A guide to breeding your own fruit variety


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This is a long process. It's not particularly difficult but requires time, patience and land. You will be lucky if this only takes 10 years. This guide assumes you are breeding an apple variety to eat fresh.

Step 1: Determine the purpose of your tree

This is the easy step. Ask yourself what you want your tree to be used for. Fruit, decoration, attracting wildlife, smoking meat, and so on. If you pick fruit then ask yourself what the fruit should be for. Eating, cooking, juicing or alcohol?

Step 2: Buy some fruit trees suited to that purpose

In this example, we shall buy a Cox's Orange Pippin, Snow Apple and Gravenstein. Choose at least two diploid trees which are not self-pollinating. Buy these trees on dwarfing rootstock. Buying more than one of each variety is ideal because you will get more seeds.

You can buy trees suited for other purposes if you like but they must be triploid. You don't want a crabapple or cooking apple cross-pollinating with your eating apples. For the same reason you cannot collect seeds from store-bought apples; they are pollinated by crabapples and the seedling trees will produce small, sour fruit.

Step 3: Plant the trees

Plant the trees and look after them. The dwarf apples will start producing fruit after about 3 years.

Step 4: Remove diploid trees suited for other purposes

If you have a diploid tree suited for another purpose, like a John Downie crabapple for making jelly, you need to get rid of it to stop it from cross pollinating with your eating apples. If your neighbour has a diploid crabapple, cider apple or cooking apple tree you need to kindly explain your situation, ask them to remove it and offer some form of compensation. I hope you have a very, very good relationship with your neighbours.

You will need to repeat steps 5 - 10 until you get lucky. This will take years.

Step 5: Collect the seeds


Once your trees start fruiting you can (finally!) eat some fruit and collect the seeds. Store the seeds in a cool, dry place.

Step 6: Germinate the seeds

In the middle of winter place some wet paper towel in a plastic container and put the seeds on it. Put another layer of wet paper towel on top. Store this in the fridge for 6 weeks.

Step 7: Plant the seeds

Plant all the seeds which sprouted in plastic pots. Let them grow for a few months. Use the same size pot and same potting mix for each seedling. As best you can, let them all have the same amount of sunlight each day.

Step 8 (optional, but highly recommended): Test the seedlings

The purpose of this step is to test the seedlings' vigor and disease resistance. I live in Australia so I will pretend fireblight does not exist.

Line up all your trees from tallest to shortest and discard the shorter half.

Water the remaining seedlings with a spray bottle for a month. Purposely keep the leaves wet. By the end of the month most-all of them will show signs of powdery mildew, black spot or scab. Keep the ones which show the least signs of disease and discard the rest.

Step 9: Plant the seedlings

Plant your selected seedlings outside and once they grow big enough, graft them onto dwarf rootstock and wait for them to produce fruit.

Step 10: Taste testing

This is the fun part. Eat one apple from each tree and decide which ones you like most. Invite your family and friends to your house for a taste-testing day. Make them eat a slice of each of your preferred apples while blindfolded. Have an unbiased person record their reactions.

Once you have a tree which you and most others are happy with you will finally have your very own apple variety. Graft it onto M111 rootstock and you will get lots and lots of scion wood. Start promoting it.
 
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alp

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Interesting! Shame I might not be here to test the end result! Have you had such a degustation? Reading your post makes me laugh!

Where do you get your dwarf rootstock please?
 
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alp

Joined
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