Researchers are studying whether grafting in watermelon crops can be used as a tool to manage fusarium wilt.

The primary technique for managing fusarium wilt in watermelon fields in the past has been crop rotation, but it’s not always a solution that works. Two researchers are working to find out if grafting could be a successful method for growers to add to the toolbox, according to a Vegetable and Specialty Crop News article. See details of the research below.

Grafting to Deal With Fusarium Wilt

Researchers with the University of Florida, Nicholas Dufault, an assistant professor and plant pathologist for vegetable and agronomic crops, and Xin Zhao, an associate professor, are studying whether grafting a susceptible cultivar onto a resistant rootstock will allow the resulting watermelon plant to also be resistant to fusarium wilt while maintaining the taste and other desirable qualities wanted by consumers.

In the study, watermelon cultivars are being grafted onto resistant melon stock. A Florida Specialty Crop Block Grant makes the research possible.

One drawback that researchers see is that grafting is an expensive process. The article reported the researchers are working with economists to conduct cost-benefit analysis for growers, as well as ways to improve the efficiency of the grafting process.

Additionally, grafting might also hold benefits for fixing other issues, such as environmental stress conditions. For example, watermelons are susceptible to low temperatures, and grafting may offer a solution.

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