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Old May 6, 2018   #31
tvoneicken
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Bill, have you tried supernatural? We also found maxifort and estamino to be too vegetative and produce huge plants with too few fruit. Supernatural seems better.

I use the "old style" top-grafting technique and this year things have gone well. The first batch of ~30 grafties turned into ~20 plants that are just going into the ground now (Santa Barbara mountains). That's as much as we have space for and need for. Well, we also planted 8 Celebrities, which have decent resistance to the root knot nematodes that plague most heirlooms here. They're not as tasty for eating fresh but produce lots of great tomato puree (gets frozen and used for cooking).

In terms of grafting size I also find that almost anything can be made to work. I obviously try to match, but sometimes one has to be creative cutting high or cutting low. When I have too spindly a scion I also vary the cut angle. For example, cut the rootstock at 45 degrees and cut the scion at ~70 degrees such that the cut surface area on the scion is about the same size as the cut area on the rootstock, then push it all nicely together in the clip. Works best at high cut angles (very slanted cuts).

With supernatural we end up seeding rootstock and scions at the same time, seems to work out OK. Given the price difference between rootstock and scion seeds we sometimes start some scions a few days early, then more at the same time, then more a few days later. But even if all are seeded at the same time as long as I have 2x the number of scions as rootstock it seems I can make some form of match.

I haven't tried the DE stuff and grow everything in soil blocks. Had a disaster there for the past couple of years trying out coco choir. We'd get seedlings that germinate and grow a bit and then just stall out and look generally unhappy, despite adding liquid fertilizer. Our conclusion is that most likely we were having salinity issues. So this year it has been back to peat moss + pumice + compost. What a difference, the plants just leap out of the blocks!

This year's failure (is there a year where something doesn't fail?) has been to use our own worm compost. We put one seed into each block and 4-5 little plants came up! Obviously seed that was in the compost... The good news is that it's our compost so we know we like the varieties, but still, that's not what we're working for! The second batch used quality store bought potting soil instead of compost and while we didn't have the problem with extra seeds germinating the plants didn't do quite as well. We then bought some compost but we ended up with enough plants already.

One minor issue we struggled with for a while is labeling. Because of using soil blocks it's not very practical to stick a label into the soil. We now get needles with colorful heads and color-code each block by pushing one or multiple needles into the soil block. That seems to work and the needles are reusable after some washing and drying, although they do end up rusting eventually.

I think next year I'm going to try what Delerium showed, which is grafting onto leaves in order to try and make the whole healing thing easier. I have to go back and re-read some of those threads. The whole healing chamber thing is the most nerve wrecking and difficult part in the whole grafting process.
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Old May 6, 2018   #32
b54red
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Bill, have you tried supernatural? We also found maxifort and estamino to be too vegetative and produce huge plants with too few fruit. Supernatural seems better.

I use the "old style" top-grafting technique and this year things have gone well. The first batch of ~30 grafties turned into ~20 plants that are just going into the ground now (Santa Barbara mountains). That's as much as we have space for and need for. Well, we also planted 8 Celebrities, which have decent resistance to the root knot nematodes that plague most heirlooms here. They're not as tasty for eating fresh but produce lots of great tomato puree (gets frozen and used for cooking).

In terms of grafting size I also find that almost anything can be made to work. I obviously try to match, but sometimes one has to be creative cutting high or cutting low. When I have too spindly a scion I also vary the cut angle. For example, cut the rootstock at 45 degrees and cut the scion at ~70 degrees such that the cut surface area on the scion is about the same size as the cut area on the rootstock, then push it all nicely together in the clip. Works best at high cut angles (very slanted cuts).

With supernatural we end up seeding rootstock and scions at the same time, seems to work out OK. Given the price difference between rootstock and scion seeds we sometimes start some scions a few days early, then more at the same time, then more a few days later. But even if all are seeded at the same time as long as I have 2x the number of scions as rootstock it seems I can make some form of match.

