Vegetable Grafting Symposium Gathers Industry, Leading Researchers

Tomato plants are grafted at Ohio State as part of an ongoing research project on this technique.
  • National meeting will take place Jan. 8 in Savannah, Georgia

WOOSTER, Ohio — University, government and industry experts will come together to share the latest research findings and techniques on a method whose popularity is rapidly growing and showing promise among U.S. vegetable growers: grafting.

The Third National Vegetable Grafting Symposium, “Growing New Roots for the Vegetable Industry in the U.S.,” will take place Jan. 8 at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center in Savannah, Georgia. It will be held in conjunction with the Southeast Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference, which runs from Jan. 8-11.

Registration is open online at PAT and CCA continuing education credits will be available.

“Grafting is a proven tool for enhancing long-term profit potential. Seedling producers and vegetable growers can benefit by making, selling and using grafted plants. Still, there are questions about how to get the greatest return on investment from grafted plants,” said Matthew Kleinhenz, a professor in the Department of Horticulture and Crop Science in Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, who will be presenting at the symposium.

“Seedling and vegetable growers, members of the seed and variety development industry and researchers will share answers to these questions at the symposium. Participants will also update plans for follow-up research and education on grafting.”

The symposium is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through its Specialty Crops Research Initiative (SCRI).

The SCRI award supports a multi-institution research team focused on enhancing the success of the U.S. vegetable industry, partly through using grafted plants more effectively. The team includes Clemson University, North Carolina State University, The University of Florida, Ohio State, Kansas State University, the University of Arizona, Washington State University and USDA’s Horticultural Research Laboratory in Fort Pierce, Florida.

Grafting is a propagation method where the tissues of two plants are fused together. It combines the superior root system of a non-fruiting rootstock variety with the shoot of a good fruiting variety, called the scion. Grafting is seen as a viable technique to reduce pest and disease pressures while preserving the productivity of currently used vegetable varieties.  

Vegetable grafting is popular among farmers in Europe and Asia for crops such as melon, tomato and pepper. Still, fewer growers in the U.S. currently use grafted plants as part of integrated crop management strategies that can improve plant growth, control diseases, boost tolerance to temperature and increase nutrient uptake.

Topics to be covered at the symposium include propagation technology developments, research on tomato and cucurbit grafting methods, industry rootstock trials, the performance of grafted plants under many conditions, and rootstock breeding and marketing. Growers will also speak about their successes and challenges in using grafted plants in both large-scale field production and high-tunnel production.

The program is being in held Savannah partly because it is near major centers of production. The Southeast vegetable industry is large, progressive and actively looking for ways to solve production problems with minimum impact on the environment, program organizers said.

Maximizing production while minimizing threats due to nematodes and soilborne diseases and damage to the environment is important to the industry, organizers said. Also, profit must be squeezed from every acre every year no matter the growing conditions.

"Grafted plants can outperform ungrafted plants in many situations. However, like every tool, grafted plants must be used properly. The symposium is an opportunity for seedling and vegetable growers to learn how to make and use grafted plants more effectively," said Kleinhenz, a vegetable crops specialist with OSU Extension, the outreach arm of the college.

A full schedule with speakers and topics is available at

For more information, contact Kleinhenz at or 330-263-3810.


CFAES News Team
For more information, contact: 

Matt Kleinhenz