I feel like I accomplished a pretty good initial evaluation of using Rootstocks for tomatoes in my hot/humid 7A and more specifically using Maxifort and RST-04-106-T with 5 different heirloom types - Opalka, Cherokee Green, Black from Tula, Stump of the World and a beefsteak I keep that came up as a chance seedling from Prudens Purple one year… I planted 3 of each of the 5 different varieties with one on its own root, one on Maxifort and one on RST-04-106-T - total of 15 plants. The only one I didn’t have with both types of rootstocks was Stump of the world where my Maxifort graft didn’t make it, so that one had own root, plus 2 on RST-04-106-T. They were all grown as a single stem, and the few extra Maxiforts grafts I wound up with were just put in cages, which they quickly overwhelmed as they developed into monster plants.
All of my grafted tomatoes survived the season, while 3 of the 5 non-grafted were dead from one disease or another by mid-August. So just on survival alone it is well worth doing for me and I expect to only plant grafted tomatoes from now on. Outside of the grafting test, I grew some other heirloom types as single stem which also survived pretty well, so I think that approach seems to help a lot with keeping good airflow around the plants, plus taking off lower leaves as they grow helps keep all foliage higher off the ground vs. a more sprawling multi-stem. I think my grafted plants were more productive as well, although that may just be because they were healthier.
I did notice later fruiting with Maxifort, particularly for some of the larger fruiting beefsteak types. I think if you’re growing them undercover with a really long season and just keep lowering the vines, the vigor and strength of Maxifort is probably worth it, but for growing out in the open, I’d prefer they start fruiting earlier. With the few extra Maxifort grafts I wound up with and just let grow, they got huge by the end of the season. I did notice that Maxifort kept the tomatoes coming in large, whereas the RST-04-106-T and own root plants had some smaller fruit later in the season. Based on the 2 I tried, I will go with RST-04-106-T for most of my plants, maybe trying a few Maxifort with some smaller growing types like Lucky Tiger to see if it beefs up the plants and gives me more total production.
One disappointment is that I was hoping the rootstocks would help out with blossom end rot that I always get on some of my Opalkas which are notoriously susceptible. Unfortunately I still had some BER and it was about the same percentage on each of the grafted tomatoes and on its own root. So I guess a vigorous rootstock like Maxifort doesn’t fix whatever the weekness is with Opalka. Oh well.
@PatapscoMike, sorry to hear that you didn’t have good luck with your grafts. I was looking forward to hearing how the DRO141TX grafts grew and produced, since that sounds like a promising alternative to Maxifort and I’d love to see how they do around here. I may look around to see if I can find a reasonable size packet to give them a try this year, but I don’t think I’ll spring for a packet of 50, which is the smallest Johnny’s sells.
Anyone else use DRO141TX, RST-04-106-T or any of the others besides Maxifort and see some interesting results? There are just so many different types of rootstock to try and it is hard to know which might be worth trying.