How do I crossbreed apples?

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How do I crossbreed apples?

Post by merrell » Wed Jun 21, 2006 9:06 pm

How do I crossbreed apples? I need to know.

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Post by appleman » Wed May 30, 2007 11:24 am

This is fun.
1. identify seed tree and separate pollen source tree.
2. on the seed tree cut off the male parts (anther)of the flower with manucure scissors. I do all the flowers in a cluster. you have to do this early am the first time the blossom opens. you can prevent unwanted pollenation by covering with a plastic bag and elastic a few days before.
3. collect pollen from pollen source in a small paint brush, store in a sealed bag. brush/put the pollen on the pistil of the seed source tree and re-seal.

Collect seeds when they turn black (ripe). dry and store them. you'll need to stratify the seeds to get them to germinate. rinse with common hydogen peroxide, then rinse with water. wrap in damp paper towel, put in double zip lock bag, refrigerated for 40 days. then plant in ground or in pots. each seed will produce a hybrid of the two trees. this does NOT mean they will be identical. each hybrid be a little different. Apples are like humans, each child will be different even though they have the same parents.

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Apple love-tryst

Post by appledude » Sun Jan 27, 2008 12:39 pm

Or you can plant two trees together (20 to 40 feet apart) that need each others' pollen to set fruit. But you would need to make sure there are no other apples growing in the immediate area, like a couple hundred yards. Then one could be reasonably sure that each seed is highly likely to be that exact cross.

Were I to attempt this, I think the first pair of trees I would try would be Cox's Orange Pippin and the ancient variety Court Pendu Plat that came together to form the Suntan apple. Who knows what all kinds of good seedlings could arise from this mating?

Here is what one website said about the Suntan apple:

Irritating name but heavy cropping, long keeping apple with a WOW! flavour of tropical fruits and concentrated sunshine. The first time we tasted this apple I ate 5 or 6 non-stop until my guts were bursting, it tasted that good. Pineapples, mangos and melons were noticeable among the rich mix of exotic fruit flavours in this delightful fruit. The flavour more like an over-the-top Aussie Shiraz-Cabernet red wine than the dull stuff sold as apples these days -- seriously, you have to try it.

It was grown at the famous East Malling research station, Kent, in 1955 (same year I was born) by Dr. Alston from a cross between Cox's Orange Pippin (known before 1830) and the ancient variety Court Pendu Plat (known before 1614). It is a triploid so needs a pollinator, but is a regular and heavy cropper which flowers late so misses the frost (taking after Court Pendu in this respect) and has a fantastic flavour. Possibly the most underrated apple in England, today (July 9) the wife and I shared the last apple from the 2003 season -- it was a Suntan and it was STILL CRUNCHY and full of flavour. We are increasing the number of trees of this sort that we grow. I think this apple should be grown EVERYWHERE.

Me typing again: Since Suntan is sterile, it would not contribute any pollen and would thus be okay to have present in this little pomological love-tryst. Any seeds arising from it would be either the Cox Orange or the Court Pendu as parent pollen. This is the equivalent of backbreeding once to the parent, which could yield some VERY interesting seedlings.
Sacred cows make the best hamburger. -- Mark Twain

It isn't always what we know that affects our results so much, as what we know that ain't so! -- Dr. Melvin Westwood

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Re: How do I crossbreed apples?

Post by DuckyDave » Fri May 07, 2010 10:55 pm

Hope you're not in a hurry:
Most apples are unable to produce fruit without the presence of another variety (or more properly, cultivar); they must pollinate each other. Then, there are some varieties that have a surplus of genetic material, called triploids, that cannot pollinate any other apples. Such varieties are useless for crossing purposes. They include: Belle de Boskoop, Bramley's Seedling, Karmijn de Sonnaville, Gravenstein, Jonagold, Shizuka, King and some others. Best check on the cultivars you are considering for status. I've wondered about crossing Ashmead's Kernel and Court Pendu Plat; both have natural resistance to apple scab and phenomenal flavor - and are OLD varieties.
Most of the the crosses made are products of determination. If you look up the pedigree of some of the most successful disease resistant apples created recently (the last 60 years: got to think in terms of apple tree lifetimes) the parentage can be a bewildering array of crosses, some of them only found in a given test plot and known only by number.
On the other hand, some famous finds grew alongside a parent tree (or by a smokehouse in a compost heap!) and the other parent is an educated guess. So, take the advice from a previous reply re how to isolate pollen and pistils, plant the seeds and wait for years. Apples from seed take much longer than apples grafted onto rootstock to produce fruit. You'll need a bunch to choose from and most won't meet your goals. Have fun; hope you're younger than I am.

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Re: How do I crossbreed apples?

