Show Us Your Cider Trees

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I'm starting this thread because I'm so impressed by the hop thread, shows that people on this forum do like to grow stuff.

It's now the time of year when you need to plan new cider apple trees. If you want to raise your own trees it is a good time to sow apple seeds for rootstocks. You can use seeds from any apple core, the seeds need to be dark brown. If you live in an area that gets frosts just sow them 5-10 mm deep in potting mix in a 20cm pot, leave out in the frost in a shady place and keep moist. In a couple of months the seedlings come up, pot them into individual pots with a little osmocote and keep watered in a sunny place - easy. By next winter the should be big enough to graft onto.
Grafting with a cleft graft is pretty easy, choose some scion wood the same size as the base of the rootstock. With a stanley knife, chop the rootstock off square a few cm above the soil, then cut a slice vertical about 1.5cm down the middle. Trim the scion cutting into a deep v shape, also about 1.5cm deep, and slide the scion wedge into the slice in the rootstock, try to line the bark up. Now wrap it up tight with some plumbers thread tape and bury the whole graft with potting mix. Keep watered in a humid place with a few hours sun per day until the scion shoots off, then move to a more sunny place. After you have done the graft avoid bumping or disturbing the plant. You collect the scion cuttings in july/august and do the grafting in late august/early september. Cider scion wood is available from the Orange agricultural institute or any cider orchard.

If you want to buy cider trees you should be enquiring now. There are a few heritage apple nurseries that sell cider trees. I bought some 2 years ago from strezlecki heritage apples but wasn't impressed. A couple died and others didn't grow well. I used to buy trees from "badger's keep" and never lost one but they are closed now. It is best to buy high tannin varieties, bittersweet or bittersharp. The best varieties are the late ripening ones like dabinett, yarlington mill, somerset redstreak or kingston black. I prefer to grow the early harvest ones because I have problems with birds and fruit fly, and the earlier I can harvest the better. Varieties are Improved foxwhelp, tremlett's bitter and breakwell's seedling. For blending with high tannin varieties you can use high acid cookers like grannysmith.

I don't know of any suppliers for perry pears, but you can get scion wood from Orange. Raising rootstock and grafting is the same as for apples.

Growing cider trees is a lot easier than winegrapes. You don't have all the pruning and spraying, especially if you live in a dry inland location. You have to watch out for vertebrate pests - rabbits, hares, wallabies, possums, birds, fruitbats etc, but I never spray or prune my trees and they are always really healthy. Just occasional fertilising and weedspray is all that is required, until you get to harvest time when the work starts. I would like to encourage people to get into growing cider apples, any questions or comments welcome.

Awesome post Greg
I do have one question... Can you grow my trees for me
Really hoping that i have 10-20 acres in about 2 years... so if i put an order in now they should just about be ready :p

Seriously though i am bookmarking this for future use
Thanks Greg that was a very informative post. My grandpar had an apple tree with 4 different variates on it, it was quite old when I was a young fella so I've always been interested in grafting. I might have to give it a go.

Probably a "how longs a peice of string" question, but how many apples would expect to get off one tree?

Cheers Brad
Good question Brad, I meant to include a bit on yields. Last year I got 450kg off one tree, an egremont russet tree. That isn't normal, a good size tree after 10-15 years should give 100-150kg, up to 250kg. If you plant your trees close together on dwarf rootstock in the modern style, the yield/tree will be smaller, but per unit area will be bigger. I prefer a big tree, don't really approve of dwarf trees, but they do bear a crop sooner
So where is the best place to get bare rooted cider trees from greg?

i got two a couple of years ago. They were slow to take off and one died. The redstreak is going well this year though and i even got 3 very small apples from it :D

I think i could find room for one more out on the footpath between the redstreak and the golden delicous, but i'm keen on putting a lychee there too.

Punkin, I can't recommend any suppliers because I do my own trees and haven't bought any lately. Googling "heritage apple trees" brought up a couple of suppliers, the strezlecki place didn't come up.

Maybe I should do a youtube of my grafting technique next time, it is just meant to be an easy idiotproof way of grafting trees,not necessarily technically correct. the most important thing is to wrap the graft tight and keep it moist.
I'm pretty keen to learn more on varieties of cider apple trees...i've got 2 acres of empty space waiting to be filled with friut trees and such. I've got in some orange, lime and lemon for the i'm looking into apple trees for cider making...hoping to learn heaps on this thread...


