Grafted veggies are next season's celebrity seeds

Associated Press
In this publicity photo provided by courtesy Ball Horticultural Co., side-by-side tests run by Ball Horticultural Co. show at least 50 percent higher yields from grafted tomato transplants, left, over non-grafted varieties, right, as seen here at Log House Plants Nursery, in Cottage Grove, O.R. That total varies somewhat depending upon garden and gardener but means more fruit or larger fruit.  Grafted vegetables are expected to be a big hit in seed catalogs and retail stores next season. (AP Photo/Ball Horticultural Co., Robin Bachtler Cushman)
.

View gallery

In many of the seed catalogs arriving soon in mailboxes, the headliners will be grafted vegetables, in which one or more different varieties grow from a single rootstock. Tomatoes seem to be the grafted transplants most frequently offered, providing greater disease tolerance, bigger harvests, increased vigor and better taste.

Side-by-side tests done by Ball Horticultural Co. in Chicago have shown at least 50 percent higher yields from grafted tomatoes than from non-grafted varieties. That total varies from garden to garden and gardener to gardener, but it means more fruit or larger fruit.

Grafted plants are also pricier, in part because grafting is labor intensive.

"You're also paying for disease insurance and a greatly improved yield," said Scott Mozingo, product manager for Burpee Home Gardens, a Ball Horticultural subsidiary. "You're paying more but what you're getting is so much more."

Grafting is an ancient horticultural practice that fuses tissues from one genetically different plant to those from another, combining, for example, disease management with heirloom flavors. Think apple trees, grapevines and roses.

Vegetables have been late entries in large-scale grafting programs intended for home gardeners, particularly in the United States. But that is about to change.

"It's been primarily because the (horticultural) industry here hasn't been set up for it," Mozingo said. "Grafted vegetables have been big in Asia for 70 years. In Europe, for about a decade. It's been largely a supply problem, but I think they're going to be a very big thing in seed catalogs next season. A very big thing in retail, too."

Grafted plants aren't any more difficult to work with than non-grafted ones, but do require slightly different management. That includes:

— Planting them deeper. "They're tall tomato plants so they need a deeper base," Mozingo said. "But don't bury the grafts. Those should be above the soil line or you cancel out the benefits."

— Pruning. "The plants are so vigorous that they produce a lot of vegetative material," said Josh Kirschenbaum, product development coordinator and spokesman for Territorial Seed Co. in Cottage Grove, Ore. "There won't be as much fruit production if they don't get pruned."

— Adding trellises. "Towers or cages are pretty close to being mandatory," Kirschenbaum said. "These plants are so energetic and grow so tall that it's important you give them some kind of support."

— Easing off on the chemicals. Grafted vegetables have better natural defenses against ground-borne diseases and insects. Fewer pesticides and herbicides are needed.

The potted plants will be offered with single or double grafts. Grafted peppers and eggplant will be offered along with tomatoes in many catalogs. Grafted cucumbers and watermelons may be added to the inventory once nurseries solve the logistics.

"Both vine out pretty quickly," Kirschenbaum said. "We aren't ruling them out, but we will have to come up with a clever way to get those plants shipped to our customers."

At least one additional benefit can be derived from gardening with grafted plants: their entertainment value.

"It's fun to say you can grow red cherry tomatoes and orange cherry tomatoes on one plant," Kirschenbaum said. "Or Beefsteaks with a Roma."

___

Online:

http://www.graftedveg.com .

You can contact Dean Fosdick at deanfosdick(at)netscape.net

View Comments (0)

Recommended for You

  • David Cassidy prepares to auction Florida mansion

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Like many of his baby boomer peers with grown children and debts to settle, one-time heartthrob David Cassidy is looking to downsize.

    Associated Press40 mins ago
  • Luggage piece found on French island near possible MH370 debris

    Part of a bag was found Thursday on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion not far from plane debris which has fuelled speculation it may be from missing flight MH370. "The piece of luggage was here since yesterday but nobody really paid attention," said Johnny Begue, a member of a local…

    AFP
  • Family Pet-Sitter Helps Herself To Homeowner's Possessions

    DEAR ABBY: A trusted and beloved family member who takes care of my cats -- and therefore has a key to my house -- has been stealing things like cleaning supplies, knickknacks, family pictures, etc. Most of them have little monetary value. But imagine my surprise when I spotted some of my missing…

    Dear Abby
  • Turkey onslaught on Kurds, after IS attack, fuels anger

    DIYARBAKIR, Turkey (AP) — Just when it seemed Turkey was getting serious about the fight against IS, it has turned its military focus to pounding its old foe: the Kurdish rebels.

