MOUNT VERNON, Wash. – A team of Washington State University vegetable horticulture researchers travels to China next month to present their research findings as part of a global effort to increase environmentally friendly vegetable production through grafting. Their efforts may stimulate a new market for vegetable production in Western Washington.
WSU Mount Vernon’s Vegetable Horticulture Program Leader Carol Miles and graduate student Jesse Wimer will give presentations in Wuhan, China, at the International Symposium on Vegetable Grafting, sponsored March 17-21 by the International Society for Horticultural Science.
Miles and Wimer are among the 200 guests — including researchers, company managers, and growers — who were invited to this inaugural event being held at Huazhong Agricultural University to promote communication and cooperation among vegetable grafting professionals around the world.
“Attending this symposium gives us the opportunity to share our Washington results with the international vegetable grafting science community and to learn from scientists and professionals where vegetable grafting has been practiced for decades,” said Miles, who is a faculty member at the WSU Mount Vernon Northwestern Washington Research and Extension Center and also serves as advisor to Wimer, an M.S. student in the vegetable horticulture program there.
The theme of this inaugural symposium is environmental friendly production of vegetables via grafting, and the five-day event includes such topics as grafted seedling production, rootstock breeding, grafting and stresses, rootstock soil interactions, and rootstock-mediated effects on yield and fruit quality.
Miles will present her paper on “Grafting eggplant and tomato for Verticillium wilt resistance.” Wimer will present his poster, titled “Evaluation of watermelon rootstocks for resistance to Verticillium wild in northwestern Washington, U.S.”
Verticillium wilt is a fungal disease that attacks a host of more than 200 species of vegetables, fruit trees, flowers, field crops and shade or forest trees. It infects the roots of a plant, reducing the quality and quantity of a crop by causing discoloration in tissues, stunting, and premature defoliation and death. Once an infected plant has died, Verticillium wilt remains in the soil, gaining in strength to invade new plantings.
Research shows that field fumigation treatments can help control Verticillium wilt, but even with these chemical treatments crop losses can still be up to 50%. Researchers like Miles and Wimer are looking for more ecologically viable alternatives to control this pervasive plant disease. Their research findings may help vegetable producers worldwide develop rootstocks for grafting vegetables that are resistant to this devastating disease.
“If vegetable grafting provides adequate control against soil-borne diseases in the United States as it has done elsewhere in the world (95% of Japan’s commercial watermelon production uses grafted plants), there is an opportunity to replace soil fumigation,” Miles said. “This result would provide Washington growers with an environmentally sustainable vegetable production option, as well as open the door for a new industry – the production of grafted transplants.”
According to Miles, the Pacific Northwest may be the perfect starting point. “Western Washington has a highly suitable climate for grafted transplant production,” she said, “and this has the potential to be a new emerging industry in our region.”
More information about the symposium is available at http://www.grafting2014.com/English/message.aspx?parentid=0&typeid=308&act=all .
Carol Miles, Vegetable Horticulture program leader, WSU Mount Vernon NWREC, office: 360-848-6150; cell: 360-610-0942, email@example.com
Jesse Wimer, M.S. student, Vegetable Horticulture program, WSU Mount Vernon NWREC, 208-596-9721, firstname.lastname@example.org