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Grafted Seedlings

How Farmers Benefit from Propagating Crops from Grafted Seedlings

Grafted seedlings are now available to commercial farmers in South Africa. However, to gain a better understanding of how farmers can benefit from propagating various vegetable crops from grafted seedlings, it is important to first look at what grafting entails.  

How Grafting Works

It is the insertion of a shoot, called the scion, of one plant in the stem of another plant. The plant into which the scion is transplanted is called the rootstock. The scion is inserted in a groove that is made in the rootstock’s stem. Once grafted, the two plants grow as one.

Why Grafting Is Done

The procedure makes it possible for plants with strong root systems but poor shoot quality to grow better shoots – and the other way around. In order to obtain the best results, extensive research is done to ensure superior-quality grafted seedlings. In essence, well-researched and propagated grafted seedlings meaningfully increase production. The technique is not new; in fact, it has been in use for well over 4000 years. However, there are few suppliers of grafted seedlings that provide them in bulk for commercial farming. Hishtil SA is one such a supplier and considered the leader in the research and propagation of grafted seedlings for commercial-farming in South Africa. The facilities where these seedlings are grown provide the ideal environment in which to fuse the scions onto rootstocks.

The Advantages of Grafting

Producers benefit from the use of grafted seedlings in the sense that farmers can grow crops from grafted seedlings that are already tolerant of many soil-borne pests. Farmers can use fewer chemicals than with ungrafted plants. Another benefit not to overlook is that it is possible to produce plants bearing bigger fruit and providing an improved yield. Growing from grafted seedlings also means being able to grow vegetables with an improved shelf life. Commercial farmers struggle to propagate vegetables in soil that has high nematode levels. However, propagating from grafted seedlings that have nematode-resistant root systems makes it possible to get good yields. Though the plants still have nematodes in their root systems, they are stronger and thus grow strongly, regardless of the strain.

Grafted seedlings are well suited for outdoor and undercover farming; in fact, it is possible to increase the yield in the cooler season to ensure optimal production levels. Planting grafted seedlings enables the commercial farmer to benefit from denser crops, making it possible to plant less and getting higher yields. Grafting makes it possible to grow plants with a higher tolerance for environmental stressors, such as low soil temperature, the presence of boron, and high salinity levels. The grafted seedlings available from Hishtil SA include the following:
  • Watermelon;
  • Tomato;
  • Cucumber;
  • Pepper; and
  • Melon

Though grafting is common practice in Japan and many European countries, Hishtil SA is currently the only nursery in South Africa able to produce enough grafted seedlings for commercial-farming purposes. The first commercial use of grafting was in the 20th century with Asia leading the way. By 2000, the practice was well established in Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan. With increased international pressure to reduce the use of chemicals in commercial vegetable farming, it has become essential to look at alternative means to propagate plants. Grafted seedlings are already chemically treated when the plants are delivered to the farmers. The farmers therefore do not have to use as many chemicals thanks to the plant characteristics and because they did not have to use chemicals during the seed-growing stages. As such, grafting is more environmentally friendly than growing directly from seed. It also helps to reduce the risks for the farmer.

Grafted seedlings may not be as affordable as seeds, but considering the plant consistency, higher yield, improved rootstock, and pest-free plants that can be produced through grafting, commercial farmers benefit greatly from planting grafted seedlings. Fusarium control is possible when propagating from grafted seedlings, as well as transferring carmine spider-mite resistance to the rootstock. With water being scarce in South Africa, it has become important to grow crops that are less reliant on intensive irrigation.

Get in touch for more information about the availability of grafted seedlings

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