Suggestions needed for apple seedling, what next?

edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)July 27, 2014

Have been growing this since winter, and it's growing fairly fast. Forgot what type of apple it is, and realize there's no telling if and when any decent apples will appear. My son and I are just having fun growing our own tree. It's about 3 feet tall and getting some branches. Seems a bit lanky and the wind is blowing it around. Should I prune it at all? Seems like it still has some time left to go in the pot it's currently in. There's a small stake in the pot for a little stability.

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TurCre(5 SoCentral NE)

Wind is good it will help thicken up the main leader. If the wind is severe put it in a sheltered, temporary location until the wind lessens. I wouldnt prune the tree, it looks good as is. It will eventually need a permanent home unless it is on a dwarf rootstock. Even then you will need to repot eventually.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 7:27PM
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TurCre(5 SoCentral NE)

Wind is good it will help thicken up the main leader. If the wind is severe put it in a sheltered, temporary location until the wind lessens. I wouldnt prune the tree, it looks good as is. It will eventually need a permanent home unless it is on a dwarf rootstock. Even then you will need to repot eventually.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 7:30PM
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appleseed70

Ditto everything TurCre said. I'd dig a hole at season's end and set the pot in the ground to prevent the roots from freezing. After all danger of hard freezes are over remove the pot and fill back in the hole. This will be before it breaks dormancy. During the early winter try to line up a piece of scionwood from a variety you like and when the time is right graft it over.
That tree looks nice and healthy and exhibiting pretty good growth characteristics for a seedling. It will make a nice tree for you.
One word of caution, if you do elect to heel the pot in the ground...DON'T leave it there into the growing season. The roots will punch holes right through that plastic pot. I did it one year with 4 trees and every one of them did that. Lots more work. Also, you might be surprised how quickly that tree will become root bound in that pot. You might even want to get it into something bigger before healing it in if you aren't going to plant it out next year.
Oh...one other thing...you do know the tree size will be unknown...right? Being seedling rootstock it'll likely grow to ultimately be a pretty large tree. Old timers used Northern Spy seed because for some reason unknown to me they most often produced trees that were medium sized. I think this is still fairly common practice in Australia (in fact, I know it is).

    Bookmark   Thanked by edweather    July 27, 2014 at 11:59PM
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lucky_p

Well, this will become a 'standard' apple tree; if you look at the labels on trees at the nursery, they often say "semi-dwarf - 12-18 ft" - that's as tall as a 2 story house. On standard rootstock, the label should read, "Will be as big as an apartment building, please purchase additional property."
Thx to E.L.

Nothing wrong with growing out a seedling - and it's great that you're doing this with your son - but, as you indicated, there is no telling what fruit quality will be - could be great, could be crappy - and you'll likely be waiting 10+ years for fruit.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 7:33AM
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curtis(5)

As Lucky said this tree will probably be inclined to grow very large. However pruning it each year will prevent that. Maybe have to prune it twice many years, in march and around the 4th of July. Does not really matter what apple the seed came from, it will be quite a bit different from that and only like a 10% chance it will be any good. So read up on grafting and make some friend who can send you some good varieties to graft onto it and then you will have an awesome tree in less then 10 years.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 10:06AM
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appleseed70

cckw...there is no where near a 10% chance of it being any good. I know what your saying, but Ed might think 10% is good enough odds to consider growing it out. The odds are really way, way less than 1% Ed.
Grafting it over will give you good fruit in 4 years. Don't kid yourself...I've grown out a bunch of these and they usually are tall wirey trees with a zillion lanky weird branches. When you do get fruit a decade from now it will almost certainly be odd shaped weird little balls of chalky sourness.
I'll have some scion wood for you this February if your interested from disease free quality varieties. How's Honeycrisp sound? It's widely considered one of, if not "the" best eating apples you can get. It's beyond spectacular here, and will be even better in your climate. If you are limited on space finding a variety that is less vigorous might be the way to go. Goldrush would be a good choice, but I won't have any surplus wood from it this year. Somebody here can definitely hook you up.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 11:12AM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Wow. Thanks for all the helpful replies. I'm definitely apple tree ignorant, which is why I asked. As far as over-wintering goes, do I have to keep it outside, or can I over-winter it in the garage? Attached garage with temps never below 30F, and most of the time between 40F-45F. Our winters can be severe, and last year I lost a container blueberry. Am afraid the roots would freeze solid if the pot was only a foot deep in the ground.

Living in Central NY near Lake Ontario, I am familiar with lots of apple orchards around here....basically apple tree heaven for growing apples. Yes, familiar with Honeycrisp. It's one of our favorites. Appleseed70, I might be in touch when the time comes. Have never grafted anything before, but it sounds exciting to try it. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 7:42PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

I hope I'm not hijacking but I have been wondering why it is that apples DO fall far from the tree. Are apple genetics far more complicated than stone fruits? If you plant a peach pit you will likely get a decent peach, but the same is not for apples. Why?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 11:34PM
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curtis(5)

Appleseed, you are right, I was being too polite, your % is more accurate then mine.

