The new rootstock developed by East-West Seed is the secret why their grafted ampalaya can sustain as many as 37 harvests instead of the usual 15 to 18 harvests from the ungrafted plants. Yes, farmers growing grafted ampalaya can harvest from their grafted plants for as long as five months instead of only two months from the ungrafted ones. Harvesting is done every four days.
This was explained by Ric Reyes, Marketing and Strategy Consultant of East-West Seed. He said that the new rootstock, a luffa hybrid, produces a big stem, as big as an arm, that develops an extensive root system. The grafted ampalaya seedlings with Mestiza F1 scion are now distributed by Farm Ready Seedling Corporation, a subsidiary of East-West in partnership with another Dutch company.
The grafted ampalaya grows into a vigorous plant that enables it to sustain a long productive life. With an extensive root system the grafted plant can take up nutrients from the soil very effectively. The vigorous plants are resistant to diseases like bacterial wilt, fusarium wilt, nematodes and Namamarako. They can also withstand drought and waterlogging better than the ungrafted plants.
Among the happy farmers who vowed to plant only the grafted ampalaya from now on because of the high yield and long productive life include Gabby Retuya, Benito Pales of Calauan, Laguna, Edwin Laguardia of Alcala, Pangasinan and Doming Castro of Floridablanca, Pampanga.
The grafted ampalaya seedlings cost P28 each compared to only P10 of the ungrafted. Those who have experienced the big advantage of growing the grafted seedlings don’t mind the high price, however.
In the meantime, the Farm Ready Seedling firm is intensifying its production of grafted seedlings. It is also conducting seminars and teach-ins to spread the good news about the grafted ampalaya.
The grafted ampalaya technology is not exactly new. In 2011, East-West was already producing grafted ampalaya but the rootstock used was not as vigorous as the new one. The new rootstock is now starting to revolutionize ampalaya production in the Philippines.
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