Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 10, 2008
Publication Date: September 24, 2008
Citation: Kubota, C., Mcclure, M., Burelle, N.K., Bausher, M.G., Rosskopf, E.N. 2008. Vegetable Grafting: History, Use, and Current Technology Status in North America.. HortScience. 43(6):1664-1669
Interpretive Summary: Vegetable grafting is a technique which can be used to create plants which have disease resistance from soil borne organisms. Simply put you can “build” a tomato plant which can produce the type of fruit you desire with roots that are resistant to particular disease problems. While this technique is used in other nations (particularly Europe and Asia)it has not been adopted in the US for field plantings of vegetable crops. The use grafting techniques for field production requires further research to determine the horticultural and economic impact on different farming systems and climatic conditions.
Grafting of vegetable seedlings is a unique horticultural technology practiced for many years in East Asia to overcome issues associated with intensive cultivation using limited arable land. This technology was introduced to Europe and other countries in the late 20th century, along with improved grafting methods suitable for commercial production of grafted vegetable seedlings. Later, grafting was introduced to North America from Europe and it is now attracting growing interest, both from greenhouse growers and organic producers. Grafting onto specific rootstocks generally provides resistance to soil-borne diseases and nematodes and increases yield. Use of grafting is known to be an effective technology for sustainable crop production using reduced soil fumigants in many other countries. Currently over 40 million grafted tomato seedlings are estimated to be used annually in North American greenhouses, and several commercial trials have been conducted for promoting use of grated melon seedlings in open-fields. Nevertheless, there are issues identified that currently limit the further promotion of the use of grafted seedlings in North America. One issue unique to the U.S. is the large number of seedlings needed in a single shipment for large scale open-field production. Semi- or fully-automated grafting robots were invented by several agricultural machine industries in 1990s, yet the models available in the U.S are limited. The lack of flexibility of the existing robots also limits their wider use. Strategies to resolve these issues are discussed including use of highly controlled environment for producing standardized seedlings suitable for automation and better storage techniques. To use this technology widely in North American fresh vegetable production, more information and locally collected scientific and technical data are needed.