Four New Apple Trees In One!

Over the MLK weekend, my housemate/landlord replaced the apple tree in the backyard. I thought I had a picture of it, but I can’t seem to find any, so you’ll just have to use your imagination. Keith doesn’t know what variety it was. He got it from a nursery a couple decades ago and can’t remember. He says it used to produce tons of HUGE apples. They were good for apple sauce, but I thought they tasted kind of mealy. This past summer it still produced a good number of apples, but they were moderate in size. The tree is so productive that the weight of the apples would break the branches. Keith had staked up the branches with posts to keep the branches from bending and breaking (like crutches for an apple tree). A couple more branches broke this summer, and Keith decided it was finally time to go.

He decided he wanted to replace it with a multi-grafted apple, since the backyard isn’t big enough for multiple kinds of apple trees, and he would really like different varieties – some for saucing, some for eating, etc. He also decided he wanted to plant it exactly where the old tree was….which entailed digging out the stump:

I don’t think this photo does it justice. It is a very large stump.

And here’s the new tree in its place:

Amazing. You’d never know that just a few days before there had been a large old apple tree in that exact spot.

There are four grafts on this tree: Gala, Fuji, Mutsu, and Jonagold.

I hadn’t heard of the Mutsu apple. Apparently, it’s a cross between Golden Delicious and the Indo apple (I also haven’t heard of Indo apples). The tree probably won’t produce any fruit while I’m here, but it will be interesting to see how it grows.

Multi-grafted trees sound great, but I guess they can be problematic. Apparently, it’s pretty common for one or a few of the grafts to not grow as vigorously or outright die, which will unbalance the tree and leave the tree prone to breakage. Also, one branch may become so dominant that it will shade another branch, preventing it from producing fruit.

I know my dad has a multi-grafted tree in his backyard, but I’m not sure what all the grafts are. It was planted long before we moved into the house, so it must be close to 30 or even 40 years old by now. Personally, I think multi-grafted trees are a neat concept, and, if you’re limited on space, it’s an option to consider, but I’d rather have enough space to plant four separate trees. 

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