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

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2006: $193,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Mary Peet
North Carolina State University

Annual Reports


  • Vegetables: tomatoes


  • Production Systems: general crop production


    Summary 2006-2009

    In a 2006 controlled environment experiment, shoot and root biomass, height and most total tissue nutrient concentrations were greater in grafted treatments. In replicated 2007-2008 field and high tunnel trials at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, Goldsboro, NC, yields of grafted organic heirloom tomatoes were higher than non-grafts. Both years fruit weight and fruit number were higher and production peaked three weeks earlier in the tunnel system than the field. In on-farm trials, soilborne diseases such as bacterial wilt, root-knot nematode, Fusarium wilt and southern stem blight were effectively managed utilizing rootstocks.

    Tables, appendices with figures or graphs mentioned in this report
    are on file in the Southern SARE office.
    Contact Sue Blum at 770-229-3350 or for a hard copy.

    Project objectives:

    Objectives and Performance Targets:
    1. 1. Improve grafting, acclimation and transplanting techniques.
      2. Select appropriate rootstocks for root-knot nematodes and other soilborne diseases.
      3. Select appropriate rootstocks for increased nutrient uptake efficiency and other horticulturally valuable traits, such as fruit quality, earliness, vigor, and resistance to pests.
      4. Test training and establishment techniques for grafted rootstocks, including single and multiple head systems.
      5. Compare performance of scions grafted onto resistant rootstocks, self-grafted and non-grafted controls under realistic conditions of soilborne disease pressure.
      6. Compare performance of scions grafted onto resistant rootstocks, self-grafted and non-grafted controls under optimal growing conditions on an organic research station.
      7. Evaluate a grafted rootstock-high tunnel tomato system for feasibility, including a preliminary assessment of the economics. This system will be compared with open-field production.
      8. Identify promising avenues for future research and development.
    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.