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The pros and cons of cucurbit grafting in the United States.
R. L. HASSELL (1). (1) Clemson University CREC, Charleston, SC, U.S.A.

From its research beginnings in the 1920’s, cucurbit grafting in Asia has now become the predominantly practiced growing method; currently 95% of watermelon and oriental melon are grafted in Japan, Korea and Taiwan. As a result of the phase-out or reduction of soil fumigants, especially methyl bromide, grafting has only recently been considered as a practice for cucurbit growing in the United States. Grafting presents a promising option for soil-borne pathogen control with such diseases as Fusarium wilt, Monosporascus vine decline, Phytophthora blight and root knot nematode. However, grafting enhances tolerance to abiotic stress, increases water and nutrient use efficiency, extends harvest periods, and improves fruit yield and quality in certain cucurbits. These appealing advantages, as well as the grafting successes in Asia and Europe, make cucurbit grafting an important topic of study in the United States. The problems associated with grafting in the United States centers around economics, namely, the cost of producing the grafted transplant. These costs include added facility and supply costs and increased labor demands. Added facility and supply costs stem from the need for space to grow twice as many seedlings per grafted plant as well as provide a controlled environment for graft healing. Finally, grafting requires an increase in labor, not only in the skill required to produce grafted transplants, but the increased costs under our standards and the availability of such labor. In order for grafting to be successful in the United States these costs need to be taken seriously and research conducted to reduce these costs. Current research involves mechanization, as well as new and more efficient methods. Cucurbit grafting is a promising process; requiring study to create both understanding and innovation that will allow the United States to use this tool to enhance the opportunities afforded the grower.<p><p>Keywords:

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