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Buffalo Gourd as rootstock for squash, melons?  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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Buffalo Gourd, Cucurbita foetidissima, is a dryland perennial gourd. It has a giant tap root going down many feet and is very vigorous and drought tolerant. However, the gourds produced are bitter. It does have some uses; the seeds are edible, and the roots can be processed for starch.

I'm wondering if cultivated curbits could be grafted onto it. Would it affect fruit quality? Would the grafts take?

Just imagine a field of mixed grasses, etc. with rows of buffalo gourd rootstocks evenly spaced down it. Every year, little squash transplants could be brought out, rooted into the soil, grafted to the buffalo gourd, and then cut of their own roots.

Result, a field of perennial, drought tolerant squash! Carbon sequestration, no-till, etc. And a large harvest of root starch every ten years.

Or not?

 
Gilbert Fritz
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Nobody on this inventive forum has tried this? I'd think it was a really good idea, except that it does not seem to be done much. I found one indirect reference to somebody trying to graft a giant pumpkin to it, but no word as to results.
 
pollinator
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Gilbert Fritz wrote:Nobody on this inventive forum has tried this? I'd think it was a really good idea, except that it does not seem to be done much. I found one indirect reference to somebody trying to graft a giant pumpkin to it, but no word as to results.



Only one solution for that, friend!
If you do it, please post some pics.
 
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Fascinating idea. What actually happens when an annual is grafted onto a perennial rootstock?
 
pollinator
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I can't wait to hear how the grafts take.  It would also be interesting to try crossing squash grafted on buffalo gourd with buffalo gourd to see if the grafted plants act as good mentors to allow crosses to take better.
 
pollinator
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This seems like a great idea.
Normally I would be doubtful of the efficency of graftung annual anything,but given the bounty that a single squash plant can produce on one seasons worth of roots, I can see this being well worth it.
A little work for a lot of payoff.
Tapping into the gourd's resistance to disease and bugs, especially squash borers,would be amazing!
 
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If grafting didn't work I wonder if cross pollination and development of a landrace could be done ?
 
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From what I looked up buffalo gourd and squashes all have the same number of chromosomes  2n = 40.
I found an article on curcurbit grafting:
http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/43/6/1677.full

I now kicking my self for not trying grafting on the Chilicayote (Cucurbita ficifolia) vine I had going over the last few years.

I looks like Curcurbita maxima may be closer related, however you would only know compatibility through experimentation.  Having stems on the buffalo gourd and squash that are close enough in size to graft seems like a pretty tough, but doable.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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Fascinating idea. What actually happens when an annual is grafted onto a perennial rootstock?



As I understand it, the Buffalo Gourd is a perennial, but the vines are annual and die back each year, coming back from the rootstock. So I would guess that the vine would need to be re-grafted every year.

If grafting didn't work I wonder if cross pollination and development of a landrace could be done ?



It would also be interesting to try crossing squash grafted on buffalo gourd with buffalo gourd to see if the grafted plants act as good mentors to allow crosses to take better.


It sounds like crosses are difficult and usually result in sterile plants, which is too bad. I'm not sure why that would be. It could be that grafting would help crosses to work. A dependably perennial squash would be wonderful.

Only one solution for that, friend! 
If you do it, please post some pics.



I'll try!

 
Gilbert Fritz
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Further issues I'd have to overcome:

Most squash and melon grafts are done on seedlings; the rootstock leaves and growing point are removed. In contrast, I'd be grafting onto a stem of an established, multi-stemmed plant with its crown intact. This may lead to several issues: the stems may be hollow, unlike seedling stems (squash stems go hollow at a certain point) and the crown will produce more stems, which would need to be cut off to avoid them swamping the graft.

I'd be working with large, established plants outdoors (since that is the whole point. My early experiments may be done with seedlings in a greenhouse.) This will make graft healing more difficult. Probably only approach grafting, where both plants retain their roots until the graft heals, would work, because small cutting would wither before healing in a field situation. I'd have to start small squash seedlings and transplant them out to the buffalo gourd field, graft, and cut off the top of the buffalo gourd stem and the squash roots latter. Even then, I would probably need a temporary shaded cloche over each to maintain humidity, low light, and higher temperature.

I could probably leave the squash seedling in their starting pots, avoiding the extra step of transplanting. This in and of itself would allow earlier, greater production; squash typically don't transplant well, and I'd be able to start them earlier then transplant seedlings. This might make up for the lost time while the grafts heal.

Squash roots from stems: the squash will probably root themselves into the ground at stem nodes (though this is less likely to happen in my dry climate.) Is this a problem? So long as the initial graft takes, and all sprouts from the buffalo gourd rootstock kept pruned away, they'd still have a big, established root system pumping energy into them; I'd think this advantage would continue, though I'm no expert. In any case, I'd expect much faster initial growth then a seedling could produce.

 
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