Vegetable Growers: Learn Tomato Grafting at Jan. 27 Workshop in Wooster

January 15, 2009

WOOSTER, Ohio — Grafting in vegetable production can lead to plants that are stronger, have a higher yield, and are more resistant to disease and stress. Ohio State University is offering a workshop on tomato grafting on Tuesday, Jan. 27, in Wooster, tailored to growers interested in finding out more about this technique and related research trials.

The workshop will be held from 12:30-5 p.m. at Fisher Auditorium, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, on the campus of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC).

A similar workshop will be offered on Saturday, Feb. 21, at Granville High School, 248 New Burg St., Granville, Ohio, from 9:30-11:30 a.m., as part of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) annual conference.

“These workshops represent opportunities for growers to become ‘early-adopters’ of this technology, to become familiar with some of the newest information on the topic (from projects conducted by OSU and its partners), to share what they know about it, and to shape the overall, near-term, grafting-related research-extension agenda,” said Matt Kleinhenz, a vegetable specialist with OARDC and OSU Extension and one of the workshop presenters.

The popularity of grafting is increasing around the world as a means to improve plant growth, control diseases, provide tolerance to temperature and other stresses, and increase nutrient uptake. Grafted plants are widely used in the high-input greenhouse environment and are very popular among farmers in Asia. In Japan, for example, almost 95 percent of watermelon, oriental melon, eggplant, cucumber and tomato plants are grafted before being transplanted to the field or greenhouse.

“Vegetable crops grown under organic and sustainable production systems in the Midwest are challenged by nutrient availability, pathogens, low soil temperature during planting, and fluctuations in moisture,” said David Francis, an OARDC geneticist and another presenter at the workshops. “Breeding varieties tailored to organic production is a way to try to solve these problems, but it’s a long-term solution. What we want to do is demonstrate the feasibility of grafting as a compatible strategy, one which is likely to have high impact in the short term.”

Kleinhenz, Francis, OARDC plant pathologist Brian McSpadden-Gardener, and OARDC and OSU Extension vegetable pathologist Sally Miller (also workshop presenters) are using tomatoes as a model to study grafting as a viable method for vegetable farming in the region. Study goals include developing, testing and selecting rootstocks that improve fruit yield and quality in organic production systems; and working with growers and small greenhouse and nursery operations to facilitate the creation of a domestic source of grafted vegetable transplants.

“Overall, grafting is an emerging technology in vegetable production, relatively few academic-industry teams are involved at this time, and much needs to be learned to successfully employ grafted plants (in field and high-tunnel settings) more widely,” Kleinhenz pointed out.

Registration for the Wooster workshop costs $25 for the first registrant and $10 for each additional registrant from the same family or business, and includes a grafting guide and resource packet and refreshments. To register, mail a check for the total amount (payable to Ohio State University), number of people attending, and their names and affiliation to Matt Kleinhenz, Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, Gourley Hall, OARDC, 1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691.

For more information, contact Kleinhenz at (330) 263-3810 or kleinhenz.1@osu.edu.

Those interested in participating in the Granville workshop must register for the OEFFA conference. For more information, contact OEFFA at (614) 421-2022 or log on to http://www.oeffa.org. Pre-registration for the grafting workshop is required.

OARDC and OSU Extension are the research and outreach arms, respectively, of Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

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Author(s): 
Mauricio Espinoza
Source(s): 
Matt Kleinhenz