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Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by crookedoak, Apr 6, 2011.
What is better the dwarf or the standard fruit trees????
The scion, or tree part is the same. What makes it a dwarf is the rootstock. The standard will be bigger, you'll need a crane or ladder to get fruit from the top, and it will take longer to produce, because it will have to put a lot of energy into growing.
Depends on your needs and on the rootstock you select. There are a LOT of different dwarfing rootstocks and there are several standard root stocks. Well depending on the fruit. If you buy cheapie dwarf apple for instance, you will nearly always get dwarf M7 or semidwarf M26 which is not a good choice for many areas of the country due to disease. If you buy cheapie standard size tree they will most likely be grafted to seedling rootstock which is a roll of the dice.
I am planning on grafting several apple trees next year. This year I ordered and planted some Antanovka rootstock for full size apple trees (I really like big old apple trees even if they arent as production efficient, also deer cant as readily destroy them once they are full size!) and some Geneva 30 rootstock for some semi dwarf trees (50% full size). Let them grow a year and then graft early next spring. There is another, Geneva 202, that may even be better semi dwarf, but its hard to find. Same with full size, basically Antanovka or generic seedling. There are others worth considering like M3, but just try finding them in smaller quantities. I dont want to plant 80A of apple trees.... so stuck with whats available in reasonable quantities. I think however Antanovka is going to be good choice, it has a rather large tap root which should make it more drought resistant. Its mostly sold though as being cold tolerant. If you want true dwarf, maybe Bud 9 is better way to go though dwarfs tend to be wussie things and roots arent that hardy and you will have to water them frequently and stake them forever.
Most mail order places give the choice of M7, M26, and M111. These are older English bred rootstocks and not great disease resistance. (of those far as I can figure M111 probably the best) Or if they offer full size trees, then seedling rootstock. Shows how much they care about their customer, to use the cheapest they can find.... And to be fair lot of the retail mail order fruit tree places dont graft their own trees, they buy bulk wholesale and mark them up for their profit. Well same with small local nurseries, they dont graft/propagate their own trees, they only do retail sales of wholesale product. The wholesalers dont offer the newer better rootstock. They are into moving quanity of product and not so concerned about quality. Course if you are large buyer you can have any combination you want especially if you can order a year in advance. But small guy tends to be screwed both on price and what combinations are offered retail.
The positives are that standard has a massive root system compared to dwarfs so lot more heat/drought resistant and once mature, its pretty deer immune. Also lives much longer. And frankly nothing as beautiful as a mature well cared for standard size apple tree. The dwarfs and even semi dwarfs will forever be at mercy of deer unless you fence them in really well.
If you are looking to raise apples for pure production "as a row crop" on the farm, then you want dwarf and will be willing to do the extra maintenance/watering as necessary. No arguing dwarfs are far more space efficient/productive and bear much earlier if their needs are met.
It depends upon what you want.
Apparently, the latest thing in commercial orchards is to grow full dwarf, supported with wire trellis. The trees can go close together and all the work can be done from the ground. They look an awful lot like a grape vineyard.
I buy semi-dwarf. I like the bigger trees, but full size is really up there. For apples, I buy MM-111 because it has the best anchorage and I get some strong winds. I don't like to stake my trees. All full dwarfs need to be staked.
For really cold areas and bad weather, you want antanovka because it is tough and cold hardy. It's full size and grows a large tree. It's also hard to find. Few nurseries sell it, so it might be necessary to order custom grafts.
Different root stocks have different strengths. One might be drought resistant, another might be resistant to a specific disease, or nematode resistant. So there is no "best" root stock that is "best" for the entire country.
I like a lot of fruit and I have lots of space to grow trees, so the semi-dwarf works well for me. If you have a small yard, or you don't like to get up onto ladders, then buy dwarf. Also with dwarf, you can fit a lot of trees into a small area, so can get more varieties into a small yard.
I'm with Oregon...we have semi-dwarf and love them.
Which you choose also depends on your available space. For urban and suburban dwellers, or those with small country lots, dwarf and semi-dwarf may be the better choice. This is the case for me at this property. Everything that goes in here is dwarf or even bush sized, except for my peach which are semi-dwarf. Later, I'll tuck in the SUPER SMALL dwarf trees and more bush sized fruit into any leftover spaces. I'll wait a few years to do that, to see what space remains after trees get to a good size.
If I planted standard fruit trees, I might have been able to plant three on my lot, or four if I was lucky. Doing dwarf/semi-dwarf, and bush, I've been able to plant 3 apple, 2 peach, 2 apricot, 2 native plum, 1 regular plum (dwarf), 2 cherry, and a whole pile of raspberries and blueberry, along with a few grape vines. I just ordered a half dozen more blueberry, 2 currant, and a lilac. I also planted a rose bush this morning. I still have space saved to expand my veggie beds. I haven't even touched the FRONT yard half of the lot yet...I'll be planting fewer trees out there, but still plan on fitting in some hazelnuts, honeyberry, goji berry, and maybe some other small things.
I like the variety I can plant having SMALLER trees. Plus, this gives me more to rely on if something fails. If I can only plant 3-4 big trees and one dies or does not produce then I take a major hit. If I plant a dozen varieties of smaller plants and something fails or dies then I only lose a small amount of my production.
I want to put in a small orchard with different kinds of fruit. I am also wanting to put in blueberries etc. I can fence it in against the deer. Plus deer tend to not come up because of my dogs barking. What are the best kinds of fruit to plant of the dwarf, semi-dwarf and standard.
It really depends on what fruits you like and where you live. You might want to start by looking at a few nursery catalogs to see what is available. Even if you buy elsewhere, Gurney's site is good to look at, because they give you an idea of how tall each type of fruit will get, and how far they spread. Not all catalogs do that.
