The production and consumption of tomatoes in the United States and worldwide ranks it as a major vegetable crop. The use of methyl bromide fumigation for pest control is being phased out under the Montreal Protocol (EPA, 2010). There is also a need to find an alternative pest management program in both sustainable and organic vegetable production. Vegetative grafting is one of these methods and is currently used extensively in a number of countries using methods that produce plants grown in protected environments (Kubota et al., 2008). In the United States, fresh tomato is predominantly grown in the open field using drip or seep irrigation and raised beds covered with plastic mulch. In conventional systems, the soil is fumigated to control weeds and pests. The conditions that exist in the field are quite different from those found in protected agriculture where the plants are covered to give some protection from low-temperature events. In open-field production, however, there is a complete lack of environmental control, including heavy rainfall events (greater than 5 cm) and numerous soil diseases, pests, and weeds (Hutchinson et al., 2007). Fumigation with methyl bromide (MB) to control field biotic problems in tomato production is being permanently phased out in 2015. A number of alternatives, including other fumigants, are being evaluated but regulations concerning their use may make adoption a problem (Hutchinson et al., 2007; Rosskopf et al., 2005). One of the proposed strategies to deal with the loss of MB is the use of plants that are resistant to soil diseases in open-field production by using grafted seedlings. Although adoption of vegetative grafting has taken place in Asia, Europe, and recently Mexico, the use of some type of sheltering cover like high tunnels or netting is generally used. Little information is available concerning the use of grafted plants in unprotected open-field production common in the United States and other areas of the world. Most of the literature published on the subject of vegetable vegetative grafting techniques was developed for protected agriculture (Louws, 2006; Oda, 1999). This report documents an unintended consequence of working with grafted plants when current grafting techniques were used. The problem quite simply is the propensity for rootstocks of grafted tomato plants to outgrow the scion. The objective of this article is to describe the issue and outline protocols and procedures to substantially reduce rootstock suckering.
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