About Fruit Trees

trees apple image Apples
Cider Apples
Cherries
Peaches
Pears
Plums
About Rootstocks
Rootstocks for Grafting
Scionwood

Apples

Malus spp. Some definitions:

  • Summer apples ripen in summer, are generally crisp only for a short period, do not store well, and are often best for cooking.
  • Fall apples store longer and are useful for a wide variety of purposes.
  • Winter apples ripen mid to late fall, store well, and reach their best flavor after weeks, or even months, of storage.
  • Dessert apples are delicious eaten raw.
  • Crabapples are less than 2" in diameter. Some crabs bear edible or culinary or cider-making fruit. Some have persistent wildlife fruit that hangs on the tree for weeks or even months. Others have hardly any fruit at all. Some are beautiful ornamentals.
  • Cider apples are especially suited to making fermented “hard” cider. Some cider apples are also good dessert fruit, but most are not. See more information about cider apples.
  • Subacid means tart!
  • Russet or russeting is a skin texture (fairly common on apple varieties and on a few pears and potatoes) which looks and feels somewhat like suede.
  • Bloom is a naturally occurring dust-like yeast film on the skin of some varieties of apples, plums, grapes and blueberries.

Check out our interactive Pick the Right Apple chart.

Hardiness zone range and relative ripening dates: Although our catalog focuses on woody plants that do well in the northeast, we have customers all over the U.S.—up along the Canadian border, in the mid-Atlantic states, down in the mountains of North Carolina and out west in the high desert—anywhere hardiness is important. We love having customers so spread out, and we do our best to tell you when a variety will ripen in your orchard. But it’s not easy. An apple that ripens in September in northern Maine might ripen a month earlier in Pennsylvania. Ripening dates also vary from year to year depending on conditions. Not only that, the apple might be exquisite up north but rather blah farther south. That’s the nature of these varieties, and it’s part of why we offer so many each year. We think you’ll find varieties that can thrive in your area.

The USDA plant zone hardiness map is a guide designed to assist gardeners and orchardists in choosing suitable plants. The zones are based on the average annual minimum winter temperature. The lower the temperature, the lower the zone rating number, and the “hardier” the plant. Zone 3 is about as cold as it gets in any part of New York and New England. Most of northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine would all be Zone 3. The central part of the four states would be Zone 4. The southern half of each state would be Zone 5 or 6. This can vary from site to site depending on elevation, proximity to the coast and other microclimatic factors.

When choosing apple varieties, note the zone rating at the end of each description. If an apple has a Z3 rating, you will be able to grow it successfully in the coldest locations in Maine, as well as two or three zones “south.” In other words, if the rating is Z3, it may be in its prime in Z3, but should do well down to Z5 or 6. Typically, it will not perform well outside of that approximate range. Note that hardiness works both ways: you grow can't mangoes in Maine, and you can't grow most apples in Florida.

Choosing a variety: Not every variety is right for you. All-purpose apples are just that—they’re good for a bunch of jobs. If you're planting just one tree, perhaps start there. However, if you’re a history buff, consider the historical varieties and maybe plant one that originated nearby. If you don’t eat many apples but love pies, go for the pie apples. If you’re a dessert connoisseur, skip all the others and go for the highly flavored dessert varieties. Some are strictly for cider. Some are great to put out at the camp for summer use. Some are perfect for those who want fall fruit but don’t have a root cellar. Others keep all winter and into the following summer. Read the descriptions and consult the chart. If you have a question about a specific variety, drop us an email: trees@fedcoseeds.com. We’ll try to help!

Care: Apple trees are adaptable to a variety of soils and climates, though they prefer well-drained fertile soil. Varieties bearing annually are noted in the descriptions; others are biennial, usually bearing every other year. However, with diligent annual pruning and thinning, most apples will produce an annual crop, one heavy, the next light.

Pollination: All apple trees require a second variety for pollination, but any apple or crabapple blooming within a quarter mile will probably do. Midseason, late season bloomers—what does it all mean? Should you be in a tizzy about pollination? No. If there is at least one other apple tree somewhere in your neighborhood, the bees will do their thing, and you’ll get fruit. It can be a wild roadside apple tree. It can be an ornamental crabapple. It can be old or young, in your yard or your neighbor’s. But it must be different from yours. In other words, avoid planting ten Honeycrisps if no other apples are in sight. Most apples flower at about the same time so timing is almost never an issue. However, if you live on a desert island with only an early bloomer and a late bloomer, you should plant a midseason bloomer, too.

