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Sacha J. Johnson and Carol A. Miles

Successful grafting of vegetables requires high relative humidity (RH) and optimal temperatures for ≈1 week following grafting to reduce transpiration of the scion until rootstock and scion vascular tissue are healed together and water transport is restored. This study evaluated the effect of three healing chamber designs on the survival of grafted eggplant (Solanum melongena), tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), and watermelon (Citrullus lanatus). The three healing chamber designs were 1) an industry design, which was hand-misted, 2) a research design, which contained a humidifier, and 3) a simplified design, which was shadecloth only and hand-misted. All plants were self-grafted using the splice grafting technique, placed in the healing chamber for 7 days after grafting and evaluated for signs of wilting and graft failure from day 6 to day 14 after grafting. During the 7-day healing period, the industry design had the greatest fluctuation in temperature, the research design had the greatest fluctuation in RH, and the shadecloth only design had the least fluctuation in both temperature and RH. When the healing chambers were closed on day 2 after grafting, the industry healing chamber had higher mean temperature and RH (24.9 °C, 98%) than both the research (23.4 °C, 81%) and shadecloth only (23.3 °C, 52%) healing chambers. These results suggest that a humidifier may not be necessary to maintain high RH. Mean graft survival rates in the industry (69%) and research (66%) healing chambers were similar, and both were higher than that in the shadecloth only healing chamber (52%). Tomato had the highest rate (98%), eggplant was intermediate (82%), and watermelon had the lowest mean survival rate (7%); there was no interaction between healing chamber and crop. The very low survival rate of watermelon was most likely due to the grafting technique used in this study, which is not optimal for watermelon. Tomato graft survival was high in all three healing chambers (96% to 98%), suggesting that high RH is not essential for tomato graft survival. Eggplant graft survival decreased from 90% to 60% when RH was decreased, suggesting that high RH is essential for eggplant graft survival.