M111 Rootstock

Well, it’s official; from now on all the trees we graft for sale or ourselves will be on EMLA 111 (virus-certified M111)  rootstock.   It has been a long road getting here but the last 5 years have proven once again that when growing apples in a hot climate, you cannot always listen to conventional wisdom.  I recommend this rootstock for all uses; for large specimin trees to small espaliers on close spacing.  I know this may sound confusing to some, but I’ve thought this out long and hard and summarized my conclusions in a paper you can download at http://www.kuffelcreek.com/GrowingApples/Rootstock%20Synopsis.pdf

I’m afraid I’m a late-comer to this conclusion, as my friend Tom Spellman from Dave Wilson nursery has recommended M111 for years for backyard orchardists in Southern California.  I’ll remain in this camp until some other rootstock comes along that proves superior (maybe Hashabi from Israel?).


23 Responses

  1. Hashasbi?

  2. Hashabi is a line of rootstocks introduced in Israel that combined the local naturalized seedlings with the English Malling rootstocks for adaptability to alkaline soils, high soil temperatures, wooly aphid resistance, and resistance to replant disease. It has replaced M9 as the most productive apple rootstock in Israel. I arranged for its importation into the USA in spring of 2009, where it is undergoing virus therapy at USDA-APHIS. They told me it was really dirty (not surprising after 2,000 years of cultivation) and may take several years to clean up.

  3. Hi Kevin,

    I live in a condo (Azusa, CA) with the tiniest back yard. What little soil I have has been used up by my wife with roses. I am looking for advice on rootstocks that will perform well in containers and can be transplanted to soil later once we get some land. Will M111 be happy with this treatment? Any advice on potting soils?

  4. Hello from South Georgia. Great blog.

    I have learned my lesson as well on dwarfing root stocks but for a couple of different reasons.
    Squirrels, you either have to have enough apples for them to try or the tree needs to be tall enough to circle tree with an electric fence. They can jump to those low limbs on a dwarf.

    Second, our sandy soil just want let a dwarfed apple tree have enough holding strength.

  5. Hi! From North Florida (Jacksonville),

    I’m super new to this “root” stocking business. I saw it on a T.V. show last night and fell in love with the idea. I have a few questions.
    1.) What root stock do i need for the area that I live in whether wise that will do the best?
    2.) I want the biggest and baddest trees 🙂 So is there a special root stock i would need for that?
    3.) Does the terrain have any affect on the way the tree grows?
    4.) Here were i live what time of the year is the best time to clip the branches to pair up with the root stock?
    5.) What time of year is best to put the clippings and root stock to together?
    6.) Here were I live you wouldn’t expect our winters to be that cold well, your wrong for a whole week and a half we had tempatures below 20deg in the evening, night and up until about noon, so would i need to cover them or do they thrive in whether like that?

    • You will want a vigorous rootstock like M111, but the biggest, most long-lived rootstock is still “seedling”, one grown from seed. Apples are commonly grown on hillsides. January to March is the typical time for grafting, and apples are quite hardy down to 20 degrees below zero, not a problem in Florida. You can see more grafting videos at our YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/kuffelcreek

  6. Kevin: As a pretty new apple grower trying to get a backyard orchard going and I am getting pretty confused as to which roostock to use and how to prune. I am a little north of Atlanta in zone 7 and have red clay soil. I really like the advantages of the tall spindle pruning method-(manageable size and more dense plantings) and would like to use that method but you are the first I have heard say that you can do use the tall spindle method on M-111 roostock apple trees. Could you elaborate (or refer me to publications) on how I go about keeping the tree small enough and how to promote lateral branching for the tall spindle method without cutting the trees central leader?

    I planted 9- M-111 trees last fall, they all have central leaders over 10 feet but not much lateral branching. I would like to keep the trees no more that 8-10 feet tall and small enough for 8 foot spacing but I am not sure how to accomplish that.

    Love your website, blog and your boldness to share your faith, thanks, Chris.

    • Chris- Next year the tree will branch out more, and you can control the tree’s size and promote fruiting by clipping rocks on the ends of these branches so that they droop down like a weeping willow. You have to get them while they’re still young to start this. Don’t prune the central leader, it may flop over and even snap off (don’t worry about it). You may have colder winters that give the tree more vigor, so this may or may not work for you. Thanks for your kind comments.

  7. Kevin: I have not forgotten your advise from last year concerning keeping my M-111 smaller, I planted the tree in 11/2011 and the central leader is already close to 10 feet. have tied down the branches and come up with the idea of bending the central leader over (see enclosed picture), Is this a good idea? Should I leave the CL bent over long term?. Thanks, Chris.


    • Chris- yes, this is what is recommended.

  8. Is the M 111 root stock used only on apple trees ? or can it be used with Apples and Oranges and other fruit nut trees ?

    Thank you
    Eric R

    • M111 is used exclusively for apple trees; each other varieties has their own specialized rootstocks.

  9. Hi Kevin,

    Love your website and videos. I am pretty conservative since I have limited space and like to get the most yield I can from my small trees. I have a two year old Anna that produce a ton of great looking fruit this year. A one year old Dorsett Golden the gave about 10 apples and a new Einshemer all on M111.

    I live in Eastvale pretty close to you off the 15 between the 60 and 91 So I have two questions.

    1. I know chill hours are over stated but will a Granny Smith work well for me? I also get some high winds,

    2. I have a spot for a espalier tree that would be right next to another Dorset Golden and across from a Gala. Any suggestions?

    Thank you again for the great work you are doing with apples and for your love of schools and helping other countries learn to feed themselves.


    • Hi Don;

      Granny Smith does fine here in Southern California and ours is loaded each year. Ein Shemer is worthless and you should consider replacing it with a decent tree like Fuji. For the espalier tree, King David is beautiful.

      Thanks for the note.

  10. Sir,

    Thank you for your reply. I will take your advice, the Ein Shemer is coming out tomorrow. Where can I get a King David? Also if I could find one already started in an espalier that would be amazing.

    Thanks again.


  11. Does virus therapy eliminate possibilities for valuable genetic mutations spurred by viral interaction?

    • Not at all. Apples have an extremely wide genetic variability viruses or not; this would be more valuable in a plant that reproduces true to seed, such as heirloom tomatoes.

  12. Hi Kevin,
    You mentioned that the Ein Shemer is worthless. Can you explain a little. I value what you say since I have limited space. My Anna is doing great. I am hoping if I do replace it I will be able to find a larger King David like you suggest so I don’t feel like I wasted a season with the Ein Shemer.

    Thank you so much. I live in Eastvale just about 10 miles from Riverside.


    • Ein Shemer goes from starchy tart to mushy bland in record time, and blossoms too late to pollinate Anna. A much better companion to Anna is Dorsett Golden or Shell of Alabama, which are much better quality apples that blossom the right time to pollinate Anna.

  13. We live just miles south of the Frozen Tundra and this last winter the polar vortex took its toll on well over 1000 berries, and 400 plus fruit trees. Our soil is sandy loam for 1-2 feet, followed by 2-4′ of gravel, then white silica sand. MM111 grows the best here. In an effort to save some of the apple trees we grated this spring to 111 trees. Worked. Now, where can I still get 25-30 MM111 rootstocks to replace the M7 rootstock on our heritage heirloom apples?

    • Sorry, while you were still thawing out, the rootstock world was harvesting since late January and is sold out for the year and well into their summer growing season. The next chance you will get is next February.

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