Cucumber & melon grafting

I got hit HARD by Fusarium wilt on my melons. While planning my 2019 gardening schedule I was planning on direct seeding my melons but then got the idea that it might be worth trialing grafting my desired variety onto fusarium wilt resistant rootstock. Anyone have any experience with this?

Admittedly I didn’t do much research into this topic before posting (and will update this post as I do) but I did come across a few research papers on the subject that I have yet to skim: paper 1, paper 2, paper 3

Calling @ross because I know he has plans to go all out on growing melons next year.

That’s one method people use. Another is heating the soil to kill the disease.

"The two most common rootstocks used for grafting
watermelon are cultivars of an interspecific hybrid squash (Cucurbita
moschata × C. maxima) and cultivars of bottle gourd (Lagenaria
siceraria) that were bred specifically for use as rootstocks
(19,43). "

I’d also be interested to hear if anyone has first hand experience using rootstock.

Alright, so I’m really stepping up my plans for melon grafting. Here are the rootstocks I am considering:

Bottle gourd (seed source) - most articles suggest this species but not any particular variety so I might just go with a generic variety. This is also a good alternative and is reported to have very high vigor

Thai Bottle gourd (seed source) - an edible variety that is supposedly extremely vigorous and resistant to squash vine borer (not sure if that matters)

Tetsukabuto squash (seed source) - a new edible variety on Johnny’s seeds, the first one that I found specifically recommended for use as rootstock; produces eye-popping yields in harsh conditions [...] Can also be used as a rootstock for enhancing vigor and soil disease resistance in melon, watermelon, and cucumber

Going to be ordering very soon. If anyone wants to participate in a community trial I can send you some seeds as long as you post your grafting results here.

Still need to figure out how I will run this trial as I only have space for 3-5 upright trellised melons depending on how aggressively I train/prune them.

Also posting this here for future use:

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Lot of info from forum members here.

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As a side note, does anyone know what the terminology is for finding cucumbers that continue to fruit on their existing stems versus ones that only fruit at the tips?

I grow mine vertically and prune them back heavily mid-late season but last year I learned that some varieties only fruit on the tips.

Lastly, not sure if I already linked it but this paper is the best technical guide I have found so far about melon grafting: Grafting Methods for Watermelon Production in: HortScience Volume 43 Issue 6 (2008)

Also this video that popped up in my recommendations:

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I don’t know if heating soil or grafting will help. This disease is usually spread by cucumber beetles:

The plants get infected by the beetles on the tops, I’m not sure if the disease then moves to the roots where a better stock would help or not.

That is the method I use, I did learn it from this video. I do find that the tinfoil can cut into the tender stem so I switched to teflon tape.

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I got a bag of 100 silicone clips for $7. They look like they will work well but only for stems 2-3mm thick. Ill be starting my melon seeds in a few more weeks so should be able to report how they work out then.

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I would love to see pictures.

It looks like you are talking about two different diseases. Bacteria wilt is carried by the cucumber beetle but Fusarium wilt isn’t. Fusarium wilt is a soil borne fungus so heating the soil can be helpful. Bacteria wilt as the name implies is a bacteria and I’m not aware of any benefit in heating the soil. The only thing I know of that will keep your cucurbits from contracting it is keeping the beetles off of your plants.

Oops right… just saw the “wilt”. I have only had problems with bacterial wilt, never fusarium wilt.

I stopped growing my favorite Persian cucumbers because of bacterial wilt… It is so widely spread in the country, and to me this is a good example of an absolute necessity for pesticides (against claims of successful organic agriculture)…

I just measured and I think they are ideal for 2.5 to 4.5 mm stems. Being made out of silicone I though they would have a weak grip but they are actually pretty strong.

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@Ahmad Grafting could help with bacterial wilt by way of making the scion grow more vigorously. If the plant is overall healthier it seems to be better able to ward off pests and disease in my experience. I really wish i had more space so I could have a bigger sample size…

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Generally, I would agree with you, however, with bacterial wilt my understanding is that the bacteria reproduce so much inside the xylem vessels completely blocking them, and thus shutting down nutrients and water transport from the roots to shoots. It is more of a physical effect rather than interfering with some biochemical process, so not sure how a different rootstock would help.

Anyhow, I am an experimentalist by profession, so would certainly give it a try, but this year I don’t have space for extra plants. So, will probably try this in 2020, which will also allow me to learn from your experience.

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I grafted muskmelon into african horned melon because nematodes. I planted one nongrafted one. Guess which one it was.

The grafted looked better early on, but i cant tell if production was better because the plants grew together too much. Never took the time to trace each fruit to mother plant.


I was actually thinking about trying that as a rootstock next year for the same reason. Did the melons have any off tastes? I was thinking about using citron melons too.

Problem is, I need something rootknot nematode resistant for my zucchini too.

there were no off tastes with the muskmelons. I did not measure brix but they have been plenty sweet such that we gobble them up pretty quickly. In 2018 and 2019, all of my non grafted ones died just before ripening their fruit. This year I only had one non grafted and as I said above I could not tell if it made any fruits. The plant definitely grew more slowly. I get around 75% takes on the grafts. There did seem to be some incompatibility with the israeli melons. The old israeli strain rotted at the graft union when they were starting to flower. The Ha’Ogen made plenty of fruits but they were not as sweet as advertised and when I pulled them up they also seemed to have some weak and rotting tissue at the graft union.