Apple trees growing 101

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Giulio Pini

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Jun 3, 2024, 9:00:16 AMJun 3
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Hi all!

I see there is a lot of apple grower in the group. I would like to grow some plants from seeds, I have some land that is now a basic garden but there is some free space where I wanted to make some experiments. 

So, what would be the perfect time of the year to grow an apple tree from seeds? 
Is there any book/site/article/studies to read in order to get some useful information on apple trees care and growth? 

I live in North Italy, and have a very clay based soil. I heard its ideal to grow fruit trees. I was planning on growing 7-8 old varieties very ill resistant that really nobody grows around here anymore since there isn't any interest for them. I think some of them could make very good cider apples.

Thank you all for reading! 

Charles Claus

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Jun 3, 2024, 9:43:58 AMJun 3
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Hi there,

Planting apple seeds is a big long shot in terms of what actually is ultimately produced in fruit. If you want to grow heritage varieties that are present in the area you would be better off learning to graft onto either seedling rootstock - rootstock grown from seeds or better yet, in my opinion, graft onto known named rootstocks that have identified growth characteristics that you are looking for. Learning to graft does take time and persistence and a willingness to be a continuous learner. 

Charles 

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Dick Dunn

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Jun 3, 2024, 11:08:54 AMJun 3
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I'll go farther than Charles and say, as a rule, "Apples don't grow true
from seeds." There are (few) exceptions. The reason is that most apple
varieties are self-sterile, so they need a pollinizer which is a different
variety. In turn, that means the seeds have a genetic makeup combined from
both parents.

As Charles says, create your new trees by grafting--cutting scions from the
old varieties (which maintains the genetic makeup in the fruit) and
grafting on to known rootstock types. The rootstock mostly determines
useful characteristics of the tree such as size, anchoring, best soil type,
and a good part of disease resistance.

As you are in Italy, you may enjoy the idea that grafting was known and
practiced by the ancient Romans.

On Mon, Jun 03, 2024 at 06:43:40AM -0700, Charles Claus wrote:
> Hi there,
>
> Planting apple seeds is a big long shot in terms of what actually is
> ultimately produced in fruit. If you want to grow heritage varieties that
> are present in the area you would be better off learning to graft onto
> either seedling rootstock - rootstock grown from seeds or better yet, in my
> opinion, graft onto known named rootstocks that have identified growth
> characteristics that you are looking for. Learning to graft does take time
> and persistence and a willingness to be a continuous learner.
>
> Charles
>
> On Mon, Jun 3, 2024 at 6:00???AM Giulio Pini <giulio....@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Hi all!
> >
> > I see there is a lot of apple grower in the group. I would like to grow
> > some plants from seeds, I have some land that is now a basic garden but
> > there is some free space where I wanted to make some experiments.
> >
> > So, what would be the perfect time of the year to grow an apple tree from
> > seeds?
> > Is there any book/site/article/studies to read in order to get some useful
> > information on apple trees care and growth?
> >
> > I live in North Italy, and have a very clay based soil. I heard its ideal
> > to grow fruit trees. I was planning on growing 7-8 old varieties very ill
> > resistant that really nobody grows around here anymore since there isn't
> > any interest for them. I think some of them could make very good cider
> > apples.
> >
> > Thank you all for reading!
> >
--
Dick Dunn rc...@talisman.com Hygiene, Colorado USA

scott heath

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Jun 3, 2024, 12:18:52 PMJun 3
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You might want to talk to Floribunda Cider, they are near Trento and grow a lot of apples specifically for cider. 
Buona fortuna!

Scott


Claude Jolicoeur

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Jun 3, 2024, 2:21:20 PMJun 3
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Le lundi 3 juin 2024 à 09:00:16 UTC-4, Giulio Pini a écrit :
I was planning on growing 7-8 old varieties very ill resistant that really nobody grows around here anymore since there isn't any interest for them. I think some of them could make very good cider apples.

It was mentioned by others, but I think this needs to be relly clear: If you grow an apple tree from seeds coming from an old variety you want to propagate, you will NOT get the same fruit from the seedling tree. The seedling tree you will get will be a cross of the genetics of the 2 parents (one is the tree that produced the apple, and the other parent provided the pollen that fertilized the flower). This is the same as the fact that your children are not identical to you, but a genetic cross between 2 parents.

Gloria Bell

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Jun 3, 2024, 2:30:04 PMJun 3
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Yes - Agree with Claude.
It's a long haul as also mentioned as apple trees from seeds can take 5-15 years to produce fruit, fruit will be varied even if you plant all the seeds from the same apple.  I have done this.  IF you are using local heritage fruit from an orchard that doesn't use pollinator crabs and has a high quality pollen parent selection, you will likely get usable fruit, trees that will be well rooted and likely more environmentally tolerant too.  It's the long game with seedlings (and you can select the ones that you plant out for disease resistance ect or the ones with the best vigor).  If you have time and space, I would plant some seedling trees and I would absolutely select trees with good vigour.  If you do not like the fruit simply graft over to varieties you do like and you'll have a beautiful tree of your liking.

Nick MacLean

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Jun 3, 2024, 3:16:15 PMJun 3
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Hi Giulio,

Stephen from YouTube channel “skill cult” has an amazing set of videos that document his apple breeding projects over the years https://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL60FnyEY-eJAMOPvU-yyF4JfuW5ocJvC4. He’s not breeding for cider apples, but rather improved red fleshed apples. He covers intentional crossings, seed germination, and fruit evaluations over multiple seasons. I have a few of his scions grafted out in my orchard, and he even inspired me to make some intentional crosses of my own. They are going into their 3rd spring in the orchard. The crosses all have Wickson as the pollen parent, and either Muscadet de dieppe, puget spice, or dabinet as the mother. I also have some malus sieversii x cider apple open pollinated seedlings this year. 

What’s very interesting to me is that Stephen observed in his testing. Intentional crosses almost always had characteristics of one or both of its parents. So, while the seedlings are certainly not true to the parents, they definitely inherit traits. This was seen in both good and bad ways in terms of growth, quality, flavor, etc. For example crossing two vigorous sweet apples is unlikely to make a weak sour apple, but it could happen. I wouldn’t rely on chance or intentional seedlings if your main goal is cider, but if you have some time and space I’d certainly recommend trying some intentional crosses. Worst case scenario you can always use the seedlings as rootstock for more promising varieties!

Nick




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