Grafting Heritage African Eggplants for Disease Control and Enhanced Production

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2022: $26,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/29/2023
Grant Recipient: World Crops Farm
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
Project Leader:
Morris Gbolo
World Crops Farm


  • Vegetables: eggplant


  • Crop Production: grafting
  • Education and Training: demonstration, on-farm/ranch research

    Proposal summary:

    Morris Gbolo grows heritage African vegetables for Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern communities of African, South American, Asian and Carribean immigrants. He grows African eggplants and greens, okra, kale, and hot peppers. Most customers come to the farm for pick-your-own, along with some direct sales to specialty grocery stores. African eggplants, my most important crop, are also the most challenging as these heritage varieties do not have resistance to soil born diseases like standard American eggplants. Verticillium/Fusarium wilts and fungal leaf spots have been devastating to production, resulting in estimated losses of $20,000 to $25,000 annually. Chemical controls do not work effectively. The objectives of this project is to see if grafting my varieties onto resistant/vigorous rootstock will reduce losses to these diseases as reported in the literature. I plan to obtain seeds of 2-3 resistant rootstock eggplant varieties, have several of my own varieties grafted onto each rootstock by both a commercial grafting company and on my own. I will need to build a small grafting chamber and purchase grafting supplies, rootstock seeds, and pay for some professionally grafted seedlings to make sure our field trial can proceed. I also need to modify my transplanter to have better depth control to keep graft joints above the soil. I will work with my technical advisor to have a fully replicated field trial to evaluate disease control and yield changes, and also to distribute my project report to other growers in the state and region, and/or hold a field day. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. This project seeks to determine if grafting heritage African eggplant varieties onto resistant rootstock will reduce losses to root-born Verticillium/Fusarium and fungal leaf spot diseases and increase yield.
    2. This project will compare the cost and ease of producing one's own grafted transplants with those purchased from a commercial grafting company.
    3. This project will evaluate performance of several heritage eggplant varieties and rootstock combinations compared to non-grafted plants of same varieties.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.