March 2022 - 12

Modern apple rootstocks evaluated in Mid-Atlantic
By Gary Pullano
A discussion held during the recent
Mid-Atlantic Fruit & Vegetable
Convention regarding apple rootstock
selections pinpointed some preferences
of regional growers.
The panelists taking part in the
Feb. 1 discussion moved away from
assessing the commonly used M.9
rootstock, reporting on their success
with G.11 and Bud 9 rootstocks, but
acknowledged that even those modern
drawing rootstocks have their own
At Terhune Orchards in Princeton,
New Jersey, grower Gary Mount has
used B.9.
Cropping that variety too soon can
lead to some complications, Mount
said. Mount has turned to using G.11,
which he has found to be similar, but
has a stronger root for him.
" The one we've really settled on for
us is B.9, " Mount said. " You have a
little bit of a problem if you overcrop
it too soon on a few of the varieties. If
that's a problem, we've gone to G.11,
which is a very similar rootstock and
has a stronger root.
" Way back when we went with
pick-your-own, we wanted everything
close to the ground, " Mount said. " We
went with something small and B.9
was going to do it fine. Nowadays, we
need the production and we want the
trees taller. But I'm not having any
trouble with the B-9s getting up there.
I think it has something to do with
southern New Jersey, which is a little
bit more moderate in climate. Things
seem to grow a little taller. Some of
my friends in other areas have seen
the B.9s in their orchards and they
just don't get up there and go. "
At 78 Acres in Smithburg, Maryland,
grower Matt Harsh offered a somewhat
enough to get the fruit off those things
early, " Harsh said. " The best thing I've
come up with for taking apples off the
trees is just spray them off. Don't go out
there and do them with your hands. Just
take that option completely off the table.
When they're in bloom, go out there
and hit them with ATS (ammonium
thiosulfate). Just take them off. Then
you can't be tempted to leave the fruit.
" We have a lot of Premier Honeycrisp
that we've planted on G.11. I really
Fruit growers discuss apple rootstocks during a session at the Mid-Atlantic Fruit &
Vegetable Convention in Hershey, Pennsylvania. From left are Jason Mattson, Blake
Slaybaugh, Matt Harsh and Gary Mount. Moderator of the session was Penn State
University's Rob Crassweller. Photo: Gary Pullano
contrary opinion. He likes G.11, and
voiced disappointment in B.9, along
with other growers in his vicinity.
" It just doesn't have enough
horsepower. We just feel like it's not
the one for our location, " he said.
" We've planted just about all of these
rootstocks, " Harsh said. " We've planted
M.9, 337, Bud 9, G.11, G. 41 and we've
recently planted some Bud 10s. My
favorite so far, and the one I feel we've
had the most success with is G.11.
" If there's nothing else you take away
from this talk here, you really have to
figure out what works for you and your
site, Harsh said. " If you haven't planted
any of these things, go to a nursery,
order some trees and just throw them
in the ground and take a look at them.
Until you've seen them at your site,
and cropped them yourself, you really
don't know what you're dealing with.
Bud 9 for Smithsburg just isn't quite
the right rootstock. It just doesn't
have enough power. I just feel like it's
not the right one in our area. That's
not just me, other guys in our area
have said the same thing. G.11 has its
limitations, but for us that's been the
best one so far. "
Bud 9-Honeycrisp combo works
" The Bud 9 Honeycrisp thing is very
well established, " Harsh said. " There's
research behind that. We have that
combination and it definitely works.
We've planted ours at 2.5 by 12 feet.
If we were doing it again, I'd probably
plant them at 18 inches by 10 or nine
(feet). You can put those things so close
together, and they probably still will not
be close enough together. It is the thing
to grow Honeycrisp on and everybody
knows that.
" We put ours on 10-foot poles, mostly
because I didn't think they'd get that
tall, and also because I couldn't get
12s that year, " he said. " The 10s are the
thing, at least at our site, because they're
never going to get to a 12-foot pole.
To avoid the temptation to save
fruit, Harsh said he removes the apples
with chemical spray rather than hand
culling. His spray regime usually takes
place at 4 a.m.
" It is very hard to be disciplined
like that combination, " Harsh said.
" The G.11 gives you just a little more
horsepower for the Honeycrisp. Premier
and regular Honeycrisp are just not the
same thing. They are different apples,
for sure. We get decent color and really
good fruit size on a really nice tree with
the G.11, Premier combination. "
G.11 aids production
Blake Slaybaugh of Mountain Ridge
Farms in Biglerville, Pennsylvania, leans
toward the G.11 rootstock. He said it
produces branches at convenient crotch
angles for orchard production. Slaybugh
has found G. 41 to be a more difficult
tree to manage in an orchard because it
grows higher and tighter than G. 11.
" We haven't really planted anything
too new. We've planted a lot of
Geneva's, 41s, 935s, some Bud 10, "
Slaybaugh said. " It is very site-specific
and depends on horticultural practices.
Bud 9 on 10- by two-foot spacings
work very well if you prune them back
and things like that. If you are going
into a 15- by five-foot planting, one
where there's so much space, a Bud
9 can't do that. We're looking at Bud
10. We've a lot of Fuji that work really
good. We're kind of a little scared
on yield efficiency, but we'll see. We
definitely kind of steer away from B.11.
" We plant a fair amount of G.41s and
935s, " Slaybaugh said. " About three to
four years ago, roughly 40% failed. We
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March 2022

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