Seedlings for Grafted Vegetables in South Africa
Why Farmers Buy Seedlings for Grafted Vegetables in South AfricaPropagating grafted vegetables, although a relatively new way of farming for South African commercial crop producers, has a long history. The innovative technique for producing plants with improved tolerance for certain soil-borne diseases, climate conditions, and stress related to biotic and abiotic factors, has taken off over the past two decades.
How Grafting WorksAlthough several methods exist for grafting plants, the outcome is the same. It is a horticultural solution that works exceptionally well with sustainable farming approaches to help reduce the need for pesticides and having to leave a growth area barren for two seasons before being able to plant on it again.
The approach entails cutting the stem while the vegetable plant is still in the plug stage, and then grafting or attaching it to the rootstock of another vegetable plant to have them grow as one. Although the plants grow as one, in reality, the rootstock and the upper part retain their individual characteristics.
Watermelon was the first interspecific commercial crop grown from grafted seedlings on record. This was in Japan as far back as 1920. Three decades would follow before the commercial interspecific grafting of eggplants for commercial crop farming would follow. Further grafting practices of muskmelon on hybrid squash revealed the potential for a reduction in vine decline.
Today, farmers in South Africa benefit from the ongoing research and technique development from bulk supply nurseries. Everything from tomatoes to melons, watermelons, cucumbers, and peppers are available as grafted seedlings.
Advantages of Grafted Vegetables
Propagating vegetables from grafted seedlings holds benefits, such as:
- Improved growth with the plants often showing more vigour than regular vegetable seedlings.
- Higher yield
- Improved fruit quality
- Improved tolerance for climate conditions
- Improved tolerance for certain soil-borne conditions
- Better uniformity in stand
- Specific desired characteristics are possible
- Reduced usage of pesticides and chemicals
- Makes it possible to grow crops in the same field as used in the previous planting season
Important Factors that Affect the Success of Grafted Vegetables
Although self-grafting is possible, it is a time-consuming and research-intensive process. Most farmers in South Africa do not have the time to do so. Horticultural and agronomic knowledge is important to ensure consistency. Bulk nurseries have the resources, experts, and facilities to conduct research and experiments. They supply seedlings that have the desired characteristics. As such, farmers do not have to go through the lengthy, expensive, and research-intensive processes. They receive the plants already grafted and can simply transplant the seedlings according to nursery guidelines. The nurseries already ensure that the critical prerequisites for successful grafting have been met. These include:
- Choosing relevant scions (the upper part of the plant consisting of the stem and foliage) to attach to the rootstock (consisting of the lower part of the plant stem and roots).
- Doing the grafting at the right stage.
- Choosing compatible scion and rootstock to improve the success rate.
- Using the right tools for the process that include everything from tubes and pins to blades and clips.
- Selecting scion and rootstock with the same stem diameter.
- Having a screening facility where the plugs are grown before grafting is done.
- Following the right healing procedure after grafting to ensure the forming of the callus.
- Having a curative facility where the temperature is controlled along with the humidity level.
- Acclimatisation of the grafted plants after callus formation with misting in a greenhouse facility where the plants are protected against sunburn and wilting.
Several types of grafting methods exist. Nurseries choose the relevant approaches and can use combinations to achieve the desired results. Some of these methods for grafted vegetables include:
- Hole insertion
With such complexity involved, it becomes clear why South African farmers rely on the expertise of bulk nurseries when it comes to the supply of quality grafted vegetables.
Hishtil SA offers farmers technical support, a range of seedlings, and delivery throughout South Africa. Renowned for quality plants and a proven track record of success, the nursery is the go-to-supplier for guidance and the supply of seedlings for farming with grafted vegetables in South Africa. Farmers who are interested in more information can connect with the agronomists at Hishtil SA.