Propagate Melon from Grafted Seedlings
How to Commercially Propagate Melon from Grafted Seedlings
Farmers in South Africa now have access to grafted melon seedlings for large-scale production of the crop. Hishtil South Africa grows the plugs in temperature-controlled greenhouse facilities. The plants are protected against the elements and against pests and diseases. Before delivering the grafted melon seedlings to the farmer, the nursery applies a chemical treatment. This helps to protect the grafted melon plugs against diseases and pests until the farmer can start with their normal chemical-treatment regime. Here are a few basic guidelines for transplanting the plugs to the field to ensure successful crop propagation.
The young plants are still vulnerable to strong winds and stormy conditions. If transplanting the grafted melon seedlings to a field where windy conditions are likely to be experienced, it would be advisable to add windbreaks and any other means necessary to protect the vulnerable plants against wind damage.
As with any crop, soil preparation must be done well in advance of transplanting the seedlings. Aerate the soil to a depth of 60 cm to improve drainage and to provide sufficiently loose soil for the roots. The soil must be free of weeds, as these compete for soil nutrients. Perform a soil analysis to determine the pH and the nutrient levels of the soil and to ensure that the required adjustments can be made to create the ideal growth environment for the melons. If mulch is used, make sure the plastic is tight at the ridges and doesn’t touch the plants’ stems. Keep in mind that the plugs will develop thicker stems as they grow. It is thus necessary to ensure that the holes in the plastic are big enough to prevent the plant stems from being burnt by the plastic on hot days.
Transplant the grafted melon seedlings on the day of delivery. Keep the plants in the shade until they are ready to be transplanted. Make sure the soil is well-irrigated before planting and irrigate again directly after the plugs have been transplanted. Never plant the seedlings in dry soil. Prepare plant holes of not more than 1 cm deeper than the seedlings’ height. Keep the graft zone above the soil during the planting process in order to minimise the risk of the scion bypassing the rootstock in the lower part of the plant below the graft. Make sure the plug is straight and compact the surrounding soil to prevent air pockets forming at the roots.
Do not over-water during the early period of establishment and adapt the fertilisation regime according to the needs of melons. Do not apply phosphate during the first month of establishment. Should outgrowths develop on the rootstock under the graft point during the period of early establishment, call the Hishtil South Africa consultants for advice on how to remove them. If transplanting in a cooler period, expect some yellowing of the plants; the original green colour will develop in the leaves at the onset of warmer weather.
Grafted melon seedlings have excellent vigour and tolerance to some of the fungal soil-borne diseases. Interested parties can obtain melon and other types of grafted seedlings directly from Hishtil South Africa.
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