Regarding the % on stone fruit as mentioned by milehighgirl, I have experience with only one of those. The peaches tasted fine to good but less then a half inch of flesh between the skin and seed. We cut it off and rind grafted Winblo onto it. think of how much further ahead this tree would be if it had been grafted to in it's first year, rather then waiting to see what happened.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 9:58AM
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lucky_p

mhg,
I can't speak specifically from any scientific basis with regard to the variability in seedling apples - but I've eaten plenty of 'pippins' - seedlings that just popped up where someone discarded an apple core - and most were just fine.
I've often seen that 1 in 10,000 figure thrown out - but that would likely be the 'one' that has decent flavor/texture/disease resistance, and can stand up to picking, transport, and storage to 'make it' as a well-received fruit in the grocery.
For home consumption and use, I'd hazard a guess that far more would 'make the grade'; they might not be great, but certainly serviceable.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 12:57PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Peaches are almost all self-fruitful. Apples require another variety to pollinize them. I would think there would be more "shuffling" of the genes when there are twice as many genes for nature to select from, as in the case of apples. More randomized genetic shuffling would mean fruit falls farther from the tree.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 10:54PM
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appleseed70

Olpea...that is a great point and one I've never thought of. I do think though there might be another reason for it. I think I read about it a long time ago, but cannot remember the reason.
In any case there is no doubt in my mind you are right about the more randomized gene shuffling.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 11:43PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

What about stone fruits that are not self fertile? Do they vary much?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 12:11AM
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appleseed70

good question milehighgirl. I was wondering the same thing. I guess the odds would still be better than an apple, because even if the peach was not self fertile, it or it's parents would likely have at some point bred with a self fertile variety. Going back to olpea's point, that would then mean less randomized gene shuffling.
Knowing the true answer to your question though would be interesting.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 12:43PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

"What about stone fruits that are not self fertile? Do they vary much?"

I have no firsthand experience growing seedlings to fruit, so I'm only going on what I've read and/or speculation.

My guess is stone fruit seedlings would not vary as much as apple, even stone fruit which require pollen partners.

Apples probably have more genetic variability in nature than other fruits. According to the article linked at the bottom, apples have 57,000 genes, which is more than other fruits.

From the article: "The total number of genes predicted for the apple genome (57,386, including some genes that may be present only in one of the two chromosomes of a pair) is the highest reported among plants so far."

As a comparison peach has 28,000 genes.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Genome of the Domesticated Apple

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 9:05AM
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appleseed70

Wow Olpea...thank link was some pretty heady stuff.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 10:09AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

I can't possibly absorb what is in this article.

This topic reminded me about an article Konrad linked to.

Here is a link that might be useful: Inbreeding

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 1:14AM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

......"You might even want to get it into something bigger before healing it in..."

Should I wait until dormancy to re-pot? ...and can I bury the root ball a little, or does it need to stay level with the new soil?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 1:19PM
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appleseed70

Wait until it's fully dormant to do anything. Maintain the soil level as it is right now...don't plant any deeper...these aren't tomatoes. When you heel it in the ground this winter (if you elect to do so) again...maintain the pot soil level with that of the surrounding ground. Go deeper and you risk the soil in the pot becoming water logged in the spring. Plant too shallow and you may get freeze damage. Err on the side of shallower if you must.
I thought you were going to keep it in your unheated garage? I think that would probably be ok, I've done things similar to that before without any issue. If you are a bit sketchy about that wrap some old rugs or something around the pot to help mediate frigid winter night temps.
H'man, olpea, scott...you have any other suggestions, or ideas for Ed?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 4:48PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

OK, thanks. I wasn't sure if it would be ok to keep in the garage. If we have a warm winter like a couple of years ago, it might break bud early like a couple of my container blueberries did. In that warm winter the garage was pretty warm, barely ever below freezing. Last winter was cold and it probably would have been ok. I was concerned about losing the window where I could do a successful graft like you suggested.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 7:49PM
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appleseed70