Then, compare elsewhere for price. Know your garden zone. If you want to "play it safe" go one colder (or warmer) in tolerance. I live in zone 5b and prefer to make sure anything I plant can tolerate zone 5a or better yet, zone 4. I won't plant anything that can't handle a zone 6 summer, either (though this isn't common).
You should also look at the website for your state's extension agency. Examine what they say about different fruits and how well they do in your state. See what varieties they recommend in your state. Then, study those in the various catalogs and elsewhere online. You want to focus on disease resistance for some things, like apples. Otherwise, you'll spend half your life spraying the darned things.
It also depends on your lot -- sun exposure, space, obstructions, soil type, etc.
On varieties you have to think how much you are willing to spray to get your tree to survive and to get some production. Not only did I read a lot about rootstock, but been driving myself nuts with gettting familiar with as many varieties as possible. And there are lot of named varieties. Where I live, fireblight and cedar rust are going to be the two biggies for apples. So I will be going heavy on trees that are resistant naturally to those things so I am guaranteed as much as possible of some production. Not all, there are several antique apples I am willing to gamble and if I have to spray them early and often so be it. And it can be real frustrating to find a very nice apple like Gold Rush that is about as idiot proof as it gets and very tolerant to fireblight. Doesnt even mind a warmer climate, BUT its susceptible in a big way to cedar rust. Cedar rust is whole lot easier to deal with than fireblight, but why create unnecessary work for myself when there are nice varieties resistant to both.
Last time I had peaches it was endless battle with peach leaf curl. This year planted three peach trees that are naturally resistant to peach leaf curl. Peach leaf curl isnt that rare, but I had to order from west coast nursery to get curl resistant peach trees. Everywhere else they just have their finger up their orifice and chant spray, spray, spray. Well why spray, spray, spray for diseases, if there are varieties that are naturally resistant to those diseases??? It just seems like a no brainer, make life as easy as possible if it doesnt cost significantly more.
And on plum, I planted a variety that is resistant to black knot, another fun disease where I am. Do you know how hard it is to find varieties that state bluntly they are resistant to black knot?? All the catalogs want to do is go on and on about taste and how pretty and other malarchy. Well you dont get to taste anything if your tree dies of black knot, now do you? I know this the hard way.
What will really drive you nuts is to find two different articles claiming exactly opposite things for a particular variety. Grrrr...
And then there are the mystery varieties that have zero information... Have you ever heard of Uralian Butter apple tree? I mean from the name I can guess its from the Ural mountain region of Russia and "Butter" may mean its a soft apple? Just dont know. Interesting that I can get scion wood for it if I wanted, but the people offering the scion wood dont seem to have a clue???? You would think somebody actually growing the tree would know something at least about what kind of apple it produces. I guess its just for people wanting to try to grow apples with strange names or something.
Oh and you will find darn little information about growing apples in the south and mid south. I found more info on growing apples in California than growing in the south. Apple culture tends to be more northern oriented though used to be lot apples grown in the mid south. You just get the usual drival from universities and the usual list of especially disease resistant varieties recommended for suburban home owners.
We bought dwarf trees from Stark's. Always had wonderful luck with their trees. However, our trees are now 2.5 years old, and many of them are well over 12 feet tall!
You have to prune and train dwarf or semidwarf trees. In the regular "modified leader" style of training, you allow a set of scaffolding branches at 30-36 inches, another set about 2 ft higher, then a third set, 2 ft higher, you'll have a tree about 7 ft high and you prune it to keep it about that height. a water sprout near the top of a tree will grow 5 or 6 ft in a year, if allowed to. The goal is for the nutrients in the ground to go into producing fruit, not tree growth. Because the sunlight gets to the outside of the tree, you want a pyramidal shape, with the higher scaffolding branches being shorter than the lower ones. You won't get much fruit to speak of from a shaded area.
There is a different method seen mostly with peach trees, but can be used with any fruit tree, in which you have no central leader, but instead 3 or 4 branches that look like an open upturned hand. That is usually called "vase pruning"
In vase pruning, the center of the tree is open to sunlight, so you get fruit in the center as well as the outsides.
Crookedoak, we did pretty much what you are wanting to do. We fenced off a little over an acre for both orchard and garden. We planted some asian pears, sweet cherries, plums & persimmons to start (each double fenced to keep deer from nibbling on them). We added a small seedless grape vineyard and completely fenced it to keep deer away. Then we planted a large garden the deer completely demolished!
Now, we have "double fencing" all around that entire acre+, have removed the fencing from the fruit trees and have added elderberry, goji and blueberry (require an acidic soil) bushes. We also started adding plants that would benefit the fruit trees/bushes/vines (comfrey that pulls up nutrients for the fruits it is near; mint, evening primrose and alyssum as good bug lures to help keep bad bugs down). And this year we are companion planting our vegetables and adding an herb garden.
Our fruit trees are all grafted semi-dwarf (only one dwarf if I remember correctly). They have been easier to prune (using Zong's ideas above) and easy to spray at appropriate times. (I would hate climbing a latter to prune/spray/pick at my age.) Also, though you still need to be aware of the depth of your hard pan, the roots of dwarfed trees would probably not be affected by it too much (unless it is terribly shallow). Standard trees would eventually die if they hit a hard pan and cannot get through it; and this would occur only after you have spent years of time nourishing them.
Crookedoak, find out what fruit grows in your zone and area and then plant the ones that your family likes to eat.
Without knowing where you are, it is impossible to give suggestions. You can grow figs and pomegranates in Texas, but not so easily in North Dakota. Cherries do well in Washington state, but not all varieties of cherry do well in Arizona. Rabiteye blueberries for the South, Highbush blueberries for the north.
I live in Northwest Alabama.