Tomato Rootstock Field Evaluation - Tomato grafting may be an important IPM tool for US growers that wish to manage soilborne diseases without chemical fumigation. Rootstock-specific hybrids have been developed in Europe and Asia that confer resistance to soilborne plant pathogens such as Ralstonia solancearum, Meloidogyne spp., Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. lycopersici, but careful evaluation of these rootstocks is needed to ensure their durability in the US. A major component of our program is to identify rootstocks effective at managing these diseases, and these trials are carried out on-farm and at traditional research stations. For more informtation on rootstocks and grafting technique, check the extension page or click here.


CEFS High Tunnels - 2007

CEFS High Tunnel and Grafting Project - This project represents a two-year experiment initiated at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) to investigate the role of high tunnels and grafting for organic heirloom tomato production. Through a collaboratory effort with Mary Peet and Suzanne O'Connell in the Department of Horticultural sciences, and all the good folks at CEFS, we were able to build two 30' x 96' high tunnels and grow grafted and non-grafted heirloom tomatoes in the tunnels and adjacent field plots. Environmental, disease, economic, and crop productivity data are currently under review. For more information on this project, click here.


Tomato Defense Physiology - Plants are able to protect themselves in numerous ways from pathogens and pests. The root system provides an ecological interface with the soil community. An important question is to determine the impact that grafting and inter-specific rootstocks will have on endogenous plant defense mechanisms. The final objective of my graduate research program is to gain a better understanding for the effect of grafting on systemic physiological mechanisms within the plant. Special thanks to help from Heike Winter-Sederoff and Raul Salinas at the Plant Sensory Genomics Group located in the Department of Plant Biology.


Rivard, C.L. and F.J. Louws. 2008. Grafting to manage soilborne diseases in heirloom tomato production. HortScience 43: 2104-2111

Rivard, C.L. and F.J. Louws, 2006.  Grafting for Disease Resistance in Heirloom TomatoesAg-675:  Extension Factsheet.  College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Services.


Rivard, C.L., S. O’Connell, M.M. Peet, and F.J. Louws.  2008.  Grafting as a viable tool to manage major soilborne diseases in the SE-USAProceedings from the 2008 Annual International Research Conference on Methyl Bromide Alternatives and Emissions Reductions.  Orlando, FL USA.

Rivard, C.L. and F.J. Louws, 2007.  Disease Management and Crop Productivity Utilizing Grafted TomatoesProceedings from the 2007 Annual International Research Conference on Methyl Bromide Alternatives and Emissions Reductions.  San Diego, CA USA.

Rivard, C.L. and F.J. Louws, 2006.  Grafting: An Integrated Approach for Soilborne Disease ManagementProceedings from the 21st Annual Tomato Disease Workshop.  Fletcher, NC USA.

Meeting Abstracts

Rivard, C.L., F. J. Louws, M.M. Peet, and S. O’Connell.  2008.  High tunnels and grafting for disease management in organic tomato productionPhytopathology 98:S133

Rivard, C.L. and F.J. Louws, 2007.  Elevation of proteinase inhibitor II (PIN II) expression in tomato as a response to graftingPhytopathology 97:S99.

Rivard, C.L. and F.J. Louws, 2007. Grafting for soilborne disease management in organic heirloom tomato productionPhytopathology 97:S99.

Rivard, C.L. and F.J. Louws, 2006.  Grafting Provides a Multi-strategic Management Tool for Heirloom Tomato Production SystemsPhytopathology 96:S98 .

Project Reports

O'Connell, S., C.L. Rivard, S. Hartmann, M.M. Peet, and F.J. Louws. 2008 Organic Farming Research Foundation Research Grant. Grafting Tomatoes on Disease Resistant Rootstocks in Small-scale Organic Production Systems.

Groff, S. and C.L. Rivard. 2007 Northeast Region SARE Producer Grant. Grafting Tomatoes in Multi-bay High Tunnels to Overcome Soilborne Diseases.

Rivard, C.L. and F.J. Louws. 2006 Southern Region SARE Graduate Student Fellowship in Sustainable Agriculture. Inducing Disease Resistance and Increased Production in Organic Heirloom Tomatoes Through Grafting.

Checking out the research plot (Photo: Suzanne O'Connell

CEFS 2007

Grading the harvest at CEFS
Ralstonia solancearum growing in culture