Ed...you don't want to graft yet. I'd wait until you had it outside...whether planted out or outside in the pot.
I only first grafted this year, so I'm far from an expert, but I've done a ton of reading on the subject. I followed the median of all that I read.
You can graft it while it's still dormant and a lot of folks do that, but I think only in say late March or early April.
I have not tried that so I'll say no more on the subject.
I read that the best time was just breaking dormancy when the largest leaves were the size of mouse ears, or squirrel ears.
That's what I did and I got a 100% take and are growing well. To test this timing window I did it again maybe 3 weeks later when the tree was fairly well leafed out. The result of that experiment was 100% failure. So it seems timing is key. There are tons of videos on youtube showing you "how to", some are terrible, but many are very, very good. Also, you likely have everything you need in your house to graft...you don't need to go buying a grafting knife, latex sealer, parafilm and all that stuff.
A lot of the pros don't use any of that stuff, and knife aside none of that stuff existed years ago and millions of trees were successfully grafted with high degrees of reliability. I did get parafilm because it was cheap, but it wasn't really necessary.
It's probably just about the most satisfaction one can get for free, without contracting an STD...lol
Think about what you want...if you want Honeycrisp I'll send it to you for free, but think about it. Hit up Harvestman or Scott Smith...ask for their advice. They really are pros.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 9:55PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Thanks for the advice. I really appreciate it. Sorry if I was confusing, but I wasn't thinking of grafting until next spring. And yes, I'll definitely be in touch for a Honeycrisp scion. I have seen a couple of youtube videos. It looks fairly simple, but having never done it before, nothing is simple. The video I saw, which I thought was pretty good, showed the grafting in early spring with the tree basically still dormant. I looking forward to it, and my main concern is keeping my fast growing little tree going until spring. Do you think it'll be large enough in the spring to graft on to? I probably will put the pot into the ground up against the house.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 10:30PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Thanks for the advice. I really appreciate it. Sorry if I was confusing, but I wasn't thinking of grafting until next spring. And yes, I'll definitely be in touch for a Honeycrisp scion. I have seen a couple of youtube videos. It looks fairly simple, but having never done it before, nothing is simple. The video I saw, which I thought was pretty good, showed the grafting in early spring with the tree basically still dormant. I looking forward to it, and my main concern is keeping my fast growing little tree going until spring. Do you think it'll be large enough in the spring to graft on to? I probably will put the pot into the ground up against the house.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 10:38PM
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appleseed70

I think it will be large enough Ed. I suspect whip and tongue will be the likely graft for that tree. I did bark and cleft. Cleft grafts I would say are far easier than whip and tongue, but clefts I think are usually used on trees or branches 1" dia. or more.
Whatever you do, DON'T put that tree up against your house.
When lucky, cckw, olpea and others was telling you that tree would get big...they weren't kidding. I'm not sure you can appreciate just how big and how quickly. Seedling trees in most cases will grow to standard size 15 feet tall and 15' wide. Forget trying to keep it pruned...it'll be a mess and besides there are other good reasons for keeping it away from the house...like air circulation, and so when spraying your not spraying crap all over your house. When the wind blows the branches will be ripping the hell out of your siding and the tree itself. It also benefits greatly from full sun...in fact, it must have full sun, or as near to that as possible.
Find somewhere out in the open with good S-SW exposure and figure on pruning it a lot if that area is small. Remember...15' X 15' that's Honeycrisp on seedling (standard) rootstock! That's pretty damn big Ed...it'll look even bigger.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2014 at 11:50PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Thanks for the information. Again, I must be losing my communication skills :-) Apologize for any confusion. I was only thinking of tucking it in next to the house for the winter. No way would I plant it there. Will have to check out some whip and tongue, and bark graft videos. I saw a cleft graft video where the guy sawed off a small branch and then split it and inserted two scions into it. I really appreciate the feedback. Th this point I can't talk enough about the project, and Definitely don't want to mess it up. I'd have to deal with a very disappointed 6 year old.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 11:10AM
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appleseed70

No...I misunderstood Ed.
Ed, the cleft graft is what I did on my seedling also (2 of the grafts. Just like you said, inserting a small piece of scion wood about 3-4" in length on both sides. The beauty of that type of graft is that the split wood kinda acts as a vise, firmly holding your scion in place. This is helpful because it allows you to very carefully line up the cambium layers and holds everything in place while you tape and seal it.
My seedling tree was already about 1 1/2" in dia. where I sawed it off...it was a couple years old and grew with a double trunk. I purposely let it grow that way knowing I was eventually going to practice grafting it.
While I suppose a cleft could work on a small dia. tree, I don't think it would be the best grafting method. I watched a lot of videos of folks grafting seedlings and I think nearly all used whip and tongue for the small stuff.

I keep hoping some of the pros will drop by here and give you the straight dope...again...I've made all of 7 successful grafts in my life. I'll post some pics of that thing soon, but at this point it's not much to look at. BTW...I used cheap latex brown caulk as a sealer. That's really all the professional stuff is as far as I can tell...just a really super thick latex paint.
Check out 67impala (maybe 69impala) on youtube. Cool guy and has been a professional grafter all his life. His videos are well done and slowed down. When they go full speed thru an orchard it's unbelievable.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 8:34PM
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greyphase(6A)

I was born with 5 thumbs on each hand (just kidding) and I find the cleft graft much easier than the whip and tongue. I've had very good luck the last two years using this graft on my rootstocks. This is a cleft graft after it has callused over.
http://i653.photobucket.com/albums/uu253/Greyphase/RedLimbertwig9-12-13010.jpg
I had about an 80% success rate this year with the cleft graft.

Dave Wilson Nursery has a good video on YouTube on the different types of grafts. They all work if done right.

Rick

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 2:04PM
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