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Perhaps 10 years ago I planted several apple trees on my farm. These may have been bought at the local blue or orange store and I've long since forgotten the varieties planted. I didn't keep such good records back then. One tree in particular has never produced fruit and has only flowered in the last year or so. I've identified the others as likely Gala as they've produced fruit that resembles Gala.

Other than perhaps shipping off a sample of the tree to some Ag school for possible identification, is there any way that I can make an identification of this tree?

  • Didn't read that too well at first, comment removed. Not sure there is a way, but what rootstock does it seem to be using? If it is growing vigorously, you could graft a couple new trees, and hopefully they'd fruit. – J. Musser Sep 30 '14 at 0:12
  • @J.Musser - not sure. Apple tree rootstock identification is definitely not one of my areas of expertise. I wouldn't consider it "vigorous" - its neighbor is, perhaps, 10 feet taller but one might be a dwarf or semi-dwarf. They were planted at the same time. – itsmatt Sep 30 '14 at 0:19
  • How tall is the tree in question? Is it suckering from the base? – J. Musser Sep 30 '14 at 0:23
  • I'd say it is 9-10' tall. It's companion is closer to 18-20' tall. It does produce some suckers at the base. – itsmatt Sep 30 '14 at 0:25
  • And that is it's natural height? It wasn't drastically altered by pruning, or anything? – J. Musser Sep 30 '14 at 0:27
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The common apple tree (Malus domestica, descended from Malus sieversii of Asia) is so visually similar between cultivars, that if you don't have fruit to compare, you will be very unlikely to get anywhere without a some kind of genetic analysis such as DNA sequencing. This can be expensive, even if you find a lab willing to perform this for you. They will also need the genetic identities of the cultivars they wish to compare.

I would wait for fruit (you may want to troubleshoot as to why it hasn't been producing - which brings to mind this q/a). If you can't get it to fruit in a reasonable amount of time, I would buy various different stock plants and graft scions from the mystery tree onto them. Different rootstocks will bear fruit earlier than others. I know the M27 stock will often support fruit 2 years after grafting.

  • Genome sequencing will probably be a lot cheaper and more accessible in the years to come, and now it's a lot cheaper than it used to be, but yeah, it's still expensive. – Shule Oct 2 '14 at 1:10
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    @user2962794: Yeah, you're looking at $2500-$3000, which is down from 3 billion, for a whole genome sequencing. DNA profiling may be a better option, and can be done for less than $200 dollars. Of course, you'd have to get the profiles of a lot of cultivars. – J. Musser Oct 2 '14 at 10:22

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