Grafted Tomatoes - The best qualities of two plants - in one

Imagine a tomato plant that:

  • Improves production with overall plant health and vigor
  • Resists soil borne diseases
  • Reduces or eliminates the need for pesticide use
  • Lengthen the harvest season
  • Significantly increases fruit yield

A grafted heirloom plant provides these qualities along with the outstanding flavor, color and shape diversity that heirloom tomatoes are known for.

What is a grafted heirloom tomato transplant?

Two different tomato plants are selected and grown under specific conditions to produce a grafted tomato:

  1. An heirloom or open-pollinated tomato variety is selected for taste, color and/or shape
  2. A hybrid tomato variety is selected for resistance to soil borne disease such as nematodes, verticillium wilt, fusarium wilt, etc.

When the two types of tomato seedlings are approximately 3" to 4" tall, the top of each plant is removed. The top of the hybrid plant is discarded and the top of the heirloom (referred to as the "scion") is matched with the bottom of the disease resistant hybrid. The grafted plant is then placed in a climate controlled environment to allow the tomato top and bottom to form a strong union. After 14 days, the grafted tomato plant, with all the characteristics of its parent plants, is ready for transplanting.

Grafted Heirloom Tomato Transplant

Benefits of using Grafted Heirloom Tomato Plants

  • Increased productivity

In addition to disease resistance, grafting produces plants that can overcome certain environmental stressors that lead to decreased yields. Stressors include high salinity from irrigation, excess moisture in the soil and soil temperature extremes.

Even without disease and/or stressors, productivity is increased by using vigorous rootstocks that are very efficient in water and nutrient uptake.

  • Extended harvests

    Typically a tomato grower in NC will plant two tomato crops, one in the spring and a second planting in mid-July, to compensate for tomato plants that have succumbed to disease. The typical picking time from an heirloom plant is six to eight weeks. Grafted heirloom tomato growers are seeing up to 20 weeks of harvest. The extended harvest means planting one tomato plant for the season instead of two.

  • Resists soil borne diseases

Grafting has been used to eliminate verticillium and fusarium wilt in tomato and cucurbit production systems in Japan, Korea, and Greece. In Morocco and Greece, grafting is used to control root-knot nematodes in both tomatoes and cuburbits.

  • Reduces or eliminates the need for pesticide use

Researchers have proposed using grafted plants instead of soil fumigants such as methyl bromide to manage soil borne diseases.


  • Growers who are unable to rotate crops in order to prevent build-up of soil borne diseases. These growers range from greenhouse or high-tunnel growers to home gardeners with limited garden space.
  • Organic growers who do not rely on chemical disease controls and want built-in disease resistance in heirloom tomatoes.
  • Conventional growers who want to lessen the reliance on chemical disease controls.
  • Growers who want a longer harvest season without the expense and labor of planting multiple tomato crops to compensate for plant loss due to disease.

Contact Windcrest Farm for quality Certified Organic Transplants

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