Rootstocks used in history?

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Applejack8
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Rootstocks used in history?

Post by Applejack8 » Sat Nov 12, 2011 2:52 pm

I was wondering about rootstocks that were used historically? When did rootstocks such as MM106, M26, MM111 and M2 begin to be used? I am in the process of restoring a small orchard in which many of the trees date from the 1910s. What rootstocks might have been in use then? While the trees have been seriously neglected, and this may partially account for their size, several are quite large compared to the 'normal' characteristics for their varieties. I wondered if perhaps different rootstocks might partially account for this.

OrangePippin-Richard
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Re: Rootstocks used in history?

Post by OrangePippin-Richard » Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:05 pm

The knowledge that fruit trees could be grafted on size-controlling rootstocks was known for many centuries, but it was only in the early 20th century that scientific research was started. The early work was done at East Malling Research Station in England in the 1920s, which produced the M-series rootstocks. One of the first and best known was M9, which is derived from a French rootstock called Jaune de Metz - if you see a young M9 rootstock the "jaune" ("yellow") bark is quite distinctive. Much of this early work concentrated on producing virus-free regular rootstocks that would give predictable results. The tremendous commercial benefits of these rootstocks meant that within a few decades most orchards had switched to using them.

In the 1910s you will probably have had mainly seedling rootstocks, possibly some "Paradise" rootstocks (which I think includes the fore-runner of M9 but am not sure).

It is also worth noting that most apple trees are not that big, and if left to their own devices (i.e. grown from a pip) tend to grow as a bushes to a height of around 15ft - 20ft. The large romantic standard tree with a tall clear stem found in "traditional" orchards is very much a man-made format.

OrangePippin-Richard
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Re: Rootstocks used in history?

Post by OrangePippin-Richard » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:20 am

A further follow-up on this, prompted by an inquiry we had for rootstocks for a Victorian-era English garden:

http://www.orangepippintrees.com/articl ... al-gardens

They key point is that the first of the Malling-series rootstocks (Malling I to Malling IX), released in 1917, were not new ones but mainly just classifications of all the Paradise rootstocks that were known at the time. Therefore if you can find any of these you are probably close to what would have been around - even though modern editions of these rootstocks will have been through many generations of cloning and virus removal. I reckon M2 or M7 would be good choices.

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