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Grafting Plants for Commercial Crop Farming

Grafting Plants Holds Several Benefits for Commercial Crop Farming

 

Grafting plants to develop specific characteristics such as improved fruit quality, better stand, stronger roots, or an improved tolerance to soil-borne pathogens is not a new concept. However, the process requires the utmost precision and a lot of time and research to ensure the desired characteristics are obtained.

The grafting of plants can be described as intentionally combining the parts of two plants to cause them to fuse and eventually grow as one plant. Grafting plants entails transplanting a shoot that was cut earlier onto a cut made on the donor plant, which is called the rootstock. The upper part, above the graft, is called the scion. The lower part, underneath the graft, forms the root system. The genetic identity of the shoot is thus fused with the rootstock of another plant. Each retains its own characteristics but the two grow as one. With grafting it is possible to create plants with improved resistance to specific conditions. Such plants may also exhibit other characteristics such as larger or juicier fruit or higher yield capacity. Hishtil SA develops and produces all their scions and rootstocks from seed.

Historical Background of Grafting

The ancient civilisations originally grew only a few types of trees from seeds. They eventually propagated trees from rootstock. Domestication was limited to trees such as grape, olive, and fig. Later, they learnt the art of grafting, which made it possible to add apple, pear, and plum trees to this list. The process is still used in modern farming today.

Precision Is Key to Successful Grafting

For it to be successful, the vascular cambium tissues of the two parts must be in direct contact and kept alive until fusion takes place. This can take from a few days to several weeks. With it being such an intensive and specialised process, it takes up far too much time and resources for the average commercial farmer to use for the propagation of vegetables. However, large commercial nurseries such as Hishtil South Africa have the resources and expertise to graft vegetables in order to grow grafted seedlings, which can be delivered in bulk to commercial farmers. The seedlings have improved vigour and better resistance to soil-borne pathogens. Farmers benefit from having plants with stronger root systems and better-quality fruits. The seedlings are chemically treated before being delivered to the farmer in order to protect the young plugs against diseases and pests until the farmer can start with their chemical-treatment regime.

Growing from seedlings holds several advantages, such as a shorter time on the field and thus less exposure to diseases, pests, and environmental variables. The farmer does not have to be concerned about the losses associated with a percentage of seeds failing to germinate. With the crops on the field for a shorter period, the farmer saves on irrigation costs too and can start the crop from healthy and strong plants. Cost-effectiveness, reduced risk, and improved stand are among the many benefits associated with growing from grafted seedlings.

Grafting plants thus provides a host of benefits for the commercial farmer in South Africa. Everything from watermelons and melons to tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers can be grown from the seedlings as available from Hishtil South Africa.

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