Two UC Cooperative Extension advisors are conducting field research to determine whether grafting tasty tomato plants onto high-performing root stock will increase yield and disease resistance while improving tomato flavor, reported Ezra David Romero on Valley Public Radio.
Romero spoke to Scott Stoddard, the UCCE vegetable crops advisor for Madera and Merced counties, and Margaret Lloyd, the UCCE small farms advisor for Yolo, Solano and Sacramento counties.
Stoddard has planted 3,500 grafted tomato seedlings on a farm north of Madera.
“Now we got them in the field and so approximately 83 days from now, if all goes according to plan, we will be harvesting out here and we will see if we can see some yield differences,” Stoddard said.
Lloyd grafted heirloom tomato varieties onto disease-resistant roots on a quarter acre at UC Davis.
“We’re kind of working at this level of finding non-chemical management tools that will help overcome these challenges so they [farmers] can continue to grow these nice heirloom varieties,” says Lloyd.
Both scientists will collect data from their trails to see whether it makes sense for growers to implement the practice on their farms. Romero reported that both agreed consumers could, in time, have a tastier, larger assortment of tomatoes to purchase at farmers markets and stores.