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Researchers examine plant grafting

Agriculture scientists with Ohio State University


March 27, 2008
By Fruit & Vegetable

Topics

Agriculture scientists with Ohio
State University are taking a closer look at grafting as a different
way of producing vegetables.

Agriculture scientists with Ohio State University are taking a closer look at grafting as a different way of producing vegetables. While the propagation method  – which involves fusing together the tissue of two plants, one serving as the scion and the other the rootstock – is currently seldom used in North American vegetable production, its popularity is increasing in other parts of the world. It is regularly applied in Asia, where almost 95 per cent of Japan’s watermelon, oriental melon, eggplant, cucumber and tomato crops are grafted before being transplanted. Grafting is used as a way of improving plant growth, controlling plant diseases, providing tolerance to temperature and other stresses while increasing nutrient uptake.

“Breeding varieties tailored to organic production is a way to try to solve these problems but it’s a long-term solution,” says David Francis, a geneticist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and leader of the grafting research project. “What we want to do is demonstrate the feasibility of grafting as a compatible strategy, one which is likely to have a high impact in the short term.”

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The researchers plan to use tomato as the model crop for studying the propagation method’s viability in North America. Specific goals of the study include developing, testing and selecting rootstocks that improve fruit yield and quality plus developing an outreach program to teach growers grafting techniques, ultimately facilitating the creation of a domestic source of grafted vegetable transplants.
Input is currently being sought and compiled from vegetable farmers interested in how grafting can help in their operations.