Tomato grafting 2021

How is your tomato grafting going? My first attempt was last year and none of them worked. This year things are looking a bit better. The only difference in what I did was I put the tomatoes in a warm area (85F) to callous, rather than the 65-70F I had them in last year. When I put them in the warmer area they wilted, but they started perking up again a few days later. I am slowly removing the covering now and won’t call it a success until it is all off, but it might be better than last year.

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I tried last year and it was a success. 5 out of 6 took and the grafted plants were way more vigorous and fruitful. The roots were 4 feet wide even though I didn’t plant them deep.

I’m running late this year…

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I grafted six plants last night. First attempt ever. The experience gave me even more respect for neonatal surgeons.

I placed them in the grow box at 75’ with the lid closed. So far none have wilted but I realize it’s too soon to tell.

Have more to graft in a few days - need to wait for the plants to reach the adequate thickness.

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My three year old rootstock seeds (DRO141TX and RST-04-106-T) didn’t germinate at all this year. Well, one did out of 24. They are small seeds and it’s looking like they don’t keep as well as my other tomato seeds- which is a damn shame because they were hard to find.

Having said that, my success last year in getting grafts to take did not yield plants that were noticeably better in any way than other non-grafted plants grown right next to them. As much work as it is getting grafts to take I think my experimenting with tomato grafting is over.

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Ouch, that’s sad to hear. Just when I finally got a few to work!

The main thing I am after is disease resistance, my tomatoes start fading in early July and are gone by the end of the month. I don’t really care about productivity, just staying alive. I guess you didn’t see any benefit there either?

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A tray of DRO141TX I plan to graft tonight to a variety of heirlooms. I hope I have enough clips left from last year, I forgot to dig them out and check what’s left.

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Nope, no benefit from either rootstock. Which I interpret as these rootstocks not being resistent to whatever my particular issues are (leaves dying off from the ground up starting in mid-summer resulting in weak plants with reduced yield). One year of testing with just a few plants is clearly not enough to make any real conclusions so take my results with a grain of salt. They obviously work well for some people in some situations.

Wow those plants are huge. I grafted much, much earlier than that. None of my clips would even fit on plants that size.

You made me nervous so I had to go check, although I was sure they were okay. I think it is the angle of the photo. Here is a 2mm silicon clip on one which is what I use. I graft them higher than they recommend, since the first year I grafted (below the cotyledons as recommended) we had a lot of rain and splashing mud and I had a lot of scions trying to send out roots which I kept clipping off. Last year I grafted about a 1/2" above the cotyledons and it made a huge difference. The downside is you have to keep an eye out for the rootstock sending up shoots since it still has the active buds where the cotyledons were.

I’ve grafted for 3 or 4 years now, the first year doing a test with growing 5 heirloom types in what was a somewhat controlled test. I planted 3 of each variety of the heirlooms, growing one on its own roots, one on Maxifort, and one on RST-04-106-T. By frost, all of the ones on their own roots were dead, while I don’t think I lost any of the grafted ones, possibly just one, although I can’t remember for sure. The rootstocks don’t give you immunity to foliar diseases, but they do give you more vigor, depending on the rootstock, and general plant health due to the robust and efficient root systems they develop. So with good fertilizing and watering, I’m able to keep them powering through the diseases for the most part, but if I get lax and the plants aren’t getting enough water or are in need of fertilizing they can still go down. That said, I am also growing my plants as single stems which dramatically increases the airflow around them and allows me to get all the growth up away from the ground fairly quickly.

The other advantage I’ve found, particularly with the more vigorous rootstocks like Maxifort and DRO141TX is that they are able to feed the fruit better over the course of the season so I’m still getting big tomatoes at the end of the year. Without the grafting, I’d generally see smaller tomatoes as the season went on.

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I just grafted a couple more rootstocks which were slow growers. I am using an unusual “clip” and maybe someone else wants to try it so I thought I would post a picture.

This is just beeswax. I use beeswax in lots of home-brew projects, along with duct tape and super glue it is a handy thing to know how to use. I took a ball and warmed in my hands for awhile then rolled it flat like a pizza crust. Then fold into a U and when the graft is ready wrap it around and pinch. I like how I can make it airtight on all sides since it is a soft wax. For only a couple grafts it works great.

Here is one of the successes from a couple weeks ago:

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That’s a neat idea Scott.

My plan of doing mine a few nights back didn’t work out, but I did some earlier this evening and will finish the rest tonight. I did a video to show the way I’ve been grafting my tomatoes.

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Lookin’ good! That wedge looks easier than the clefts I have been doing.

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I think it is the easiest type of grafting I do. Two quick splice cuts, then the clip basically aligns them for you and you just put a little downward pressure to make sure the surfaces are tight together as you let the clip tighten.