Post by zcrown99 » Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:36 pm

I've used this technique before to great success.
Research apple trees to discover which tree species are self fruitful and which are not. Good sources for information on apple trees include your county extension office, master gardener program or local apple tree nursery. Select apple species that are not self fruitful for cross pollinating.
Plant crab apple trees in every third row of your orchard as the pollinating agent. Apple trees must have the first and largest blossom to open in a cluster pollinated in order for the best fruit set. This blossom is known as the king blossom. Since crab apple trees have the longest blooming time, they are more likely to be open and distributing pollen when your other apples blossom.
Place bee hives in your orchard. Bees are the most reliable pollinator of apple trees. Some bee hive owners will rent out bee hives for temporary use during the pollinating season. A hive must be located closer than 100 feet to the apple orchard in order for the bees to effectively pollinate the trees. Wind action will also help to pollinate apple trees. You should use one hive per acre of apples. Place bees in the orchard one to two days before the king blossoms open.
Supplement bee activity by hand-pollinating apple trees. This is important in years when adverse weather delays the opening of apple blossoms. To hand pollinate apple blossoms, collect pollen from crab apples using a paint brush. Brush the pollen into the center of the apple blossoms of your fruit-bearing trees.

I found this info (when I did research) from this site:

Which breeds are you attempting to cross?


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Re: How do I crossbreed apples?

Post by teprngr » Tue Sep 14, 2010 9:38 pm

What a wonderful write up about crossbreeding apples Made really fascinating reading and I am sure it must have been an inspiration to a lot of people to try their hand at this special art After the detailed explanations, there is no way there will be any doubts about how to go about to crossbreed the apple trees in your yard

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Re: How do I crossbreed apples?

Post by applebiggy » Sun Apr 10, 2011 12:32 am

Why would you want to cross breed apples? I thought that you could purchase hybrid seeds that have already been crossbred? I'm sure that it takes years of crossbreeding apple seeds to get it down properly.
I've heard reports that there might be food shortages in the near future, and I want to protect my family by investing in an emergency seed bank. How much do these kits cost,and how many types of kratom seeds come with them?

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Re: How do I crossbreed apples?

Post by appledude » Wed Jun 01, 2011 4:06 pm

applebiggy wrote:Why would you want to cross breed apples? I thought that you could purchase hybrid seeds that have already been crossbred? I'm sure that it takes years of crossbreeding apple seeds to get it down properly.
The PRI people crossbred some hardy, disease resistant crab apple genes into their breeding program and came up with apples that are scab-immune. This means that one need not spend any more time, equipment, and $$ for spraying an orchard for scab, let alone making it far easier to raise an organic, spray-free fruit.

Here is a nice weblink to read about PRI:

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Re: How do I crossbreed apples?

Post by StevenEdholm » Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:20 pm

I began apple breeding experiments last year using the following method with very good success. I produced 150 seeds in probably less than 2 hours total pollinating time.

*Start a few days ahead by collecting pollen from the male parent. Collect the pollen by removing the anthers from blossoms that are ballooned out but have not opened yet. Choose flowers that look like they are about to open or open in the next 2 days. Dry the Anthers in the sun or a warm room for a couple of days in a glass or plastic container. They will open and release pollen.

*Choose a cluster of blossoms in which most are not opened yet,but are close to opening this is called the balloon stage.

*Remove any blossoms from the cluster that are already open.

*Remove any blossoms that are do not look like they would open in the next 2 days. You just want the larger ones that are still closed, usually 2 to 4 per cluster.

*Carefully remove the petals by pinching and pulling

*Remove the anthers with small sharp scissors. They are the little thingies around the outside of the flower structure. They have not released any pollen yet. If you want the pollen, save them and allow them to dry in a warm dry room or in the sun for a couple of days. Leave the center structure, called the pistil, intact it is the female part. The tip of the pistil is the Stigma and that is where the pollen is applied. It appears to be just one structure, but it is actually like 5 stuck together, each one corresponding to a potential seed cell.

*Using a small soft brush, feather, finger, etc... gently apply your dried pollen to the end of the female structure (stigma). it doesn't take much.

*Repeat this procedure on all unopened blossoms remaining in the cluster.

*Tie a marker on the cluster and label it with the parents using the convention female parent X Male Parent

* I did not bag the clusters. The cluster has no petals left at all, so it is probably not very attractive to bees and other insects. I have also pollinated the stigma already, so there seems little chance of contamination by unwanted pollen, or at least not enough to matter to me. I plan to look into this more, but am pretty convinced that leaving them un-bagged is "good enough for the girls I go out with". A sure approach would be to bag the cluster after hand pollinating. I did not find it necessary to revisit the flowers. I may have gotten a few more seeds by revisiting the next day, but I got satisfactory pollination with one application in the balloon stage.

*When the apples are half grown, mark each apple that is crossed with a dab of paint so that if it falls from the tree you will know it is one of your crosses! I even write on them with a sharpie later in the season so that I know for sure what they are.

*You will probably get 5 to 10 seeds per apple, so pollinate enough to get enough seeds for your purposes and then some.

*Collect the seeds when the apples are ripe, or close to ripe. I stored them in the fridge in plastic baggies and they are coming up very well in the greenhouse here in mid February!

Nigel Deacon taught me most of this stuff. He removes the calyx and anthers in one cut with special scissors that are easy to make. I tried it that way, but the resulting apples were malformed. I think they also had smaller seeds and maybe even fewer seeds. Healthy plants make healthy seeds, so I've decided that I like leaving the calyx intact although it takes much more time. I'm not doing enough where that makes a real difference. Here is Nigel's tutorial:

Last edited by StevenEdholm on Sat Feb 18, 2012 10:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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