What You Need To Know About Melon Grafting

Merging Melons

Grafting has become a routine technique in continuous cropping systems in many parts of the world. It was first introduced in Korea and Japan during the late 1920s by grafting watermelon onto bottle gourd rootstocks to address the problems of declining yield due to soilborne disease in plants.

It is estimated that more than half of the world’s watermelons and cucumbers are produced in China and more than 90% of these are grafted. Use of rootstocks can enhance plant vigor through attaining soil nutrients, avoiding soil pathogens, and tolerating low soil temperatures, salinity, and wet-soil conditions.

The type of rootstock used has been shown to affect cucurbit plant growth, yield, and fruit quality. Cucurbit grafting is rare in the U.S., but with quality farmland becoming scarcer, and since the phaseout of methyl bromide, the U.S. cucurbit industry is looking at grafting as a viable option. In fact, some seed companies now offer watermelon transplants grafted onto squash or bottle gourd rootstocks.

Examining The Plant

In 2007 and 2008, four southern states joined forces to examine grafted watermelon plants. Two commercial cultivars and seven different rootstocks were grafted on each of these cultivars at each location.

Yields and quality were assessed. The results saw no difference in yields or fruit shape and size of melons produced. In addition, there were no differences in sugar levels and internal defects. However, there were differences in flesh firmness. All grafted plants produced firmer flesh. There also were differences in rootstocks.

In particular, the squash rootstock was found to be the firmest, followed by the gourd rootstock. Growers typically are interested in the firmer flesh because it lasts longer and doesn’t decay in the field. The fresh-cut industry also is interested in the firmest fruit because it has less juice. Processors don’t want juice to accumulate in the bottom of fruit containers.

Grafting Procedures

One big factor in producing a grafted transplant is the labor cost. At present, the price tag on such a transplant is about $1. This is in comparison to 25¢ for a non-grafted transplant. Various grafting methods and procedures have been developed to reduce those costs and transplant growers must choose which method produces the highest quality transplants at the lowest price for their operation.

Grafting methods vary considerably with the crops being grown, rootstock material selected, and scion material chosen. Just as important a consideration is the growth stage needed for both the rootstock and scion material needed for the graft to be successful.

For example, the grafting method called “hole insertion graft” would be convenient for watermelons because of their small seedling size compared to the size of the rootstock seedling. This method, however, only works with the gourd rootstock. Four methods have been evaluated: approach graft, hole insertion graft, one cotyledon graft, and hypocotyl graft.

Each graft requires different materials as well as different procedures in order for it to be successful. Just as important as the grafting procedure is the post-grafting care. Growers must place their grafted plants into a healing chamber. They must remember to maintain the grafted plants at 77°F and 100% humidity in the chamber for five to seven days prior to moving them into the greenhouse.

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7 comments on “What You Need To Know About Melon Grafting

  1. Dear Sir.
    Hello
    I am Dr. Melad Helmy Zaky from Arab Republic of Egypt- Africa.
    I’m currently working a Director of protected cultivation at Agriculture Research Center (A.R.C.) in Egypt.
    I am currently established a major project of grafting seedlings of watermelon and cantaloupe, cucumbers and tomatoes on resistance rootstock to Fusarium wilt, Verticillium wilt, Monosporascus sudden wilt, Bacterial wilt , root-knot nematode, downy mildew disease, low and high temperature tolerance and soil salinity.
    So this project required an integrated system of vegetables grafting technique contains the following equipment as the following:
    1 – Modern nursery greenhouse (24 x 40 m) with fully equipped with modern facilities, especially modern benches and mist irrigation over the trays and control the temperature (heating and cooling) devices and increase relative humidity, and electric heaters to warm the roots of seedlings and their means of lighting control and shading device for evaporation and sulfur resistance to insects and diseases.
    2 – Greenhouse for grafting seedlings containing semi and fully-automated grafting robots for grafted watermelon and cantaloupe, cucumbers and tomatoes seedlings and equipped with the special needs of clips and trays that enough to the needs of the previous greenhouse nursery and equipped with modern facilities, especially modern benches and mist irrigation.
    3 – Modern greenhouse containing a modern healing and acclimatization chamber and equipped with means of control the humidity, temperature and measuring devices for that (automatically) and the means of modern mist irrigation.
    4 – Rootstock used to grafted seedlings of watermelon and cantaloupe, cucumbers, tomatoes for the previous characters.
    So I hope to send all data, pictures and the prices of these items and explain the shipping costs and Installation costs.
    I hope also if you have any complete systems of vegetables grafting seedlings please send it for me with the pictures.
    I also need to know the cost of training from 3 – 5 members on this grafting system for 15 days on your country.
    I hope that take-request to the keen interest of you as I intend to send a reply to the Agricultural Research Center for several days. I think also that this project will be existence of other similar projects in many parts of Egypt.
    With best wishes for the progress
    Dr. melad.
    [email protected]