Years to Bearing: Your results will vary depending on climate, site, soil, nutrients, light, spacing, pruning, but most apples bear in approximately 5-7 years.

Choosing a rootstock

Rootstock determines the size, longevity, hardiness and growth habits of a tree. After enthusiastic response from customers, we continue to offer an assortment of dwarf and semi-dwarf rootstocks in addition to the standard. We also offer bundles of rootstock for grafting.

Standard rootstock: Most of the apples we offer are on standard full-sized Antonovka (and occasionally Dolgo) rootstock. Standard trees have deep, substantial—and therefore hardier— root systems. By selecting the varieties appropriate to your district, grafted on standard rootstock, you may well be planting a tree that will be picked by your grandchildren’s grandchildren. Standard trees will grow to be large, but you can manage the size with pruning. The largest trees in our orchards are now about 30 years old, yet the tallest are well under 20' due to careful pruning. Although standard-sized apple trees may be planted as close as 10–15' apart, they were typically planted 30' apart in 19th-c. orchards. We generally plant standard trees 20–25' apart with good results. (Trees on standard stock are shipped at 3–6'.)

Semi-dwarf and dwarf rootstocks: We offer an assortment of semi-dwarf and dwarf apples on Bud 118, M111, V1 and B9 rootstocks. Each has great advantages for some growers, but these size-controlling rootstocks also have their limitations. Please read on and decide if they are what you want. If you are uncertain, stick with the good old standards, which are extremely rugged, hardier, more tolerant of drought and poor soils, very long-lived, and more capable of thriving under a regime of benign neglect. (Trees on semi-dwarf stock are shipped at 2½–5'; dwarf stock, 2–5'.)

  • Bud 118 semi-dwarfing rootstock produces a tree about 85–90% of standard size or even larger. Sometimes Bud 118 trees are called semistandards or even standards. Plant about 20–25' apart. Considered to be more precocious (fruits at a young age) than standards, and probably more productive. Very hardy, though not as hardy as Antonovka.
  • M111 semi-dwarfing rootstock produces a tree about 65–80% of standard size. Sometimes M111 trees are called semi-standards. You can plant them closer together than standards, about 15–20' apart. M111 may not be more precocious than trees on standard. However it will likely be more productive. It has a relatively shallow spreading root system, does well in light soils, and is relatively drought tolerant. Prone to suckering; not as long-lived or hardy as Antonovka.
  • V1 dwarfing rootstock produces a small dwarf tree about 55% the size of a standard tree. This makes it easy to spray, prune and pick. It requires less space in your yard and will fruit at an early age. You can plant trees 10–15' apart. Trees on V1 are very hardy, somewhat fireblight resistant, sucker very little and should be staked or wired for support. V1 (Kerr x M9) is one of several dwarfing rootstock introductions from the Horticultural Experiment Station in Vineland, Ontario, Canada, 1958.
  • Bud 9 dwarfing rootstock produces a tree that is very small. It is a true dwarf, about 25% the size of standard. You can plant trees 5–10' apart. It will not live nearly as long as those grafted onto Antonovka. Trees should be staked for support. Hardy, but not nearly as hardy as Antonovka.

Although standard-sized apple trees may be planted as close as 10–15' apart, they were typically planted 30' apart in 19th-century orchards. We generally plant standard trees 20–25' apart with good results. Apples on M111 rootstock can be planted about 15–20' apart, and those on V1 about 5–10' apart.

Apple trees are adaptable to a variety of soils and climates, though they prefer well-drained fertile soil. Varieties bearing annually are noted; others normally bear every other year. With diligent annual pruning and thinning, most apples will produce an annual crop, one heavy, the next light.

Click here for information on soil preparation and planting.

Click here for more info about apple pests.

All apple trees require a second variety for pollination, but any apple or crabapple blooming at the same time, within a quarter mile, will do.

