Monday, December 5, 2011

Grafting for Disease Resistance and Increased Productivity

Researchers around the world have demonstrated that grafting can protect plants against a variety of soil-borne diseases in various climates and conditions. Grafting has been successfully implemented in many countries to battle diseases such as Verticillium and Fusarium wilt, corky root rot and bacterial wilt, among others. Along with maintaining high fruit quality, tomato grafting can also help overcome abiotic stressors, such as high salinity, excess moisture and soil temperature extremes, even allowing the extension of the growing season.

SARE has a new fact sheet, Tomato Grafting for Disease Resistance and Increased Productivity, that helps farmers and agricultural educators learn how to graft tomatoes to fight disease and improve the health and vigor of tomato crops.

Growers interested in experimenting with this novel approach of improving resistance to soil-borne pathogens will find:

• Helpful tips for grafting plants, including variety selection based on
resistance to particular diseases, step-by-step grafting techniques and caring
for grafted plants;

• Instructions for building a healing chamber for newly grafted plants, and for
transplanting them to the field;

• An analysis of the economic viability of grafting under different conditions.

Still a relatively uncommon practice in the United States, researchers around
the world have demonstrated that grafting can protect plants against a variety of soil-borne fungal, bacterial, viral and nematode diseases, such as Verticillium and Fusarium wilt (FW), corky root rot, root-knot nematodes, bacterial wilt, southern blight and other diseases.

Grafting is on the rise in the United States, since it has been shown to successfully manage bacterial wilt in tomatoes, even in severely infested soils.

In western North Carolina, for example, a resistant rootstock was used to reduce bacterial wilt in tomatoes: At season's end, nearly 90 percent of the control plants died while 100 percent of the grafted plants not only survived, but their yield was more than two fold that of the surviving non-grafted plants.

Want more information? See the related SARE grant(s) GS05-046, Inducing Disease Resistance and Increased Production in Organic Heirloom Tomato Production Through Grafting, GS07-060, Potential of grafting to improve nutrient management of heirloom tomatoes on organic farms, LS06-193, Grafting Rootstocks onto Heirloom and Locally Adapted Tomato Selections to Confer Resistance to Root-knot Nematodes and other Soil Borne Diseases and to Increase Nutrient Uptake Efficiency in an Intensive Farming System for Market Gardeners, and OS09-046, Grafting Heirloom Tomatoes on Disease Resistant Rootstock in Western North Carolina.

Go to SARE's Learning Center for these and other publications.

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