I haven't tried the DE stuff and grow everything in soil blocks. Had a disaster there for the past couple of years trying out coco choir. We'd get seedlings that germinate and grow a bit and then just stall out and look generally unhappy, despite adding liquid fertilizer. Our conclusion is that most likely we were having salinity issues. So this year it has been back to peat moss + pumice + compost. What a difference, the plants just leap out of the blocks!

This year's failure (is there a year where something doesn't fail?) has been to use our own worm compost. We put one seed into each block and 4-5 little plants came up! Obviously seed that was in the compost... The good news is that it's our compost so we know we like the varieties, but still, that's not what we're working for! The second batch used quality store bought potting soil instead of compost and while we didn't have the problem with extra seeds germinating the plants didn't do quite as well. We then bought some compost but we ended up with enough plants already.

One minor issue we struggled with for a while is labeling. Because of using soil blocks it's not very practical to stick a label into the soil. We now get needles with colorful heads and color-code each block by pushing one or multiple needles into the soil block. That seems to work and the needles are reusable after some washing and drying, although they do end up rusting eventually.

I think next year I'm going to try what Delerium showed, which is grafting onto leaves in order to try and make the whole healing thing easier. I have to go back and re-read some of those threads. The whole healing chamber thing is the most nerve wrecking and difficult part in the whole grafting process.
My success rate was phenomenal when I was using new seedlings. The big problems started when I switched to grafting onto the suckers that had rooted from the earlier grafting. It wasn't so much a size issue because I was able to match most of them up pretty well. I think rather it was more of an issue with the older tougher root stock suckers not bonding with the new seedlings which were nice and tender. Maybe if I could have kept them in the chambers longer but with the damping off problems now that it is hotter what I didn't lose to the graft not taking I lost to damping off on the stem even when I applied some Captan to the stem. I went from 100% to just under 20% success ratio. I feel like for higher success rates this time of the year I will just have to plant more root stock seeds to match my scion seeds.

I am very happy with the RST-04-106-T root stock other than the name. I have had phenomenal results with the grafted plants with the added benefit of resistance to Bacterial Wilt which can be a heart breaker. With TSWV, TYLCV, EB, LB, Gray Mold, spider mites, RKN, 3 races of fusarium wilt, stink bugs, worms it is great to find a root stock that alleviates 3 different problems which are all big problems down here. Another thing is that NE Seeds offers their root stock seed in quantities that are more affordable than most other companies. I buy in lots of 500 seed and end up paying slightly more than a nickel a seed and that gives me enough for over two years of grafting even with a lot of failures. Of course if I drop trying to root the tops of the root stock seedling I will need to use more seed.

Bill
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Old June 4, 2018   #33
zendog
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This is my first year grafting tomatoes. We have a lot of disease pressure every year (Arlington VA, 7A) and I lose many plants each year so I'm hoping the rootstocks will help.

I'm testing grafted plants of Opalka, Black from Tula, Green Cherokee, Stump of the World and another beefstake type that arrived as a chance seedling and I've kept going ever since. Each is being grown on their own roots for one plant as a control plus one on Maxifort and one on RST-04-106. It would be better to have a couple of each for a better sample size on each combination, but room is limited.

Since I decided to graft I wound up running a few weeks behind my regular schedule but things are growing well now. I'm going to grow them all as single stems, so I'll be doing a lot of prunning.

Besides figuring out if this helps production and survival, I'm curious whether growing Opalka on different rootstocks will have any effect on the BER that always plagues that variety in my garden. Has anyone seen any effect of rootstocks on BER? If it is an uptake issue or moisture issue, I'm hoping the stronger rootstock might help solve it or at least reduce it.

When grafting, I crammed mine all into a single tray with chopsticks stuck in the cells and light plastic over it as my sad little healing chamber. I had about 90% success, which was pleasantly surprising. So far my biggest issue was rooting from the scions, which I'm sure was exacerbated by my misting the plants, not the chamber, and water sitting on the stems inside the clips. Everything was started at the same time, so they are grafted a bit low and I have to keep an eye on them that they don't root into the soil from the scions and ruin the effort to graft them. Next year, if this proves worthwhile, I'll plant the rootstocks a week early to make sure they're thick enough to let me graft the scions on higher.
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Old October 27, 2018   #34
Father'sDaughter
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Now that all but two end of the year greenies have ripened indoors, I have my final stats for this year. Grafting has been a real game-changer!