Customers frequently ask us about apple pollination. Early season, midseason, late season bloomers—what does it all mean? Should you be in a tizzy about pollination? No. If there is at least one other apple tree blooming somewhere in your neighborhood, the bees will do their thing, and you’ll get fruit. That other tree can be a Fedco apple of a different variety. It can be a wild roadside apple tree. It can be an ornamental crabapple. It can be old or young, in your yard or your neighbor’s. But it must be different from yours. In other words, avoid planting ten Honeycrisps if no other apples are in sight. Most apples flower around the same time so timing is almost never an issue. However, if you live on a desert island with only an early bloomer and a late bloomer, you should plant a midseason bloomer, too.

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Cider Apples

Each year we offer a different assortment of the best European and American cider varieties. Many of these are NOT for fresh eating. They do however possess the qualities that make them very desirable for fermented (or ‘hard’) cider production. Please note the descriptions for details.

It’s All in the Mix!
“From the great diversity of soil and climate in the United States of America, and the almost endless variety of its apples, it followed that much diversity of taste and flavor will be necessarily found in the cider that is made from them.” Colin MacKenzie, 1829.

For the best cider, plant several varieties. That’s because when it comes to cider, it’s all in the mix. Unlike beer, cider has only one ingredient: apples. So the apples have to provide everything: acidity, sugar, tannin and flavor.

We classify the cider varieties into four categories:

  • sharp (low in tannins, high in acid)
  • sweet (high in sugar, little or no tannin, low acid)
  • bittersharp (high in tannins and high acid)
  • bittersweet (high tannins and sugar, low acid)

Tannin denotes naturally occurring compounds whose bitter astringency gives rounded full flavor, body and golden color. What’s the difference between bitterness and astringency? An excellent University of Reading publication Sustainable Cider Apple Production attempts to define them: “Astringency is a drying, puckering sensation in the mouth in which the whole tongue is affected, while bitterness is mostly perceived at the sides and back of the tongue.”

Vintage refers to varieties with perfect qualities for single-variety cider. Most cider is best blended.

We recommend you plant some sharp apples for acidity, some sweet apples for sugar and some bitter apples for the tannin. For those who are really serious about it, we include where we can the percent malic acid (acidity), percent tannic acid (tannins) and specific gravity, or SG (sugars) for the individual varieties. We've made a good cider from about 40% bittersweet (astringent) apples and 60% mixed dessert and cooking apples.

You can use our simple hard cider recipe as a jumping off point, then explore some of the books on our reading list and grow your skills.

A Few Good Apples
Not sure where to start your cidermaking journey? You can find the acidity in bittersharp cider varieties such as Kingston Black or from any of a number of American dessert apples such as Golden Russet and Esopus Spitzenburg. Get your sugar from bittersweet cider varieties like Dabinett and Yarlington Mill or from sweet American varieties such as Tolman Sweet and Black Oxford. You can find tannin in any of the bittersweet types—or even from the wild roadside apples in your neighborhood. You’ll know it when you taste it.

Some of our favorite eating apples are also great for cider. Apples good for eating or cooking as well as cider include well-known varieties Baldwin, Cortland and Wealthy, as well as Ashmead’s Kernel, Calville Blanc d’Hiver, Grimes Golden, Redfield, Roxbury Russet and Wickson. Some crabapple varieties that deserve a place in the cider orchard: Brandywine and Dolgo.

Don’t vintners make single variety wines? Absolutely. Grape wines are often best as single varietals. So is perry. Some assume the same would be true of apples, but unfortunately not so, as very few apples have all the necessary attributes. Harrison, Hewe’s Virginia Crab and Kingston Black are some, but others are precious few.

Check out our interactive Pick the Right Apple chart to explore more varieties.

Commercial Cider Orchards: for those planning large quantities of cider apples, please be in touch about special pricing and grafting.

Cider Reading

A good basic book is Apples to Cider: How to Make Cider at Home by April White with Steve Wood (of Poverty Lane Orchards and Farnum Hill Ciders).

Every cidermaker in America will want to read Uncultivated: Wild Apples, Real Cider, and the Complicated Art of Making a Living, and everyone else should, too. Not only does Brennan explore the questions facing those of us who love to grow and squeeze apples, he also digs deeply into language, art, economics, and life in general.

The New Cidermaker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for Craft Producers by Claude Jolicoeur takes cidermaking to a more advanced level.

If you’re considering a trip to the cider orchards of England or France, or just want to know more about their ciders, try Ciderland by James Crowden (English cider) and Calvados: The Spirit of Normandy by Charles Neal (French cider).
The best book on English cider varieties is Cider Apples: The New Pomona by Liz Copas.
For French cider varieties, the best is pommiers à cidre: variétés de France by JM Boré and J Fleckinger (in French only).

