hype to make it look new. Their Li'l Big rootstock would be an example of this.

Starks is another outfit which likes to rename existing cultivars.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 9:37AM
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bob_z6(6b/7a SW CT)

You got nice trees if two were able to produce 7 apples in the first year and put on some growth. I've never had a tree make more than one apple in the first year. At this point, I'll probably trim any off in my new trees, as first year trees have put too much energy into the apple and grew very little for me. But, 6 feet tall is pretty big for a Goldrush on M27. It makes me wonder if that is the rootstock you really got (you can confirm the Goldrush part by the apples...).

I've seen Pixie Crunch at Cummins (currently out of stock), so I don't think it is exclusive to G/HF. But, I know there are other exclusives. One current example is the Romeo bush cherry at Springhill (also part of the same conglomerate). I'd like to get one, but I'm not sure if I want it enough to order from them. I may wait until HoneyberryUsa has them in.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 12:34PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

"I've seen Pixie Crunch at Cummins (currently out of stock), so I don't think it is exclusive to G/HF."

My mistake Bob. I thought the conglomerate had an exclusive on that one. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2014 at 8:07PM
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