Apple seeds

dregaeFebruary 23, 2014

On a job my husband had he found an apple tree growing out by itself in a patch of woods. There were no other apple trees around and the tree was loaded with some of the most delicious apple we have ever had. The tree was very old around twenty feet tall and he couldn't find any signs of a graft. He saved a bunch of seeds and we started some of them in the fridge. I would be very grateful for any advice that would help me succeed with this project. Should I plant it on its own roots or attempt to graft it

Grace e

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You will have to graft them. The seeds are a cross between the tree and whatever tree was the pollinator. You have no idea what the pollinator was. It could be a crabapple. The fruit you grow most likely will be poor. My ten year old son had an idea, because we have a bunch growing from seed as well. We will save one limb from the original seedling, but graft the other limbs and central leader. Just in case we have something special. I hear you odds of getting decent apple are 1/10,000...but honey crisp was found this way.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 12:51PM
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Just because he can't see the graft doesn't mean it isn't a grafted tree. the person planting may have planted it deep or etc.

As stated above the seeds from it are of no value. You would need to plant them and grow a small tree, or buy rootstock, then get a cutting off of that tree and graft it on.

Now,, depending on what apples you have eaten in the past maybe this tree is a big deal and maybe it isn't. If compared to grocery store apple it is not hard to find better when picking ripe. On the other hand the fact that this tree thrives without attention is a positive and I would be inclined to try it out..

Trees like Honeycrisp are not chance seedlings, they are from deliberate cross pollination, then countless trees of the same parentage grown to try to get a good set a genes in a few. Then possible candidates are grafted into many trees for years of study before being released (or not).

there are some good varieties out there that are chance seedlings though.

I do encourage you to continue on the project. If you are going to graft this spring you will need to buy rootstock, you can find it at raintree nursery and other places like that.

Keep reading on this forum it is very reliable. there is lots of wrong info on the web in general and when watching youtube videos be sure it is someone who knows something.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 10:37AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

You could grow the seeds out and save a branch of whatever the seed will become (an later may decide to remove) and form another branch or two with the known variety (that you graft/bud on). could grow out your seed, graft that to a known variety (probably get sooner flowering) that you buy and also have the other tree you love so much grafted onto that tree too (3 in 1)???

I think you will have to graft if you want to have that exact same fruit. The seeds are going to be so iffy. Plus seeded trees I believe are usually monsters (BIG). I know they grow super fast (i have a number of seedling trees/but i graft onto them).

You can spring graft (when dormant) or you can summer bud. Lots of utube videos/help on here.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 11:12AM
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glenn_10 zone 4b/5a NewBrunswick,Can.

Back in 1999 as a young man before I knew anything........I found an apple tree growing in the ditch on a dirt road about 10 miles from any houses. It was thriving and had the best apples I had ever eaten. They were big, blood red, flesh was pink for the first half inch or so with amazing red veins flowing through it!
Now that I have my own house and a family with our little hobby farm and a love for growing food/fruits for them, we go on an hour long drive/pilgrimage every fall to where I "think" the road was back then.
We have been going on this drive for 4 years now and have not found it!
Don't let this one get away from you, get some root stock and graft it. Maybe you can share some scions of this fabulous find! Count me in!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 7:21PM
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I agree with glenn10 varieties disappear everyday so get some rootstock and graft it this year while there is time. Seedling fruit trees are something we grow because we enjoy it and it's rewarding. Once in awhile we grow something incredible. Attached is a picture of apples from a tree I grew from seed. It has an incredible flavor unlike anything we have ever tasted! We were not expecting apples already from this tree so we did not even spray it for pests. The odds against growing a fantastic apple are not as great as many claim. These seeds were collected from wild apples .

Here is a link that might be useful: apple rootstock

This post was edited by ClarkinKS on Tue, Feb 25, 14 at 3:20

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 11:10PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

I love this thread! And it makes me think of the legend of Johnny Appleseed! All those seeds he planted everywhere are the ancestors of our apples. Some had to be really good!

Or is that just a legend? I like to think it's true! It gives all us garden types hope that one day one of our seedlings will be amazing!

I'd like to be on your scion list too! I have 2 Anna apple trees, so plenty of place to try a graft! Edit: I'm in the wrong zone for your yummy apple! My apples are the low chill hour kind. I wish you lots of luck with your seeds and grafts!


This post was edited by desertdance on Tue, Feb 25, 14 at 9:16

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 9:12AM
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Thank you so much for each of your replys. My husband is going to try and get permission to go take some cutting from the original tree. If he gets to do that I will definatly try grafting. It is something I have always wanted to try!! (I grew up in the orange orchards in az). I think I will still grow the seeds and graft a branch of it onto another tree just for fun to see what comes about.

