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Vegetable growers: Learn tomato grafting during February workshop in Granville

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Written Tuesday, February 03, 2009  

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 Feb. 21, in Granville, tailored to growers interested in finding out more about this technique and related research trials.

The workshop will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Granville High School, located at 248 New Burg St., as part of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) annual conference.

“The workshop is an opportunity 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 Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center 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, 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.

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 or http://extension.osu.edu/~news/files/Workshop%20registration.pdf . 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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