The rootstock: an important tile in the sustainable apple production puzzle


Grafting is an old horticultural technique, which consists in combining the lower part (rootstock) and the upper part (scion) of the tree. The rootstock has an influence on tree size, yield, fruit quality, water and nutrient uptake. In addition, some genotypes can induce resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses.
This project aims to test different rootstock genotypes of several species (top and stone fruit), verifying their adaptability to different cultivars and soil conditions, yield efficiency and disease resistance in different areas of the Trentino region. These rootstocks come from the breeding programs of various international institutions and their availability is the result of agreements that commit us to the adoption of common evaluation protocols.
Our mission focuses primarily on the identification of rootstocks resistant to replant disease, which is one of the growing issues in apple crop in our region. Soil microbiome changes induced by the different genotypes are also under research studies.
Besides the above, the resistance of the rootstocks towards the main tree diseases affecting the apple crop in the Trento province [Apple proliferation (Candidatus Phytoplasma mali), Woolly apple aphid (Eriosoma lanigerum Hausm.) and the fruit tree canker (Nectria galligena)] are worth investigation.
Graft combinations are being evaluated on how they react to different pruning and training systems. They will also be assessed for their productivity, fruit quality and their adaptability to mechanization. Management costs such as planting, pruning and thinning will also be weighed in.