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Cherries

Stone Fruits are widely cultivated around the world and adaptable to most of New England. Not highly particular as to soils. Clingstone means the fruit’s flesh sticks to the pit (or stone) and a freestone pit drops away from the flesh. Like our apples and pears, all our stone fruits are grafted trees.

Years to Bearing: approximately 5-7.

Sweet Cherries

Prunus avium Generally grow into large trees although the flowers are tender and fruiting can be iffy in central Maine and north. We are testing some of the hardiest varieties and hope to have more available in coming years. Most sweet cherries need a second variety for pollination. See descriptions for pollination requirements. We recommend planting two or more varieties for best results. Mature trees reach 25–30' tall. Space trees 25' apart. (2½–6' grafted trees)

Pie Cherries

Prunus cerasus Also called Sour Cherries, but they’re delicious enough to eat right off the tree, and especially good in pies. They fruit in early to midsummer and don’t mind heavy soil. They are generally divided into two groups: Morello types have dark red spherical fruit, dark juice and relatively small compact trees. Montmorency (or Amarelle) types have light red slightly flattened fruit, clear juice and medium-sized somewhat open trees.

Pie cherries are significantly hardier than sweet cherries but flower buds may be damaged in colder winters. We often encounter excellent crops in central Maine. Pie cherries are self-pollinating, and do not require another variety for pollination. Mature trees reach 10–15' tall. Plant 15–20' apart. (2½–6' grafted trees)

Other “Cherries”

For some interesting fruits sometimes called “cherries,” see Nanking Cherry. Sometimes we also stock Bush Cherries, Cornelian Cherries, and Dwarf Sour Cherries, so check back in future years!

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Peaches

Stone Fruits are widely cultivated around the world and adaptable to most of New England. Clingstone means the fruit’s flesh clings to the pit (or stone) and a freestone pit drops away from the flesh. Stone fruits are not highly particular as to soils.

Prunus persica Northern New England peach growing can be very successful. The trees often bear so heavily that the fruit needs thinning and the branches need support. Some winters can be hard on peach trees, and they may die. Other trees live for many years. Replant and try again. They are worth the trouble, and since they bear young, you won’t have to wait too long!

Peaches are usually unaffected by pests or diseases in northern areas, the occasional exception being peach leaf curl. PLC is not a fatal problem but does need to be controlled if you get hit with it. Look for crinkled or puckered foliage in spring. Remove affected leaves and compost them. Spray the tree with lime, sulfur or copper early the following spring while it is still dormant (before any buds open!). Onion, garlic or horsetail spray while leafed-out may also be effective. It’s common for peaches to have black gummy wounds. This is usually harmless and happens from any environmental stress, even when a bird or a bug looks sideways at the tree.

Pruning Peaches Prune peach trees in spring after the buds begin to swell and show pink. Remove dead and inward-growing branches. If your tree becomes leggy,make a few bold cuts to bring main branches closer to the trunk. Peach trees grow vigorously each year and fruit on the previous year’s wood. The goal is to keep trees small and open; leggy branches will break from the weight of the crop. After cutting back any main branches, thin last year’s shoots and cut them back to about 12–18". When you’re done, the tree shape should look something like an open hand reaching for a peach, with the tree not much taller than 10' or so.

Peach trees are self-pollinating; they do not need a second tree for pollination. Mature trees will be 10–15' tall; plant 20' apart. (3–6' trees)

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Pears

Pyrus spp. are native to temperate Europe and Asia and can grow up to 100' tall in the wild.

Years to Bearing: approximately 5-7.

European Pears

Pyrus communis Native to temperate Europe and Asia, pears can grow up to 100' tall in the wild. Many of the familiar pear varieties are hardy in New England but tend to take longer to come into bearing than apples and might not bear every year. Farther south, pears tend to bear annually.

Pick fruit when green and ripen it on the shelf. Or, for optimal eating, try Ed Fackler’s method: “…when fruits exhibit slight color changes, begin to test pressure (using your thumb) near the stem. When there is a slight ‘give,’ pick all the fruit, store at or near 35° for 7 or more days. Then remove them as needed, allow them to sit at room temps for 2–4 days which allows them to ripen to peak flavor.”

