Integrated Use of Grafting Technology to Improve Disease Resistance, Yield and Fruit Quality in Organic Heirloom Tomato Production
The effectiveness of using rootstocks to provide resistance or tolerance to soilborne diseases and root-knot nematodes could not be evaluated because these pressures were not observed. Grafted plants produced similar yields to non-grafted plants for both scion cultivars. Vigor was greater for both scions when grafted to the rootstock ‘Multifort’ suggesting that rootstock selection effects plant growth. Taste tests were not definitive and will be revised for 2011 to examine if rootstock selection has an effect on fruit taste. Nutritional content for measured attributes were statistically similar within scion varieties. Economic feasibility and outreach will be determined in 2011.
- Objective 1: Examine the effectiveness of using rootstocks in organic production of grafted heirloom tomato to provide resistance or tolerance to soilborne diseases and root-knot nematodes
Objective 2: Assess growth promotion, yield increase, and fruit quality in grafted heirloom tomato production under organic growing conditions
Objective 3: Analyze the costs and returns of producing and using grafted heirloom tomatoes in organic farming systems and provide updated information on the economic feasibility of adopting tomato grafting technology for these systems
Objective 4: Outreach; Teach growers and extension agents how to graft and about the benefits of grafting and work with growers and extension agents to increase and promote sustainability in agriculture
The first year (2010) has been completed of this two year trial. In the first year we measured grafting effects on plant growth, yield, and fruit quality. In the second year we will repeat our first year trial and measurements with some modifications. We added two new trials to ensure root-knot nematode pressure; an on farm trial in an organic high tunnel and a transitional organic trial, both have a history of nematode pressure. This year we will also adjust our consumer taste test to provide more specific results and we will include a trained taste panel to obtain a descriptive analysis. This year we will analyze our costs and returns from both years to determine the economic feasibility of adopting grafting in organic cropping systems. Finally, this year we will finish developing our outreach materials and disseminate the information we have compiled among growers and extension agents with posters, demonstrations, and workshops.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
This research will benefit producers and consumers in the Southern Region by providing relevant information about an alternative practice to chemical pest and disease control. Grafting can provide environmental and social benefits by reducing application and ingestion of synthetic biocides. For organic and sustainable grower that cannot use synthetic chemicals, this research will provide an option for overcoming soilborne diseases and root-knot nematodes that can be produced on their farm. This research will help growers determine if grafting could be used on their farm and with what risks. We are planning to teach this technique to growers and county extension agents and encourage them to share their input and experiences. By starting the grafting conversation we will raise awareness of this technique that has been successfully used in Asian and Mediterranean countries for decades.
University of Florida, Department of Horticultural Sciences
1117 Fifield Hall
PO Box 110690
Gainesville, FL 32611-0690
Office Phone: 3523921928