If I don't count my very first year (2012) when my beds were first built and filled with purchased compost, this was my best year ever. I harvested more tomatoes from 20 plants than I did in year two (2013) from 34 plants. I had many varieties producing six-plus pounds per plant, with one Gregori's Altai pumping out over ten pounds.

My last pre-grafting year (2016), I was barely getting two pounds per plant, and eight plants went down to disease before producing a single tomato.

The best part is that I'm now revisiting varieties I had scratched off due to low production. They're doing great now as grafted plants. And I'm still happy with my chosen rootstock (now let's hope it's not discontinued...).

Thank you Bill and everyone else who has contributed to these annual grafting threads!
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Old October 28, 2018   #35
jtjmartin
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Hey All - A grafting update from southeast Virginia

Bacterial Wilt:
All but one or two of my grafted plants thrived and survived - many producing vines well over 20 feet long use single stem lean and lower. The couple that I had to pull early had that same stunted curled leaf look of herbicide damage or one of the myriad of diseases.

I extended my garden into some virgin land and hoped non-grafted tomatoes would grow there for at least a year or so. That was a no-go. Bacterial wilt even took out the hybrids like Brandy Boy just as they were producing. The BW is very hit and miss - a few non-grafted plants had a fairly long, productive year.

Grafting onto re-rooted RST-04-106:
As Bill observed above (thank you Bill for all your help & guidance) I had a very low success rate and noticed the difference in how fibrous the re-rooted tops were. I won't try this again unless forced to by lack of RST seed.

Zendog:
Hope to get an update from you on how your grafting is going. I'm in Arlington every other month or so on business. Pretty area.

Father's Daughter:
Grafting is a game-changer like you said! I grew a couple varieties that others said had great taste but were too susceptible to disease. Grafting worked! - great taste/little disease.

For next year, I just finished another 60 feet of hugel beds to grow tomatoes on. I'm planning on buying some bigger healing boxes and grafting more tomatoes at the same time rather than trying smaller batches.

Jeff
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Old October 29, 2018   #36
b54red
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Originally Posted by jtjmartin View Post
Hey All - A grafting update from southeast Virginia

Bacterial Wilt:
All but one or two of my grafted plants thrived and survived - many producing vines well over 20 feet long use single stem lean and lower. The couple that I had to pull early had that same stunted curled leaf look of herbicide damage or one of the myriad of diseases.

I extended my garden into some virgin land and hoped non-grafted tomatoes would grow there for at least a year or so. That was a no-go. Bacterial wilt even took out the hybrids like Brandy Boy just as they were producing. The BW is very hit and miss - a few non-grafted plants had a fairly long, productive year.

Grafting onto re-rooted RST-04-106:
As Bill observed above (thank you Bill for all your help & guidance) I had a very low success rate and noticed the difference in how fibrous the re-rooted tops were. I won't try this again unless forced to by lack of RST seed.

Zendog:
Hope to get an update from you on how your grafting is going. I'm in Arlington every other month or so on business. Pretty area.

Father's Daughter:
Grafting is a game-changer like you said! I grew a couple varieties that others said had great taste but were too susceptible to disease. Grafting worked! - great taste/little disease.

For next year, I just finished another 60 feet of hugel beds to grow tomatoes on. I'm planning on buying some bigger healing boxes and grafting more tomatoes at the same time rather than trying smaller batches.

Jeff
Great to hear Jeff. As I have said in another thread or two this has been my most successful year ever with tomatoes as well as some other crops like bell peppers, cucumbers and okra. Despite getting the edge of the eye wall from Michael many of my tomatoes though messed up from the winds are still producing. I am now removing most of my older vines even though they have tomatoes on them because I would like to get some beds ready for winter planting of things like lettuce and spinach. I am so far behind on cool weather crops due to the very late hot weather and the hurricane that most of what I plant til spring will be over wintering crops and their success will depend on just how cold it gets this year.

