The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Three-year-old espaliered apples

Apple blossom

Those of you considering variety and rootstock selection for apples might get a kick out of some numbers from our three-year-old apple espaliers. These trees were all grafted by me in April 2014, then they were set out into their forever homes that fall. Here's the data:

  • Dead: Liberty (M7), King David (M7), Kidd's Orange Red (M7)
  • Not doing well: Honeycrisp (MM111)
  • Blooming: Winesap (M7), Early Harvest (MM111)
  • Good but vegetative: Pound Pippin (MM111), Red Delicious (MM111), Wolf River (MM111), Winesap (MM111), Chestnut Crab (M7)
Apple espalier

Based on this data, I suspect that M7 rootstock isn't quite cold hardy enough for our farm, at least not if I plant up against the hillside where very little winter sun hits. On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised if the M7 Winesap is an early bloomer because of its rootstock (as opposed to the Early Harvest, which is noted for precocious bearing).

Honeycrisp, if I recall correctly, was hit hard by cedar apple rust last summer. I think I meant to pull the tree out, actually, but it was granted a stay of execution until this year. That's a variety problem not a rootstock problem, and despite how much Mark loves the apples, I wouldn't plant a Honeycrisp again in a no-spray orchard.

The other varieties seem vigorous and happy. Maybe next year, even those on MM111 will bloom!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Nice! Have you had any problems with Cedar Apple Rust? I've had tons and someone suggested getting pears instead. Then the extension service said pears get rust as well. I put in two pears, two plums and, based on one of your online references got a combination red and golden Delicious. The last doesn't appear to be doing as well as the others as it's just now starting to leaf out, but it is early in the season.

Which one of your experiments do you think you'll continue and which do you think you'll kill other than the ones that are already dead?

Comment by Nayan Mon Apr 17 12:52:21 2017

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