Evaluating Capsicum and Solanum rootstocks for fresh-market bell pepper production

D.E. Loewen, E. Pliakoni, C.L. Rivard
The adoption of grafting for pepper production occurs worldwide. However, it is unclear whether grafting can provide a significant yield advantage over the use of non-grafted plants in the US. The utilization of Solanum rootstocks for pepper production also has potential to increase plant vigor and disease resistance, but there are conflicting reports in the literature regarding the compatibility of intergeneric Capsicum/Solanum grafts. The objectives of this study were to identify commercially-available pepper rootstocks that improve crop productivity and determine the viability of using Solanum rootstocks for bell pepper production. We conducted five trials in 2016 and 2017 that utilized a randomized complete block design with at least 3 replications. ‘Karisma’ was the non-grafted control and was used as scion for three Capsicum rootstocks (‘Scarface’, ‘Yaocali’, and ‘Meeting’) in addition to two Solanum rootstocks (‘Maxifort’ and ‘Sweetie’). ‘Scarface’ rootstock significantly improved yield (P<0.05) and plants grafted with ‘Scarface’ had on average: 32% greater marketable yield, 15-18% larger fruit, and 9-12% higher marketability than the non-grafted ‘Karisma’ plants. While plants grafted with ‘Yaocali’ showed similar results, they were less consistent and ‘Meeting’ rootstock did not provide any significant effects on yield. The Solanum rootstocks, ‘Maxifort’ and ‘Sweetie’, displayed symptoms of delayed incompatibility when grafted with ‘Karisma’ scions, including significant (78 to 89%) reductions in yield. Based on our results, Solanum rootstocks are not able to provide a suitable rootstock for bell pepper, but the utilization of Capsicum rootstocks, ‘Scarface’ and ‘Yaocali’ may be useful for growers that want to increase crop productivity.
Loewen, D.E., Pliakoni, E. and Rivard, C.L. (2021). Evaluating Capsicum and Solanum rootstocks for fresh-market bell pepper production. Acta Hortic. 1302, 259-264
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2021.1302.34
splice grafting, tube grafting, graft compatibility, high tunnel, hoophouse, season extension

Acta Horticulturae