The cultivation of eggplant grafted on rootstock and grown within protected houses is considered one of the important crops that have developed during the past years on the Mediterranean coast.
Transplantation usually takes place during the eighth and ninth months of the year while production begins after about 60 days of transplantation and continues throughout the winter and spring period. In some Mediterranean countries, this cultivation is the only source of eggplant during the cold period of the year.
Protected eggplant requires less labor than the labor needed to grow other types of vegetables. The fruits are harvested either small for stuffing or large for grilling. The bulk of the production goes to the local domestic market, and a portion is exported to nearby countries.
Why graft on rootstock?
The large soil pest loads (Fusarium, Verticillium, and Nematoda) have made grafting on rootstocks an imperative necessity to ensure the continuity of growth and nodes, and thus the success of this transplant. Currently, more than 95% of the planted seedlings are grafted on rootstocks.
The crucial and essential role in the success of this cultivation is due to the correct selection of the hybrid variety (graft), which must be of high productivity and desirable fruit quality; as well as the selection of the rootstock (root), which has a high resistance to disease pests spread in the region.
For several years, farmers in the coast noticed the superiority of the hybrid variety THURRAYA F1 produced by the Westfrisian. It is an early, high-yielding variety, suitable for a long growing season in greenhouses. The contract is good in low temperature conditions.
The fruits are highly homogeneous, solid and dark in color with a distinctive shine. Dual purpose: picked small for stuffing, and large for grilling, it maintains its dark color in various conditions (temperature fluctuations and thirst…) and is always considered the highest price in the wholesale market. The variety is resistant to gray rot Botrytis, as its growth system is open (petals fall off immediately after fruit set), which makes the conditions unsuitable for rot.
Small Thuraya fruits for Stuffing
On the other hand, the rootstock ZORO is considered the most important hybrid rootstock for grafting eggplant in the region, and it is produced by the Japanese company Takii. The rootstock has good behavior in the nursery in terms of speed, strength, and homogeneity of germination.
In the field it has wide resistance to various soil fungi and nematodes, and is distinguished by its continued growth at low soil temperatures, which leads to continuity of growth and production during this critical period in which product prices are high.
Perhaps the most important advice for farmers of protected eggplant are:
- Not to exaggerate with nitrogen fertilization, especially in the early stages of growth (excess leads to a burgundy color of the fruits)
- Relying on fertilizers that contain magnesium, calcium and potassium
- Not delaying in harvesting the fruits
- Periodically spraying trace elements on the top of the plant
- Monitoring spiders, mites, and white flies.
Eng. Nour Al Dein Haydarie