Apple (Rootstock)

Apple Rootstocks are one of the unique aspects of apple growing. There is no other above-ground crop where so much attention has been devoted to roots! There are about 100 rootstocks for the major tree-fruits, and more than 20 for apple. Some of these rootstocks-like M.7 and M.9-can be traced back hundreds or thousands of years in history. In this bulletin we describe the relative strengths and weaknesses of apple rootstocks commonly available from fruit-tree nurseries.

Apple varieties are propagated by taking vegetative buds from a young shoot (scion) of the desired variety (i.e. a 'McIntosh,' 'Jonagold' or other named cultivars) and grafting those buds onto another tree branch or small sapling. This is necessary because the seeds of each apple are the result of pollination from a different apple tree species or variety. This makes each seedling a genetically unique individual with unpredictable traits; for example, seedlings sprouted from 'Granny Smith' apples might produce tiny red crab apples!

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