Andrew Lea's website at is the standard reference for stuff about varieties. keep in mind his site is about UK conditions, may not apply here. I do think early varieties are better to grow, but Andrew recommends late varieties. There is also a site from the DPI in NSW done by David Pickering at Orange,
If you have a bit of room you should do your own grafting, sow some seeds now, you can also germinate seeds in a bag of damp sand in the fridge. If anyone knows a supplier of apple rootstocks they could post it here.

Here are some trees I prepared earlier;



The top picture is a cider tree on the left (somerset redstreak) and a perry tree on the right (yellow huffcap). The apple was grafted last august on to a 1yo seedling. The seed was sown may 2010. For the perry I found a seedling pear growing on the paddock and potted it up.

The second picture shows the graft union. I normally have the soil level a little bit higher to cover the graft and stop it drying out while it is forming the "callus" tissue that heals the cut. You can see a ridge in the stem just above soil level, that is the top of the rootstock where I chopped it off square. The new scion is growing down into the slice in the rootstock. I trimmed the plumbers tape off last week, to stop the tree getting strangled.

I notice woodbridge trees sells rootstocks for $9.50 which is considerably cheaper than trees, so if you want to plant a number of trees you can save a lot of money by buying the rootstock and grafting.
I notice woodbridge trees sells rootstocks for $9.50 which is considerably cheaper than trees, so if you want to plant a number of trees you can save a lot of money by buying the rootstock and grafting.

I think i only paid around that for my two grafted trees. Can't remember where i got them from, i searched google and came up with a site on cider that had a reference to 'the' cider nursery and and googled it and tracked the guy down. Was in Vic i think.

I only have room for one more tree, and as tempting as some of those varieties look, $50 seems a lot. A bit more than i paid for either of my triple grafts. I may have to plant another sweet eating apple tree sourced locally. <_<
I did some perry pear grafting today so took some photos to show how I do grafting. To get the scion wood from my trees I use a twig the same thickness as the rootstock trees, to take with me and gauge the thickness of the cuttings I will need.


This shows the scion wood cutting (below the blade) shaped in a deep v at the end, and the rootstock bare rooted and trimmed. Just to the right of the tape you can see the end of the rootstoch where the end has been cut square and an incision made vertical into the stem.


This shows after the scion v has been inserted into the incision on the rootstock.Where the two join is called the graft union.


This shows the graft union after it has been wrapped tightly with plumber's thread tape.


This is after the tree has been potted up with the graft union buried to stop it drying out.
Now I have to keep it watered in a sheltered spot, and not touch the stem.
In a months time some new shoots will grow from the top.
By the end of summer the graft union will be strong and I can remove the tape


This is a pot of new pear rootstock seedlings I sowed a couple of months ago. We had a frosty winter to break the seed dormancy, when the each have a few more leaves I will pot them into tubes, they should be ready to graft onto in a year's time.
How many years do you have to wait until you can harvest enough fruit to make a batch of perry out of that, Greg?
How many years do you have to wait until you can harvest enough fruit to make a batch of perry out of that, Greg?

That's a very good question. I can give you an answer in about 15 years.
The process is exactly the same for cider trees which is why I posted the pictures.
I started a little cider Orchard 2011, put in a mixed bunch of M106 Improved Foxwelp, Kingston black, Michelin, Calville Blanc D'Hiver, Antoinette, and Blanch, sheep got in and destroyed a few so in 2012 added some M111 Bulmers, Kingston, and Improved Foxwelp to replace the dead ones.

Here is a few picks of my irrigated cider Orchard:

Cider trees 0011.jpg

I had about 15 apples on the 2011 Kingston black and Antoinette but most died/burned off this one is Antoinette:

Cider trees 002.jpg
Looks good, decent growth for 2 years. Another couple of years and you will be making cider, in 10 years a tonne or 2 of fruit. You will be amazed how quick the time passes.
Can't download any further photos but they are in the gallery..2015 should start seeing a good haul with appropriate netting etc.. 44 trees inc 12 perry pears and only lost one and never supplementary watered. Would really recommend the Yalca nursery. Good strong trees all of them..attachment=70092:IMAG0820.jpg


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