Last time I looked the RST-04-106-T was still unavailable. I hope they will be available again next year because the success rate I have had with them is better than any other root stock I have used. I also worry that grafting will be even more of a problem this year as my arthritis in my hands has gotten far worse and it really affects my ability to do any delicate work like that.

My plan is to plant even fewer plants than last year since just the wife and I can't use the huge amounts of tomatoes that we made this past year. Of course those plans are subject to change.

Bill
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Old December 24, 2018   #37
beetkvass
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b54red, do you mind sharing what tomato varieties you've successfully grown with the RST-04-106-T root stock? I'm hoping to try actually grafting this year but really would love to know what grows well on them. My husband and kids aren't too picky. And i think our weather is similar in GA to AL. Thanks!
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Old December 31, 2018   #38
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Zendog:
Hope to get an update from you on how your grafting is going. I'm in Arlington every other month or so on business. Pretty area.
Hi,
I haven't been on the site much and didn't see this earlier, but I would say the grafting was very successful and I'll do it again this year. All of my grafted tomatoes survived the entire season, even though about half of my ungrafted tomatoes succumbed to some malady or another. I grew them all as single stems and I think that style helped as well, given better air flow and the fact that as diseased leaves showed up and were pulled it left the healthy tops away from any disease or splashing from the rain.

Maxifort was good, but probably put too much energy into vegetative growth and delayed fruiting on some types. RST-04-106-T seemed to work on everything I tried it on and I'll definitely be using that again. Maxifort would be great for growing under cover where you'd have a longer season, since it kept pumping out big fruit right up to frost whereas I noticed the fruit getting smaller on my ungrafted and RST-04-106-T grafted plants. I might try Maxifort on Lucky Tiger and Druzba, which i find less vigorous and might benefit from the added umph.

I'm interested to hear if anyone has tried DRO141TX, which I see is listed at Johnny's. It seems like it might be a good alternative to Maxifort and worth trialing against RST-04-106-T. I just wish I could find a place to buy a smaller pack than the 50 which is the smallest at Johnny's.

My one disappointment was that I was hoping the grafting might reduce the BER on Opalka. But I seemed to have the same amount of BER on the Maxifort and RST-04-106-T and the ungrafted plant I grew. Oh well, can't have everything.
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Old January 1, 2019   #39
jtjmartin
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Zendog:

I'm with you on grafting though in my area of Virginia about 80% of my ungrafted plants get hit with bacterial wilt.


I usually get my RST-04-106 seeds from NE Seed but they are still listed as out of stock. I order some -105 as back up. Since DR0 doesn't slow down BW I've never tried.


Jeff
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Old January 1, 2019   #40
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Zendog:

I'm with you on grafting though in my area of Virginia about 80% of my ungrafted plants get hit with bacterial wilt.


I usually get my RST-04-106 seeds from NE Seed but they are still listed as out of stock. I order some -105 as back up. Since DR0 doesn't slow down BW I've never tried.

Jeff
I didn't see any bacterial wilt on my maxifort grafted plants which I think should be vulnerable, but it may have taken out one of the ungrafted ones and it is fairly prevalent in the community garden where I have my tomatoes. So I guess DR0 may be risky and i should probably stick with 106.