Pear blossoms are less attractive to bees than apple blossoms, so pears should be planted closer together than apples to ensure pollination, about 15–20' apart. Although some pears appear to be self-pollinating, we recommend a second variety for pollination. Bloom dates for all varieties are similar.

European pears are on OHxF97 rootstock and will reach approximately 25' at maturity, subject to your pruning. Plant 15–20' apart. (2½–6' trees)

Perry Pears

Perry is fermented pear juice—the pear equivalent of hard cider—and traditionally called “perry” in parts of England and “poire” in France. Many cidermakers in the States are now making some version of perry. Although you can use any pears, the true stuff is made from small dry bitter astringent varieties selected over the centuries just for that purpose. These perry pears give the drink its distinctive body and flavor, but most are not suitable for fresh eating or cooking.

Traditionally, real perry could be made only within sight of May Hill on the border of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire in western England, which we visited in 2011. The trees were very tall and really old, and the perry was delicious. That edict has relaxed a bit and some version of perry is now being made most everywhere pears can be grown. The Orne region of Normandy is famous for its poire. We were there in 2014 and those trees looked about as old as the ones within sight of May Hill. At Franklin County CiderDays in western Mass you should be able to sample some very tasty perry at the amateur tastings.

Asian Pears

Pyrus pyrifolia There are thousands of named Asian pear cultivars in China, where they have been grown for more than 2000 years. They bear young and are long-lived. Asian pears differ from European pears: they are crisper and very juicy, sweet and mild with a nutty background, and are roundish in shape. Although partly self-fruitful, pollinators are recommended. The varieties we offer will pollinate one another. Some European pears, notably Bartlett, will also act as pollinators. Pear blossoms are less attractive to bees than apple blossoms, so pears should be planted closer together to ensure pollination. Bloom dates for all varieties are similar.

Because they set heavily, thin the crop once or even twice during the first two months after bloom to ensure large fruit. Leave about one fruit per spur. Unlike European pears, they should be tree-ripened. When the seeds are black, the pears are ready to pick. They ripen in late summer and keep several weeks with refrigeration.

Cultural requirements are similar to European pears. Although they are usually considered a Zone 5 plant, many of us in Zone 4 are having bountiful crops. Asian pears reach approximately 15–20' at maturity. Plant trees 15–20' apart. (2½– 6' trees)

Asian pears are on OHxF97 or Pyrus betulaefolia rootstock and will reach approximately 25' at maturity; plant 15–20' apart. Although they are usually considered a Zone 5 plant, maybe they can squeak by in Zone 4.

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Plums

Stone Fruits are widely cultivated around the world and adaptable to most of New England. Not highly particular as to soils. Clingstone means the fruit’s flesh clings to the pit (or stone) and a freestone pit drops away from the flesh.

Years to Bearing: approximately 5-7.

Hybrid Plums

Extremely hardy crosses between various Asian and American species; may fruit even after severe winters.

Hybrid plums require a second variety for pollination. Hybrid plum fruiting can be inconsistent but they are worth the trouble! Warmer areas will see longer bloom times. Cold, late springs may force blooming all at once. Both of these conditions can be optimal for plum crops. At other times, it can be a little hit or miss.

To maximize pollination, plant at least 4 different varieties close enough to let their branches touch at maturity or around 15–20' apart. Planting about 10' apart can work, too, if you want to create a plum thicket of a wilder style. One Fedco member has a lone Toka in her yard pruned to a minimalist umbrella and the tree fruits wildly most years. Go figure!

Bloom times are similar for the varieties we offer. We offer American Plum Seedlings because it is one of the best pollinators for all varieties. Hybrid plums are less susceptible to black knot than European plums and have few other issues other than Japanese beetle and plum curculio attraction. At maturity, hybrid plums are roughly 15–20' tall. (3–6' trees)

European plums

Prunus domestica Delicious fresh and often grown commercially for prunes. A true prune is a plum that can be dried without the pit fermenting. We’ve heard recommendations to blanch the plums for 45 seconds before drying them. European plums produce smaller fruit and are generally not as hardy as the hybrid plums, though they can handle heavier soils and are less prone to brown rot. Unlike hybrids, they are prone to the fungal disease black knot, which looks like black chewing gum and appears on branches. While not necessarily fatal, it must be kept in check by removing and destroying infected branches.

