Apple root stocks are a very important aspect of the dwarf apple tree. There are many different root stocks which give various qualities to the tree. Obviously, size is on of the main aspects, as the roots will determine the ultimate size of the tree. Other aspects would include resistance to root diseases and tolerance to different soil types such as clay, sandy, wet, etc.
I have visited many nursery sites, and I find that most of them do not specify the apple root stock that the tree is on. The only designation is dwarf, or mini-dwarf. If a nursery is not willing to give you the information of what rootstock the tree is on, you might want to shop for a different nursery.
The following list is a sampling of dwarfing apple root stocks being used by retail nurseries who listed the rootstock of its dwarf trees. I have not listed rootstocks that make taller trees in this section.
The difference between the designation of EMLA and M have to do with the cloning out a virus-free clone for the EMLA. In doing this, a few variations are noticed. For instance M 9 is easier to root than EMLA 9. Also, the EMLA virus-free rootstocks might produce a slightly larger tree than the M 9.
EMLA 27, M 27 - This rootstock produces a small tree approximately 4 to 8 feet tall. Therefore one would want to graft on a scion of moderate to high vigor. The tree will need to be staked. Trees will yield a good crop the second year after planting. This would be a good rootstock for a potted tree and also for espalier. It is thought to be resistant to crown rot and root rot. It needs to be watered and fertilized regularly. It will tolerate heavy clay and moist soil.
EMLA 9, M9 - There are actually many different strains of M9, which will influence some of the attributes listed here. M9 produces a precocious dwarf tree of approximately 8 to 10 feet tall. trees on M9 can live in heavy clay soil and wet conditions, but not poor drainage. The roots are brittle and therefore the trees need to be staked. This root stock is susceptible to fire blight, wooly apple aphid and can develop burr knots. It tends to produce root suckers.
M 26, EMLA 26 - These trees are 8 to 10 feet tall. Staking is needed in the first few years of its life. It is susceptible to collar rot and fire blight and should not be planted in areas where the soil is wet much of the time. It needs to be well fertilized.
BUD-9 - This apple root stock produces a tree 8 to 12 feet tall. In many respects it is similar to M 9. However, it may be more resistant to fireblight and crown and root rots than M 9. It is still susceptible to wooly apple aphids and powdery mildew. It does not produce many suckers.
P.2 - Trees of this root stock have good winter hardiness. They will be 8 to 10 feet tall. P-2 is resistant to collar rot and is slightly susceptible to scab and mildew. P-2 shows resistance to European canker, perennial canker, silver leaf and crown gall. P 2 is precocious and crops in the third year.
P.22 - This tree grows to 4 to 8 feet. it is similar to M 9 in precocity and productivity. It is susceptible to fireblight and Wooly apple aphid, moderately resistant to powdery mildew, and resistant to crown and root rots. it likes a rich, moist soil and should be drip-irrigated. It is cold-hardy.
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