Big Apple Trees

Dwarfing rootstocks for apple trees have been a boon to both commercial growers and home gardeners alike.  They allow a much more efficient production and reduce the labor necessary to thin, prune, pick, and spray (if you do spray).

But there is something reassuring about an apple tree allowed to grow full-size; these are called “standard” or “seedling” rootstock trees; trees grown on roots that have been sprouted from an apple seed instead of on roots cloned from dwarfing rootstock.  They are the most vigorous, drought-resistant, best anchored, and longest-lived apple trees. 

As shown in the above photo (see the guy sitting on the branch) they can get humongous.  Depending on the variety, 20-30 feet tall is not uncommon.  The champion tree had a width of 75 feet, was 45 feet tall, and produced 450 crates of apples.  If the apples weren’t picked they piled two feet deep under the tree.

But I admit an apple tree on seedling rootstock this size is an abberation.  A more common size for seedlings is the above 90-year old Golden Delicious tree.  Seedling rootstock trees live so long because they basically outgrow anything that tries to harm them, from insects to storm damage.  Their tough, rope-like roots go deep and wide in search of water and nutrients, and extract them from even poor soils of sand and clay.  They are good for remote properties that may not get regular watering and are subject to harsh conditions.

Depending on the variety, they can take between 3-10 years to start producing.  But if you have the room and want a tree your grandkids can enjoy, plant a couple big apple trees. 

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One Response

  1. I would love to get some rooted cuttings or at least some scion wood off that humongous champion tree!

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