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  • Author or Editor: Amnon Koren* x
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Achieving a uniform stand of grafted vegetable transplants in the field is critical to the grower because of the high cost of the grafted transplants. Low and erratic stands can lead to monetary losses even in an otherwise successful crop. Establishing a uniform stand of grafted vegetable transplants in the field depends on several additive parameters prevailing in the nursery and in the field. These include seed quality, grafted-transplant quality, and agrotechniques suitable for the special needs of grafted transplants. Seed quality and seed health should be given special emphasis as compared with non-grafted-transplant production. Grafted transplants spend more time in the nursery, are treated manually more, and are more susceptible to seed-borne pathogens. Field preparation, plastic mulch, irrigation and fertilization are important, especially in warm, mediterranean climates.

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Grafting technology for vegetable transplants was introduced to Israel eight years ago by Hishtil Nurseries, Inc. The main goal of grafting was to find a substitute for methyl bromide, the elimination of which was pending. The use of grafted watermelon transplants soon followed. Presently, more than 40% of watermelon transplants are grafted. The chief reason for the success of grafted transplants is their tolerance to soil-borne pathogens, including Fusarium, Monosporascus, and Macrophomina. Yields of grafted transplants are often much higher, and it has been shown possible to grow watermelons with saline water (4.5). A limitation of grafted transplants is that presently, we do not have a good solution for nematodes. A drawback is that in order to get good watermelon taste and flavour, the grower needs the experience to adjust agrotechniques, especially determining the best harvest date. Grafted tomato transplants were also introduced early on. Grafted tomato transplants can have excellent resistance to fusarium crown rot, corky root, and other soil-borne pathogens. Some rootstocks have been observed to tolerate water salinity of 8 ec and still produce commercially acceptable yields. Limitations to the use of grafted tomato transplants are the lack of compatibility of some of the cultivars with the rootstocks and the breakdown of nematode resistance at high soil temperatures. Melons, eggplants, and cucumbers are grafted under some conditions.

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