The Forestry Forum

General Forestry => Urban and Community Forestry => Topic started by: Joe Hillmann on October 22, 2018, 02:52:22 PM

Title: How to grow an apple tree from a cutting.
Post by: Joe Hillmann on October 22, 2018, 02:52:22 PM
This summer I found a couple apple trees in the woods that I want to take cuttings of and try to grow clones of them.  As far as I know all of the trees are on their own root stock so should be hardy and survive our winters.

Is it as simple as cutting small branches and poking them in the ground in the early spring and hoping they grow(that is how I do grapes and if works about 20% of the time)  Or is there a better way to get clones of these apple trees?

Two of the trees are about 30 feet tall and grow tons of smallish apples with a  gritty pear like texture that can be eaten as is but is best for cider or drying for later cooking.  The third tree is about 15 feet tall and produces nice large good eating apples that have red flesh and stay on the tree until well after the first frost(many wild apple trees I have found start dropping their apples before they are ripe)
Title: Re: How to grow an apple tree from a cutting.
Post by: DelawhereJoe on October 22, 2018, 06:20:37 PM
There is stuff called root tone, its a rooting hormone, you can also get 1 or 2 of those jiffy pot expanding potting mix things and put it around a small branch with a ziplock bag and the branch should root itself into the potting mix after a while.
Title: Re: How to grow an apple tree from a cutting.
Post by: DMcCoy on October 28, 2018, 08:50:41 AM
You can use rooting hormone.  Hormex is one brand of the powdered type, Hormodin is another, there are liquid ones as well.  You might be able to get these at a depot store.  You can go light on the concentration (Hormex #1, Hormodin #1), more is not always better, you can burn the ends with too much.  20% is actually a low take.  We stick thousand of cuttings per year with-out hormone but it all depends on the plant, if we can't get 85-90% take or greater we use hormone.  Hormone will improve your take, the powdered is easy to use.  It's up to you if you want to use it or not.  Cutting stock should be neither too woody or too soft.  I would suggest using the last seasons growth and at least pencil sized diameters.  Getting a node or two below ground and at least 2-4 above would be a minimum

The reason to use root stock is to control the height of the tree and make picking apples easier.  I have a tree on Semi-dwarf stock and need a ladder or I use this pole contraption with a container.
If you use root stock - grafting of apples is by far the easiest, I get 100% using a whip graft and black electrical tape, no tree seal or anything else.  Just match the OD as close as you can.
Title: Re: How to grow an apple tree from a cutting.
Post by: Joe Hillmann on October 30, 2018, 08:26:54 PM
You can use rooting hormone.  Hormex is one brand of the powdered type, Hormodin is another, there are liquid ones as well.  You might be able to get these at a depot store.  You can go light on the concentration (Hormex #1, Hormodin #1), more is not always better, you can burn the ends with too much.  20% is actually a low take.  We stick thousand of cuttings per year with-out hormone but it all depends on the plant, if we can't get 85-90% take or greater we use hormone.  Hormone will improve your take, the powdered is easy to use.  It's up to you if you want to use it or not.  Cutting stock should be neither too woody or too soft.  I would suggest using the last seasons growth and at least pencil sized diameters.  Getting a node or two below ground and at least 2-4 above would be a minimum

The reason to use root stock is to control the height of the tree and make picking apples easier.  I have a tree on Semi-dwarf stock and need a ladder or I use this pole contraption with a container.
If you use root stock - grafting of apples is by far the easiest, I get 100% using a whip graft and black electrical tape, no tree seal or anything else.  Just match the OD as close as you can.
What time of year do you do the cutting and planting?  Do you cut it then let it heal before planting it or plant it as soon as possible?  I don't have any root stock to use and all of the trees I have in mind are relatively short and I know their root stock can survive our harsh winters(I recently heard that 200 years ago apples other than crab apples couldn't be grown here because of the cold and it wasn't until more hardy varieties were bred that that good apples could be grown here)
Title: Re: How to grow an apple tree from a cutting.
Post by: DMcCoy on October 30, 2018, 09:29:05 PM
Dormant wood cuttings in jan-feb.  Select the very straightest very best pieces you can find,  the whole cutting should be this seasons growth only.  I would take the cuttings from the tree on a non freezing day or take an extra long cutting early(oct/nov- if you get long cold winters, after the tree is dormant), wrap in wet burlap and keep moist and cool (35-39 ish, not freezing), you can then take the cutting off these longer pieces at a later date.  I would do tip cuttings, taking a cutting with the terminal bud intact, cut the base at an angle, apply hormone, and stick them in some good potting soil, tamp them in gently so there is good contact between the cutting and the soil.  If you use powdered hormone wet the cutting in water so the powder will stick.  If you use liquid hormone let them sit a little while after dipping and before sticking(30 seconds or so) Keep the cutting soil moist but not wet,  you want to feel moisture when you poke your finger in the soil. I would keep them in a cool area (50 ish) until it gets closer to spring and then move them into a warmer area (60 ish).  
Scarring the cutting before hormone will also increase your take but I'm not sure you need to do that.  Scarring is taking a knife and cutting a small (narrow) strip of bark off the lowest inch or so.  This will expose the cambium layer to the hormone over a greater area than just the end.  Check your cuttings periodically maybe every couple of weeks by pulling one up, don't pull them all :).  You should see callus forming at the areas where the bark was cut.  Once you get callus you are doing good and roots should follow.  If you stuck multiple cuttings in one pot gently separate them after they are rooted and grow them on.  I would grow them in a gallon pot for the remaining part of the year before setting them out the following spring.

If you want to try some root stock cuttings you can usually find cutting stock around the base of apple tree growing as suckers.  They tend to be a little more primitive having spine like growth on them and bad apples but they do tend to root aggressively.   Whip grafts are done in early spring before bud swell.
Title: Re: How to grow an apple tree from a cutting.
Post by: DelawhereJoe on October 30, 2018, 11:48:20 PM
Just remember that some dwarf apple trees have full sized apple tree roots grafted on to them. Most of the orchards around me all have grafted trees so they can get the best apples from small trees, big roots tiny trees.
Title: Re: How to grow an apple tree from a cutting.
Post by: DMcCoy on October 31, 2018, 09:01:16 AM
It is the root stock that determines the tree size. Here is a good explanation.

Rootstocks and Dwarf Fruit Trees - Cooperative Extension: Tree Fruits - University of Maine Cooperative Extension (https://extension.umaine.edu/fruit/growing-fruit-trees-in-maine/rootstocks-and-dwarf-fruit-trees/)
Title: Re: How to grow an apple tree from a cutting.
Post by: SwampDonkey on November 21, 2018, 05:53:02 PM
Root stock also affects taste of the fruit. There are two Cortland's, one is grown here locally and I always get those ones. The other is a Nova Scotia Cortland, dry and hard even in the middle of winter, terrible apple.

We have a 'New Brunswicker' variety I bought years ago, same trouble. The old New Brunswicker in the orchard here by the house had a different flesh with red veins in it and soft and juicy and sweet when ripe. Way better. Both are an August apple, but poor root stock on the new stuff.