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How can I take my beloved apple tree with me when I move?

There is an old apple trre on our property. I know for a fact that it was bearing fruit seventy years ago. It is obvious this old tree has had a tough life. It has not been tended or managed by anyone. It grows wild. It has been struck by lightning or a great wind has caused it to split down the middle yet it continues to bear the most amazing apples I have ever known. They are large, disease-free, and very crisp and delicious. I think there is something special about this tree and I want to reproduce it my new yard after we move. I live in northern Nebraska so the climate will not be different. Do I start from seeds or do I take a cutting? When is the best time?
How do I prepare the seeds for planting?

Re: How can I take my beloved apple tree with me when I move?

You have to take a cutting, seeds just don't come true. This morning's Ask This Old House had a segment on grafting to a different rootstock. You might want to make a bunch of these for yourself and for friends.

Although this mornings episode showed grafting an apple tree, I would recommend that you get a book on the subject as there is a lot more to this than they had time to explain in one episode. Its a good primer though.

Re: How can I take my beloved apple tree with me when I move?

Thank you Keith, but isn't "grafting" joining two seperate trees to create a hybrid? What is a cutting and what is root stock and how do I get them?

Re: How can I take my beloved apple tree with me when I move?

A hybrid is made by combining the DNA of one plant with another to enhance certain characteristics. Wiki Mendel.
A grafted plant maintains all the characteristics of the original plant. The rootstock only provides a vigorous root system for a grafted plant. It does not change the original plant. I believe most if not all named varieties of fruit trees are grafted. Your tree may have come from seed and you were just lucky. To continue the line it must be grafted.
If grafted, the only thing to watch out for is to remove any suckers that may grow from the rootstock. They won't be the tree you want.

Re: How can I take my beloved apple tree with me when I move?

Ed21 pretty much answered your question. Let me add a little.

People who breed new varieties usually find that great fruit and a solid rootstock do not come together. When a new tree that the breeders believe will be successful, they then graft pieces of the limb called scions to various rootstocks. The rootstocks will determine the size of the tree, standard, dwarf or semidwarf are the most common.

If your tree came from seed and you were lucky enough to get a good apple, you might be able to clone new trees with a technique called layering. That is basically cutting a notch or scraping the bark from near the end of a limb and wrapping it with peat moss and keeping it moist all season. With luck, roots will emerge from the scrape and grow into the peat moss.

If your tree was a grafted tree, the result you get from layering may be disappointing as the tree might not provide the needed support for the apples. Your best bet would be a graft to a semidwarf rootstock.

If you can prove that your tree is a unique variety, it could be worth some money to you. I'm not sure haw you would go about finding that out.

Sidney Fife
Re: How can I take my beloved apple tree with me when I move?

Even if you DO successfully root a cutting, it'll be years before you get a decent tree. I'd try moving it, if you can afford it. More & more people are doing this now, especially with antique or "Heirloom" trees. First, consult a professional arborist to evaluate your tree, since some do not transplant well.

I recently read an article on moving mature plants. How do you think nurseries deliver huge plants to homeowners? You can do it the same way, but it'll cost you. A year before moving, prepare the tree by cutting around it into the dirt, down at least 2 feet, in a circle ensuring 10" of root ball for 7" of the tree's caliper-- just below the edges of the branches (first trim them back quite a bit--which you should do w/apple trees anyway).

Also prepare the site to which you intend to move it. This is crucial for the tree's survival.

Fill the trench with sphagnum moss to protect the roots 'til they seal off. Then, when you're ready to move, water it well, either hire someone, or get a bunch of friends with a truck. Buy a large wire "basket" from a nursery, some burlap and a rent a skid-steer with spade attachments, to dig in and lift out the root ball. Then put into the burlap and then into the wire frame, then tie it up. Better yet, hire a pro! Your tree will stand a much better chance of surviving.

Make sure the roots are kept moist from the time you first cut into them all the way through the transplantation.

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and this:


Good luck! I'm planning on doing the same thing, with a 100 y.o. Rose of Sharon, old rhododendrons and several 30' arbor vitae and cypresses, when we move.

Re: How can I take my beloved apple tree with me when I move?

Please PM me the same.

Re: How can I take my beloved apple tree with me when I move?

That is very old for an apple tree, most only live 35 years. It would be well worth propagating. I would contact some local nurseries and see what they would charge to get some starts. In addition, you could also save a bunch of seeds, it worked for Johnny Appleseed. Yes, he was a real person.

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