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Apples: Amateur Hybridization - Any success?

Posted by megamav 5a - NY (My Page) on
Mon, Dec 3, 12 at 13:55

I know there is a very slim chance of getting a quality fruit from open pollination, but has anyone tried it on a controlled level with success?

By control, I mean ensuring that the selected Male and Female genetics meet in an isolated way. Gathering the male pollen first, then getting to the female host at first balloon bloom, before it opens and is accessible to insects. Pollinate, then bag a cluster to keep it isolated. Grow the fruit, get the seeds, grow the seedling, graft the wood on a dwarf rootstock.

Any home growers try this as a shot in the dark and have success? I'm thinking about taking a shot at this once I get my trees and the crab apple grafting conversion project going. Curious to hear your experiences.


For more information on this method from a seed selling pro:

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Apples: Amateur Hybridization - Any success?

Eric, you might be interested to know that there was a large scale breeding experiment done here in San Luis Obispo County, but the fellow who began it passed away a few years ago and so did not get to taste the fruit of his labors.

When the land on which the test plot was located was to be plowed up the local CRFG got into action and harvested scion wood, distributing it among members and the general public with the understanding that it was to be grafted onto an existing tree and a record kept of the progress. There is apparently a rudimentary "map" of the original test plot.

Theoretically, the first apples from those scions might be produced this coming season. You can read more about it here:

(story begins at the bottom of page 1)

RE: Apples: Amateur Hybridization - Any success?

Thank you for your reply.
I guess not many have attempted.
I'll report back on any successes down the road.


RE: Apples: Amateur Hybridization - Any success?

Eric -

That is basically how the Macintosh apple was found - in an orchard as a seedling, which the grower didnt know existed. Now its one of the most popular apples for breeding and growing (yes, its loosing its popularity now to a point).

Even when selecting pollen/parents its a crape (mertle har har) shoot. Even then it takes a good eye and a good amount of knowledge to pick plants to grow on, and ones to cull, and of course a bit of luck as well.

Im not trying to discourage you, in fact I hope you manage to grow the next big thing!

If you wanted a real good challange, fry to find some Malus sieversii. This guy is thought to be one of, if not the ancestor of all cultivated apples. It might be a good place to start back crossing?

RE: Apples: Amateur Hybridization - Any success?

I dont know if I'd like to start over with an original. I think the sands of time have selectively chosen the best cultivars based on genetics and resiliency.

I just having a hard time understanding why more people dont give it a shot. Finding a new HOT consumer processing apple could end up being a nice retirement fund. Its no PowerBall lottery ticket, but its certainly something with incentive to do, for the love of the fruit or for the compensation.

I'd take my chances with 1 in 10,000 over 1 in 175,000,000.
I figure, why not marry two fantastic apples together and see what happens. If enough people did it, we'd have more modern, favorable apples out there.


RE: Apples: Amateur Hybridization - Any success?


I'm also interested in this, though space constraints will greatly limit the scope. I'll probably just play around with it for the next ~15 years until I have more room.

I've got a mix of heirloom and modern disease resistant apples. I've also ordered a couple Kazakhstan apples for next spring. It's a bit of a crap-shoot, but there is at least some data online about them (brix, hardness, size, etc). I got #11 and #13 from Cummins, both with brix measurements over 13.

Even with a great result, I doubt most hobbyists would make much money off it- the joy of showing off their creation would be the main reward.

RE: Apples: Amateur Hybridization - Any success?

I grew out a couple dozen apple seeds but its been taking them forever to fruit, even with grafting them on dwarfing rootstocks. I started the seeds about eight years ago and no fruit yet. If I had a couple acres I would probably consider doing more, but its a lot of work and it takes a long time for results. I have had more fun with peach seeds, they fruit quickly.


RE: Apples: Amateur Hybridization - Any success?

  • Posted by olpea zone 6 KS (My Page) on
    Thu, Dec 6, 12 at 20:04

" Even with a great result, I doubt most hobbyists would make much money off it- the joy of showing off their creation would be the main reward."

That was my thought as well. Even if one were to discover a superior apple, unless he/she had a big name in the industry, it would probably be pretty tough to get it tested in large plots across the country. Without broad testing I don't think any nursery would sign a license agreement and start propagating it.

If you browse the online patent database for plant patents you'll come by plenty of hobbiests who hold patents for some variety of tree fruit, but it's always a variety nobody's ever heard of. Sadly, with the regard to tree fruit, in modern times virtually all the patents that generate income have come from large scale breeders, universities, or people established in the industry.

RE: Apples: Amateur Hybridization - Any success?

It seems like every week or so (this time of year) an apple that is new to me shows up on the shelves: Sweetie, Aurora, Thisagold and Thatamac; Jazz and Honeycrisp are old-timers now! I'm not sure I've ever tried a Zestar or a SweeTango, a Pinata or an Autumn Glory, but they're showing up.

There are a zillion new apple varieties vying for attention, as marketers rush to impress the consumer with the next Honeycrisp- more interested in novelty than quality.

(That's the way I see Honeycrisp, too. Novel, but not good.)

On the other hand, maybe quality will be the next great thing and the lucky find would be recognized. Who knows?

Good luck,


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