Published Apr 4, 2012

Tomato Grafting Workshop at The Homestead

By Tomoko Ogawa

About 20 enthusiastic farmers/gardeners gathered together last Friday to learn how to successfully graft tomatoes.

At the beginning of the workshop, Eric Armbrecht told us about The Homestead, the living and learning center for people with autism, who hosted the workshop. Sally Worley from PFI then gave the overview of grafting history, explaining how grafting has a long history in horticulture crops. Vegetable grafting has been especially common in countries such as Korea, Mexico, Japan. While tomato grafting in particular is a fairly new concept in the US, it’s becoming more popular especially in Northeastern and Southeastern parts of the US.

Grafting is the practice of connecting two or more plants together to grow as a single plant, which consists of scion (top part of the plant, which produces the branches, leaves, flowers, and fruit) and rootstock (lower part of the plant, which produces the root system). For our workshop, we used Black Krim and Brandywine as scion. Rootstock should be chosen for its vigor, disease resistance, etc. and Maxifort is a very popular rootstock. However, as it was out of stock we used Emperador this time.

All the attendees practiced grafting. The grafted plants were then transported to the healing chamber that Jason Jones at The Homestead had prepared. Grafted tomato plants have to stay in the moist chamber with no light for four nights.

Some key tips to remember when grafting:

●Make sure plants are not water or nutrient stressed, but do NOT water the day you plan to graft because the water pressure will push the graft union apart.

●Have a clean working area

●Disinfect hands, tools, and grafting clips.

●Graft indoors (cloudy day or late afternoon is the best time)

●Be close to healing chamber, have healing chamber construct BEFORE grafting

●Get plants ready side by side- make sure you label clearly

The participants took home some seeds and clips to try grafting on their own. PFI will be in touch with them to record the success rates and collect feedback from their experiences to possibly design a larger scale research on tomato grafting as part of PFI cooperators’ program in 2013.

Some useful links on grafting:

North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service handout:

The University of Arizona website:

Washington State University Vegetable Research and Extension website:

Jason Jones gave us an update on the following day (Saturday, March 31): He has not seen any stress on grafted tomatoes. The chamber temperature is maintained at 74 degrees and 98% relative humidity.