Grace e

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 10:07AM
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Are you going to plant immediately or start in a pot? I would suggest getting multiples to be sure you get at least one survivor. There are many things to go wrong, like not a deep enough connection, moving it slightly when wrapping it. a bird lands on it, kids, pets, stray cats. If in pots frequent rain can drown it, etc

Feel free to ask questions. As you can see many people here are interested and want to help you succeed with this.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 10:24AM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

I remember about 5 or 6 years ago I was working on a jobsite by the arkansas river right next to a huge highway. At lunch I was just walking around killing time and found a huge peach tree next to the overpass. It was late summer and they had all fallen or been eaten but it amazed me how it was just there all by itself. next to a highway with no attention from man at all. For years I have wondered how it got there. Last time I drove by there it think it was still there so I may check on it this summer and see if they are any good.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 4:49PM
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If we are able to get cuttings I plan trying to get several just to hedge my bet. I would be grateful for any advice on taking cuttings. I am trying to wade through the info on the internet and there is almost to much info and much of it contradicts the sites info!!

Grace e

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 1:27AM
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When you get cuttings from a tree get the scion cutting from new growth on the tree that are approximately the diameter of a pencil. I use a crescent wrench to measure exact diameter of the rootstock and then use that setting to get the exact same sized branch of scion wood from the mother tree. The new growth is on the tips of the branches and can be seen even when the tree is dormant. When the tree is dormant is the best time to make cuttings which is for most of the Midwest and Northern areas now and sometime during the next month roughly. If the buds swell on the tree you have waited to long to get scions for dormant grafting. You are going to need a few things which is a grafting tool or knife , grafting tape or rubber bands or freezer bags , tangle foot sealer or something similar. Here are a couple of places to get what you need

Amazon is usually a one stop shop to get everything you need
Watch this video first
Watch this video second
Watch this video third
Watch this video fourth and you will see the advantage of a grafting tool for a beginner
Note All the videos are using different methods but they all are driving towards the same purpose which is to try to get the scion wood attach to the rootstock that is the exact same or close diameter. They all then will wrap the cut they joined together with tape and paint that taped area over with a tar like or wax substance. I will attach a link to
Stephen Hayes youtube channel because he is very good at what he does. We use very different methods but he is a true master. I deviate from his method by using actual grafting tape instead of freezer bags and string, tanglefoot instead of wax for sealer, sometimes I use a knife like he does but for the most part it takes longer so if you can use a grafting tool its a fast exact way to garft. Try both methods. So now you need to decide on root stock. Here are some links with some info on rootstock and I recommend mm111 or Antonovka root stock
I would recommend you get 5 or more rootstocks because they wont all take. It is likely the first year 2 of the 5 will take due to things outside your control. The ones that don't take you can graft again next year.

Here is a link that might be useful: Stephen Hayes Grafting Channel

This post was edited by ClarkinKS on Fri, Feb 28, 14 at 5:46

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 5:34AM
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" I hear you odds of getting decent apple are 1/10,000."

I hate when people repeat stuff like this. If you pull an apple seed from an orchard your chances of getting a decent apple are probably in excess of 75%.

Your chances of getting a MARKETABLE apple are 1/10000. Why? Because you have to hit all of the boxes of storability, color, taste, size, etc.

Fantastic tasting apple thats patchy looking and small? Junk in a commercial orchard, great in a home orchard.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 4:05PM
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ClarkinKS is exactly what I'm talking about - those apples aren't marketable because they're too small. But I'm sure they taste good, so for Clark they're an absolute success. For most of us they'd be a great find.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 4:08PM
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Joppa the flavor on this apple is remarkable among remarkable apples. I plan to graft many of them as cider apples and as a novelty based on flavor. Have you seen the size of a Dolgo crabapple? I have not personally but I think they are a smaller size. There is a market once someone tastes these at a farmers market . To your point my farm is large and these are my pet project and not the primary fruit I plant for the reasons you mentioned. People still play the lottery and their odds are worse. The people who are lucky enough to grow a gem like this tree will feel lucky indeed but you're right about not expecting a good apple because you could wait 10 years or longer and it taste terrible. I planted a row of wild apples because I was looking for an apple like this one. It will take another 5 years to find out how they do on mm111 and to see if they are indeed the cider apple I believe they are. Time will tell on disease resistance , fruit bearing ability, Etc. I still am waiting to see if any of that row make viable rootstock for my other trees.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 6:05AM
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What joppa said - that 1 in 10,000 figure that's thrown around refers to the likelihood that a resulting seedling apple will hit all those targets - size/shape/color/flavor/disease resistance/ripening time/storability, etc. It's a tough mark to reach.
Sometimes you just stumble onto a 'gem'.

We had several seedling apples growing around the farmstead where I grew up - all, I'm sure, the result of someone pitching an apple core into the fenceline. All were OK - but probably had little commercial appeal.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 8:00AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

Grace e, trying to figure out something from the web is amazing! One guy swears to do it one way, and another, a different conflicting way. It's really tough!

I listen intently to all the grafters in garden web because I see that as something we will have to master here in our gardens. I'll probably practice with roses. There is a lot of wild stock growing here, and I have many beautiful roses to try on that wild stuff.

I wish you luck with the grafts, and be sure to get enough so you'll have some that take!


    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 10:15AM
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