Trees grow upright and are usually trained to a central leader. European plums are self-pollinating. (Will not pollinate hybrid plums.) Mature trees are 15–20', or smaller. Space 20' apart. (3–6' trees)

In recent years, our growers have had trouble propagating European plums. We have a limited supply of one variety this year and hope to carry more in the future.

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About Rootstocks

Rootstock determines the size, longevity, hardiness and growth habits of a tree. After enthusiastic response from customers, we continue to offer an assortment of dwarf and semi-dwarf rootstocks in addition to the standard.

For information about rootstocks we sell for home and commercial grafting, see rootsocks for grafting.

Apple Rootstocks

Catalog codes for apple rootstocks

  • Where:
  • A follows the item number in the apple section, the variety is on standard rootstock.
  • B indicates the variety is on Bud 118 rootstock,
  • C indicates the variety is on M111 rootstock,
  • D indicates the variety is on Bud 9 rootstock.

Standard rootstock: Most of the apples we offer are on standard full-sized Antonovka (and occasionally Dolgo) rootstock. Standard trees have deep, substantial—and therefore hardier— root systems. By selecting the varieties appropriate to your district, grafted on standard rootstock, you may well be planting a tree that will be picked by your grandchildren’s grandchildren. Standard trees will grow to be large, but you can manage the size with pruning. The largest trees in our orchards are now about 30 years old, yet the tallest are well under 20' due to careful pruning. Although standard-sized apple trees may be planted as close as 10–15' apart, they were typically planted 30' apart in 19th-c. orchards. We generally plant standard trees 20–25' apart with good results. (Trees on standard stock are shipped at 3–6'.)

Semi-dwarf and dwarf rootstocks: We offer an assortment of semi-dwarf and dwarf apples on Bud 118, M111, V1 and B9 rootstocks. Each has great advantages for some growers, but these size-controlling rootstocks also have their limitations. Please read on and decide if they are what you want. If you are uncertain, stick with the good old standards, which are extremely rugged, hardier, more tolerant of drought and poor soils, very long-lived, and more capable of thriving under a regime of benign neglect. (Trees on semi-dwarf stock are shipped at 2½–5'; dwarf stock, 2–5'.)

  • Bud 118 semi-dwarfing rootstock produces a tree about 85–90% of standard size or even larger. Sometimes Bud 118 trees are called semistandards or even standards. Plant about 20–25' apart. Considered to be more precocious (fruits at a young age) than standards, and probably more productive. Very hardy, though not as hardy as Antonovka.
  • M111 semi-dwarfing rootstock produces a tree about 65–80% of standard size. Sometimes M111 trees are called semi-standards. You can plant them closer together than standards, about 15–20' apart. M111 may not be more precocious than trees on standard. However it will likely be more productive. It has a relatively shallow spreading root system, does well in light soils, and is relatively drought tolerant. Prone to suckering; not as long-lived or hardy as Antonovka.
  • V1 dwarfing rootstock produces a small dwarf tree about 55% the size of a standard tree. This makes it easy to spray, prune and pick. It requires less space in your yard and will fruit at an early age. You can plant trees 10–15' apart. Trees on V1 are very hardy, somewhat fireblight resistant, sucker very little and should be staked or wired for support. V1 (Kerr x M9) is one of several dwarfing rootstock introductions from the Horticultural Experiment Station in Vineland, Ontario, Canada, 1958.
  • Bud 9 dwarfing rootstock produces a tree that is very small. It is a true dwarf, about 25% the size of standard. You can plant trees 5–10' apart. It will not live nearly as long as those grafted onto Antonovka. Trees should be staked for support. Hardy, but not nearly as hardy as Antonovka.
We offer most of our apple trees on standard Antonovka seedling rootstock. We also offer a number of varieties on semi-dwarf and dwarf rootstocks.

Pear Rootstocks

For 2023, Pears are on OHxF97 or a similar rootstock, and Asian Pears are on OHxF97 or Pyrus betulaefolia rootstock.
These rootstocks are subject to change based on availability and we are unable to accommodate pear rootstock requests.

Stone Fruit Rootstocks

Our stone fruit trees are typically grafted onto the following rootstocks:

  • For cherries: ‘Mazzard’ or ‘Mahaleb’, but occasionally others
  • For peaches: ‘Bailey’ and ‘Lovell’, but occasionally others
  • For hybrid plums: Prunus americana
  • For European plums: Prunus americana or Prunus cerasifera ‘Myrobalan’

These rootstocks are subject to change based on availability and we are unable to accommodate specific rootstock requests.

