Variety development is time-consuming, expensive, and technically-demanding. It can also be limited by barriers to the movement of genes and traits from one generation to the next. Grafting can bypass some of these barriers to making superior genetics available to farmers. The grafting process quickly and directly combines the traits of two plants, one providing a root system (rootstock) and the other providing a shoot (scion).
Why would a farmer consider using grafted vegetable plants? Some benefits are well-known and others may yet be discovered. Currently, grafted plants often display greater levels of vigor and tolerance or resistance to various types of stress than their ungrafted counterparts. As a consequence, fruit yield and income potential are maintained when growing conditions might otherwise reduce them (e.g., when soilborne disease organisms are present). Grafted plants may require fewer pesticide applications and emerging evidence suggests that grafted plants may uptake and/or use water and nutrients more effectively.
Grafted vegetable plants have been used for many years in many locations. Grafted plants are a staple in hydroponic greenhouse production, increasing in high tunnel production, and under greater and greater evaluation in open field systems. Grafted plants are a tool that can be used by many; they can be used on operations of all sizes, types (conventional, organic), and locations. In addition, preparing grafted vegetable plants has become a business for some.
As when using any crop production tool, employing the proper technique when preparing and using grafted plants is required to benefit from the time, effort, and expense involved. Grafting is essentially organ transplantation, therefore, it is important to pay attention to rootstock-scion compatibility, cleanliness, healing, and related issues.
Cantaloupe, cucumber, tomato, and watermelon can be grafted with a high rate of success. Information at this website focuses primarily on the preparation, testing, and use of grafted tomato plants. Information on other grafted crops will be included shortly. We invite you to look around the site and to comment on what you find (and don’t find)!