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  • Author or Editor: Alexander D. Plummer x
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Seedless cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is a popular and high-value crop found in many local food markets. Worldwide, it is the third most important high tunnel crop after tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and pepper (Capsicum annuum). One challenge of growing seedless cucumbers in high tunnels is low soil temperatures in the early season that suppress plant growth even when air temperatures would be adequate. Grafting cucumbers to enhance crop tolerance to suboptimal temperature stresses has been widely used in Asian countries. However, little information is available in the United States about graft compatibility, cold hardiness, and seasonal extension potential of growing grafted seedless cucumbers in high tunnels. In this study, we tested the effects of grafting with two winter squash (Cucurbita moschata) rootstocks (‘Titan’ and ‘Marvel’) on vegetative growth and yield of three seedless cucumbers (‘Excelsior’ pickling cucumber, ‘Socrates’ Beit Alpha cucumber, and ‘Taurus’ long-type cucumber) in the spring seasons of 2016 and 2017 in high tunnels located in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zone 6. Nongrafted plants were included as controls. All grafted plants survived the suboptimal temperature stress during transplant period, whereas 59% of nongrafted plants died in the 2016 season. Irrespective of rootstock and cucumber cultivar, vine growth rates of nongrafted cucumbers in April of both years were lower than those of the grafted crops. Cucumber cultivars Excelsior and Taurus grafted onto Marvel winter squash rootstock had higher yields in May 2016 compared with the yields of the nongrafted plants in the same month. The enhanced early-season yields of grafted plants were observed on cucumber cultivars Excelsior and Socrates in 2017 regardless of rootstocks. Grafting also increased the entire season’s yields of the three cucumber cultivars in 2017, but not in 2016. More comprehensive evaluations about cold tolerances of newly released cucumber rootstocks are needed. Further studies are also warranted to improve our understanding of effects of rootstock and scion interactions on cucumber growth and yield in high tunnel production.

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