Click here to see the rootstocks sold for grafting, for both pome fruits and stone fruits.

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Hardy Rootstocks for Grafting

We carry a selection of rootstocks that we consider to be some of the best options for home or commercial use. Even without grafting, any of these will produce fruit suitable for wildlife. For rootstocks we do not currently stock, or for larger calipers or larger quantities, please contact us for information. We also offer knives and grafting supplies in the Organic Growers Supply branch of Fedco.

Because of the way they are propagated, clonal rootstocks (B118, M111, G11, B9 apples and OHxF97 pear) rarely come with more than a few roots. You may have better luck planting clonal rootstocks for a year in your garden or nursery before grafting them.

You can receive your rootstock sooner— shipped around March 13— if you select the early shipment option. Otherwise, your rootstock will be shipped during our regular schedule later in March or April.

Please note! We do our best to provide ¼" caliper stock. Because of factors beyond our control (such as weather!) stock may be 3/16–3/8". We cannot guarantee scion or rootstock diameter.

Please join us Sunday, March 26, 2023, for the annual Scionwood Exchange and Seed Swap, held every March at MOFGA in Unity, ME. See mofga.org for details and to learn about other organic orcharding classes and events.

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Scionwood

We offer scionwood (twigs for grafting) from a wide selection of fruit trees including many listed in this catalog. Price is $6.00 per stick (about 8") plus shipping. Deadline for ordering scionwood is February 17, 2023. We will ship around March 15. Rootstock can be sent with your scionwood order in late March.

We sell scions (pronounced SIGH-ons, not SKY-ons) in two ways. For those grafting up to 3 or 4 trees of a variety, one 8" stick will suffice. Each single 8" stick comes with a small paper ID label. This is how most of our customers purchase scionwood. For commercial orchardists and others grafting large numbers of trees of a particular variety, we also offer scionwood by the foot ($5.50 per foot, minimum order of 10'). In our own nursery work, we are usually able to graft about 6 or 8 trees from one foot of scionwood.

We collect the scionwood in winter and store it at about 40° until shipment in March. You can graft right away or store it for later use. Stored properly, it will keep quite well for several weeks. It needs to be kept in the fridge or in a cold dark basement, root cellar or shed. Storing scionwood at freezing temps can be okay (we have friends who stick theirs in a snow bank), but the very cold temperatures in a freezer will kill it. It will also die if it dries out or is stored without special protection from ripening veggies or fruits. We recommend triple-bagging your scionwood in plastic bags, no matter where you store it. There is no need to dampen the scionwood or to insert wet paper towels before bagging it.

What does a Person do with Scionwood?

Scions are twigs. They have no roots and will not grow if you plant them. They are cuttings from branch tips, intended for spring grafting.

Is grafting easy to do? Yes, once you get the hang of it. Experienced grafters often have 100% “take” (success rate) with their grafting. Beginners often have less. While you can learn to graft from a book or video, we highly recommend the old-fashioned way: find a real person to teach you. The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) has grafting classes every spring. Other organizations around the country do as well. Find one near you!

There are two general ways to graft fruit trees in spring. You can bench graft by grafting scionwood onto bare-root rootstock. (You can grow your own rootstock from seed or purchase it from us.) Generally we do this indoors in late March or early April. We keep the little grafted trees packed into a bucket of damp sawdust in a warm spot in the house (77–86°) to break dormancy and promote callus development. Then we harden them off in a cold (but not freezing) place for a week or two before planting out in nursery beds in mid-to-late May. In a couple of years when the trees are 3–6' tall, we plant them in the orchard.
You can also topwork scionwood onto established trees. We do our topworking after the trees have begun to show some green growth, usually about May 10 in central Maine. We offer grafting kits and other supplies to get started.

Can you collect your own scionwood? Of course! Grafting can open up a whole new world for you. You can purchase scionwood from Fedco and several other suppliers around the country. You can trade scionwood like you would baseball cards or recipes. And, best of all, you can collect your own scionwood from your favorite trees. We’re always on the lookout for interesting varieties to graft. Before long, you may even become completely obsessed like many of us at Fedco!

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