Commercial Farming from Grafted Pepper Seedlings
Commercial Farming from Grafted Pepper Seedlings Is Now Possible in SA
Farmers can now grow peppers from grafted seedlings. “Grafted” refers to the process whereby parts of two plants are joined together to form a new plant. A cut is made into the stem of the one plant and the shoot of another is attached to it. After some time has passed, the plants fuse, but each part retains its unique characteristics. The part underneath the graft or cut is called the rootstock. It forms the root system and base of the new plant. The part fused onto the rootstock grows from the graft upwards and this is called the scion. It consists of the upper stem, leaves, and fruits.
In order to develop a stronger root system, the lower part of a plant with a good root system is used. To get qualities such as a high yield or larger fruits, the shoot from another plant with these characteristics is joined to the rootstock. Both parts of the new plant have their own unique characteristics. Hishtil South Africa is the only commercial nursery in South Africa able to supply grafted pepper seedlings in bulk to local farmers. The company propagates the grafted seedlings in temperature-controlled greenhouses. The plants are protected against pests and diseases and are chemically treated before being shipped to commercial farmers. This ensures adequate protection against pests and diseases during the establishment phase. The farmer saves money by not having to apply the initial chemical treatment.
The soil must be properly prepared before the grafted pepper seedlings are delivered to the farm, as it is essential to transplant the plugs immediately. Part of this process entails performing a soil analysis to determine which nutrients must be added and to ensure the correct pH level of the soil. The soil must be irrigated before transplanting the seedlings and immediately afterwards. During the initial establishment phase of the peppers, it is important to keep the upper 5-10 cm of the soil moist to avoid root stress. Once the plants are a bit older, irrigation must be adapted to ensure deeper moisture penetration for the root systems. Over-watering must be avoided.
Peppers do best in warmer temperatures. If the grafted pepper seedlings are transplanted during a cool period, the farmer should protect the plugs with mulch. In the case of plastic mulch, the farmer should see to it that the plastic does not touch the plants’ stems. Grafted pepper seedlings are not suitable for open-field production. All transplanting must be done to well-aerated and -drained soil. The soil must be weed-free and the holes for the plugs must already have been made by the time the plants are delivered to the farm. The plugs must also be watered before transplanting and directly afterwards again to help with their establishment. Careful monitoring of the pepper plants is essential after transplanting, as plants experience an initial shock when moved to new soil.
Farmers interested in growing peppers from grafted seedlings should get in touch with the Hishtil South Africa nursery for more information and to place their orders.
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