    Associated Press33 mins ago
  • An American Dentist Killed Zimbabwe’s Famous Lion

    Cecil the lion, a famous black-maned resident of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, died at the hands of an American dentist, conservationists claim. “Mr. Palmer shot Cecil with a bow and arrow but this shot didn't kill him,” Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said in…

    TakePart.com
  • Chicago man cleared after 17 years in prison shot dead

    CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago man who served 17 years in prison for murder before being cleared of the crime has been shot and killed almost three years after being released from prison, police said Wednesday.

    Associated Press
  • Russia reassures Israel over Iran nuclear deal

    Russian President Vladimir Putin told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that the deal on Iran's nuclear program would improve security in the Middle East and guaranteed that Tehran would not acquire nuclear arms. Israel plans to lobby the U.S. Congress not to approve the…

    Reuters
  • Dashcam catches off-duty cop threatening to put 'hole in head' of driver

    Technically Incorrect: A Massachusetts driver makes a wrong turn. What happens next, all filmed on his dashcam, has led to an investigation. And yes, it's now on YouTube.

    CNET
  • Hidden Security Cameras Are Shocking Surprise For Daughter

    DEAR ABBY: I'm a 19-year-old woman in college who still lives with my parents. I found out something several weeks ago that's bothering me, and I need advice badly. Years ago, after a robbery, my parents installed security cameras outside our house. I knew about them because they were visible. But…

    Dear Abby
  • Colorado theater shooter's dad saw wide-eyed smirk before

    CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — James Holmes came home on winter break from graduate school looking haggard and making odd facial expressions, but his father didn't suspect at the time that he was descending into mental illness.

    Associated Press
  • China to prosecute former top officer for graft

    China will prosecute a former top military officer for corruption, the government said on Thursday, the second senior officer to be investigated, as President Xi Jinping widens his campaign against deep-rooted graft in the country. Guo Boxiong, 73, was a vice chairman of the powerful Central…

    Reuters
  • Killer deal: Amazon will pay you $10 to buy a $30 Google Chromecast

    Google’s little Chromecast dongle is pretty awesome. The device plugs into the HDMI port on any HDTV or monitor and instantly gives users access to movies, TV shows, videos, music, photos and more that can be streamed from any Android device. Best of all, perhaps, the Chromecast is wonderfully…

    BGR News
  • Play

    Custom truck built by father and son stolen in Lemoore

    A Lemoore man is on the hunt for his stolen pick-up truck. The classic custom ride holds significant sentiment to its owner, who built the truck with his late father.

    KFSN – Fresno
  • Police Officer Involved in Deadly Cincinnati Shooting of Samuel DuBose Indicted for Murder, Dismissed from Force

    "I'm treating him like a murderer," prosecutor Joseph Deters said during a news conference when describing the warrant out for a police officer who killed Samuel DuBose, 43, earlier this month. Footage released today from a police officer's body cam lasts about 10 minutes and shows the shooting.…

    ABC News
  • At least '18 dead' in IS attack on Kurd-held Syria town

    At least 18 people were killed Thursday when Islamic State group jihadists attacked a town in northern Syria recently captured by Kurdish forces, a monitor said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said several IS fighters infiltrated Sarrin, in Aleppo province, and attacked a school…

    AFP
  • Goat's head nearly severed in brutal knife attack in Idaho

    A small goat was nearly decapitated and another goat died from a "heinous" knife attack on the animals in a fenced and locked site where they had been placed to graze on weeds in northern Idaho, a police spokeswoman said on Wednesday. A third goat is being treated for a knife wound in its back from…

    Reuters
  • Internet mauls dentist accused of illegal kill of popular lion

    Technically Incorrect: Walter Palmer, a dentist in Minnesota, has his Yelp entry attacked by those not fond of his allegedly illegal killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe.

    CNET