dwarf vs standard apple saplings- how to tell the difference

ridgescoolJuly 29, 2012

I am new to grafting apple trees, but had about a 60% success rate on the 25 I did this spring. I have several apple saplings growing that are of unknown rootstock that I plan on grafting next spring. They were 'volunteers' from a place that makes cider and throws the squeezings into a heap. Of the 20 growing, about half, are twice as tall as the others an have few branches shooting out. The other half are almost bushy, with many small branches shooting out on all side.

I am thinking that the shorter ones with all the branches are of more dwarf roostock origin than the others. Can anyone confirm this or give advice as to how to tell the difference?

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Do you mean the saplings grew from seeds left over in the squeezing? I would think they were all standard types. If they grew from seeds from standard apples.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 9:02PM
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dmtaylor(5a (WI))

I think it would be quite a stretch to assume that apples grown from seed, even from dwarf rootstock apples if that were the case, could be expected to be dwarfing at all. Apples from seed, even from known parentage, are as similar as Larry, Moe, and Curly. All are the same species for certain, and yet each is unique. It's possible you could luck out with some dwarfing apples, but I don't think you would know it at this early stage in development, and I think it's equally possible that the shorter bushier seedlings have just been nipped by deer or rodents, or have some disease or are short on water, or whatever, which could have stunted their growth, unless you have controlled each seedling exactly the same since inception. Truly, I think the only way to know what you'll end up with is to wait 10 years and see what you end up with! I would bet that even professional apple breeders would agree with me.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2012 at 10:06PM
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alan haigh

A standard apple tree is a tree grown on seedling rootstock, as are your saplings. That is how almost all trees were grown in this country until about 100 years ago. Seedling trees vary in vigor just as the varieties that you graft on them vary a great deal. However most of the seedlings are bound to create very vigorous trees and I believe it is unlikely any will be less vigorous than 111 rootstock.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 5:51AM
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Thanks for the input. I guess i was just hoping to have dwarf rootstock, but it is doubtful that I do.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 6:03PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

Well....at some point that is the only way to come up with new varieties, so you may get lucky...I know they do it on a very large scale at the university in Minnesota...but you'd need a lot of room. Would love to try it if i had the acreage...just plant out a couple hundred and whatever is garbage, just graft over to my favorite, Honeycrisp,..

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 7:01PM
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