Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE09-658.
This project evaluated ‘Maxifort’ rootstock for its ability to manage verticillium wilt (race 2) and other soilborne diseases in multi-bay high tunnels. Furthermore, grafted plants were produced at a local commercial propagation facility to determine the actual costs and benefits of grafted transplant production and utilization for multi-bay high tunnels. ‘BHN 589’ was used for the scion in grafted treatments and non-grafted controls. The results of this study suggest that grafting with ‘Maxifort’ rootstock can increase yield for high tunnel growers in the northeast that face disease pressure from verticillium wilt (race 2). ‘Maxifort’ was susceptible to V. dahliae, but maintained high yields, and the main effects of grafting showed significantly more fruit yield in both years (P<0.01). Furthermore, in-row plant spacing was manipulated to reduce the economic constraints of grafting, and our results suggest that 24” in-row spacing is the optimum plant spacing for grafted plants. Plant spacing is an important consideration for growers wishing to use grafted plants as they are more expensive that non-grafted plants. Our results showed that grafting increased production costs by $1.12 per plant. In 2009, the fumigation treatment was effective, and the results from this trial suggest that grafting with ‘Maxifort’ rootstock provides tolerance to V. dahliae through increased plant vigor. However, further research is needed to verify this trend.. This study also showed that although grafting substantially increases transplant costs, it is an economically effective management strategy. The top performing treatment in 2009 provided $12,960 more profit per acre in comparison with my standard non-grafted systems. Furthermore, the results from the research trial show that I can eliminate fumigation from my farming system and still retain profitability.
This project has three primary objectives. 1. To evaluate tomato rootstock for its ability to manage verticillium wilt (race 2) and other soil borne diseases in multi-bay high tunnels. Disease incidence and yield will be observed with and without chemical fumigation. 2. To determine the actual costs associated with commercial, large-scale grafted transplant production as this is a question many growers are now asking due to the success grafting has achieved. 3. An aggressive outreach program has been developed to convey the findings and importance of this study to farmers in the Northeast region. A field day is planned during the growing season and a half-day grafting workshop and speaking session will be held during the 2010 Mid-Atlantic Vegetable Conference.