Since he’s been grafting tomatoes, the North Carolina grower says grafting has likely increased his greenhouse production by 30-35 percent annually. “I don’t have any scientific data to back those numbers up, but based on production we used to get prior to grafting transplants, I think it’s fairly accurate, Elmore says.

He typically manages his greenhouse tomatoes, and via a process he calls the Dutch single stem system, can harvest well into November in most years. Again, in most years, he says he harvests about 20-40 pounds of tomatoes per rootstock.

(For another look at tomato grafting and how it can impact the crop, click here).

 “In Europe, growers use the system to grow year-around, but we feel like we get some benefit from letting the soil rest for a couple of months. We begin sowing our rootstock and scion plants in November, and begin transplanting new plants in February, he says.

As the tomato plants grow in the greenhouse, Elmore uses a European-inspired ‘lean and lower” system in which the plants are lowered and lifted by a trellis string. The primary reason is to keep the 20-foot long (by the end of the harvest season) vines producing tomatoes no higher than six feet or so above the ground.

Though tomatoes are a principal crop at Thatchmore Farms, they are not the only ones that benefit from an array of environmental friendly production systems. For example, a 16 panel solar system provides about 25 percent of the energy needed to power the farm and the Elmore residence, located on the farm.

rroberson@farmpress.com

         

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