If you are still looking for it, I bought some a few days ago from Tomato Growers Supply and I think they still show stock.
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Old January 1, 2019   #41
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If Bacterial Wilt is not one of your problems, I highly recommend the DRO141TX. It's a very "neutral" rootstock in that it doesn't seem to alter plant growth habit. I'm actually going to try some released Dwarf varieties grafted onto it just to see what they do.
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Old January 1, 2019   #42
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b54red, do you mind sharing what tomato varieties you've successfully grown with the RST-04-106-T root stock? I'm hoping to try actually grafting this year but really would love to know what grows well on them. My husband and kids aren't too picky. And i think our weather is similar in GA to AL. Thanks!
I now grow only for taste so some varieties that will do spectacularly with the RST-04-106 root stock son't get a try from me. I have narrowed my list of varieties that I grow down every year for the past six or seven years. I have eliminated what I perceive as bland or mushy tasting tomatoes since I don't care to eat them when I can instead have juicy, well balanced tomatoes. My favorites are Brandywine Sudduth's, Brandywine Cowlick's, Dester, ISPL, Gary O' Sena, 1884, Kentucky Wonder, Arkansas Traveler, Henderson's Winsal, Coulis de Tareau, Granny Cantrell, Giant Belgium, Delicious, Limbaugh's Legacy, Neves Azorean Red, German Johnson, Pruden's Purple, Spudakee, Red Barn, and Marianna's Peace. Last season the most successful varieties were Limbaugh's Legacy, German Johnson, Delicious, Brandywine Sudduth's and Cowlick's, Neves Azorean Red, Dester, JD's Special C Tex and Arkansas Traveler. Usually Indian Stripe PL is my most prolific tomato but I had bad luck with grafting it last year so it didn't even get planted until August so it didn't have time to produce the usual massive numbers I have had in the past. I have had real success with heart varieties in the past but have dropped most of them because of the bland taste most have but if you want a lot of meaty fruits for canning you might want to try Donskoi, Wes, and a few others.

There are some varieties that produce more and larger fruits with some of the other root stocks I have tried but my overall success rate with RST-04-106 makes it by far my preferred root stock. I have not had a single case of Bacterial Wilt with any plants grafted to it while every other root stock seems to have little or no resistance to BW. I find that I don't get so much over vegetative growth with it and it seems to have less effect on the growth habit of the different varieties. Since I do the single stem drop and lower method it really works well for me. I still have some seed from last year and hope that NE seeds gets some more in before I run out. The 105 is not as good an alternative for me since I have all three races of fusarium to deal with so if they don't resume sale of RST-04-106 I will be using Estamino and Multifort. Both are good root stock for my garden and though they don't work as well on some varieties they generally produce somewhat larger fruit on many varieties and they do seem to produce larger more robust plants that last a long time unless BW hits them.

Bill
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Old January 1, 2019   #43
jtjmartin
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Zendog:

I did pick up some 106 seed from Tomato growers and have some left from this last year. I’ll compare it with the 105 for my conditions here. Fusarium wilt - so far - is not a big problem.

I also picked up some larger plastic boxes to use as healing chambers for grafting.

Now if I can just keep the brakes on planting seeds to early!!!!
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Old January 1, 2019   #44
Harry Cabluck
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Planted rootstock seeds into 17 three-ounce cups Dec. 31, 2018. This is a month earlier than usual planting. Mostly Maxifort from Hydro-Gardens in Colorado Springs, Colo. Including a few SuperNatural rootstock seeds left over from last year... from Tomato Growers Supply in Ft. Myers, Fla. Will plant heirloom tomato seeds once the rootstock germinates. This gamble may pay off if we have a mild spring. There is a rush to beat the torrid heat of July. Happy New Year to all and wishing you successful gardening in 2019.
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Old January 3, 2019   #45
b54red
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I have already started some root stock seed and some heirloom seeds. I stagger plant my root stock seed so I can better match the stems with the heirloom stems. I start my first batch of root stock seed with my first heirlooms but then plant more every 5 to 10 days and in a month or so I will start more heirlooms for later set out and stagger root stock seed for them also. I keep doing this until early summer so I have plants to set out on into July. Grafting for me is a long process so I can stagger my plantings over a five or six month period. I find it easier to keep setting out plants than to try to maintain very old plants and as beds empty of things like broccoli, onions, cucumbers and squash I like to refill them with some tomatoes. I like a long steady supply of fresh eating tomatoes rather than a huge crop all in a month or two. My first two plantings are my largest and give me plenty for canning and each bed after those two is smaller since I am just looking for a few to eat every day.

Bill
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