    1. My name is Paraskevas and I work as an agronomist in a vegetable nursery in Greece
      recently we have established a healing chamber with no light at all, an we are providing artificial light by common fluorescent lamps.
      Soon after the plants are placed to the greenhouse they begin to collapse almost 100%
      can you help me givin your aspect assuming what is getting wrong with the procedure ?
      thank you

  2. dear Dr.
    im from Egypt
    my Ph.D thesis were about effect of grafting on yield and its components of watermelon
    by using 2 hybrids of watermelon ,7 rootstocks and 2 grafting methods tongue or hole inseration

  3. Dear Sir.
    Hello
    I am Dr. Melad Helmy Zaky from Arab Republic of Egypt- Africa.
    I’m currently working a Director of protected cultivation at Agriculture Research Center (A.R.C.) in Egypt.
    I am currently established a major project of grafting seedlings of watermelon and cantaloupe, cucumbers and tomatoes on resistance rootstock to Fusarium wilt, Verticillium wilt, Monosporascus sudden wilt, Bacterial wilt , root-knot nematode, downy mildew disease, low and high temperature tolerance and soil salinity.
    So this project required an integrated system of vegetables grafting technique contains the following equipment as the following:
    1 – Modern nursery greenhouse (24 x 40 m) with fully equipped with modern facilities, especially modern benches and mist irrigation over the trays and control the temperature (heating and cooling) devices and increase relative humidity, and electric heaters to warm the roots of seedlings and their means of lighting control and shading device for evaporation and sulfur resistance to insects and diseases.
    2 – Greenhouse for grafting seedlings containing semi and fully-automated grafting robots for grafted watermelon and cantaloupe, cucumbers and tomatoes seedlings and equipped with the special needs of clips and trays that enough to the needs of the previous greenhouse nursery and equipped with modern facilities, especially modern benches and mist irrigation.
    3 – Modern greenhouse containing a modern healing and acclimatization chamber and equipped with means of control the humidity, temperature and measuring devices for that (automatically) and the means of modern mist irrigation.
    4 – Rootstock used to grafted seedlings of watermelon and cantaloupe, cucumbers, tomatoes for the previous characters.
    So I hope to send all data, pictures and the prices of these items and explain the shipping costs and Installation costs.
    I hope also if you have any complete systems of vegetables grafting seedlings please send it for me with the pictures.
    I also need to know the cost of training from 3 – 5 members on this grafting system for 15 days on your country.
    I hope that take-request to the keen interest of you as I intend to send a reply to the Agricultural Research Center for several days. I think also that this project will be existence of other similar projects in many parts of Egypt.
    With best wishes for the progress
    Dr. melad.
    [email protected]

  4. dear Dr.
    im from Egypt
    my Ph.D thesis were about effect of grafting on yield and its components of watermelon
    by using 2 hybrids of watermelon ,7 rootstocks and 2 grafting methods tongue or hole inseration

  5. Question; Would it be wise to plant the rootstock later then the melon so the stems are about the same size at grafting time?

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