A moshav-based Israeli agricultural group is bringing its tailored system of
grafted vegetable seedlings to locations all over the world – plants that are
adjusted for survival in hot climates and resistant to many soil-borne
The company, Hishtil Nurseries, is based at Moshav Nehalim, a
religious moshav located just east of Petah Tikva.
Grafting – the merging
of tissues of multiple plants together, to combine different roots with
different stems or flowers – is a common practice all over the globe, but is
relatively new in the vegetable world, Menni Shadmi, marketing director at
Hishtil, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
Much more unique is the
specific niche that Hishtil is targeting with its grafting, creating vegetable
seedlings whose roots are particularly water conservative and are fitting for
hot environments such as those in Israel, according to Shadmi.
plants together for fruit-bearing vegetables began about 30 years ago in the
Netherlands – with greenhouse fruits and vegetables like capsicum, melons and
tomatoes – but “it was an isolated market share fulfilled by local suppliers,”
The process caught on at Hishtil about 15 years ago, and only in
the past couple of years has the company begun to enter the international market
with its seedlings tailored to hot climates.
Grafting in general caught
on after bans on methyl bromide went into effect across the world, “giving the
growers no choices for soil fumigation” and thereby paving the way for the
spread of soil-borne diseases, Shadmi explained.
“This took a heavy toll
from the yield of the vegetables,” he said.
Grafting for vegetables – “a
combination of very strong and resistant root, stalk and scions [the
fruitbearing portion]” – generated vegetable plants that were immune to many of
the most harmful soil diseases, according to Shadmi.
“Growers are forces
to combat new diseases every day,” he said. “As such, based on this development,
the importance and the usage of grafted plants especially in fruity vegetables
is very popular.”
The agriculturalists at Moshav Nehalim then decided to
take the grafting one-step further, and cultivate seedlings that can survive
extreme temperatures in addition to diseases.
“We took the knowledge of
grafting and have developed it and adopted it to grow in our area – with high
humidity, high sun radiation, high temperature,” Shadmi said. “Plants are
getting weaker and weaker under climatic pressure while the bad guys, the
diseases, are enhanced and grow based on these conditions that are favorable to
The only other competition that Hishtil is currently facing in its
hot climate vegetable grafting is from a Dutch company called Grow Group, since
American company Speedling recently dropped out of the race, according to
Shadmi. Thus far, Hishtil has brought its seedlings to five nurseries throughout
Israel and additional nurseries in South Africa, Turkey, Italy and
The seedlings arrive at nurseries at about six weeks old, in
order to spare farmers from “the problematic phase of planting seeds and waiting
for germination and seedling growth,” a spokesman for Hishtil
Turkey is using the development in order to strengthen its position
as an exporter of vegetables to Europe and Asia, the spokesman
African nations can potentially use the vegetables to increase
food production, as the continent suffers from a severe lack in food supplies,
the spokesman added.
Other future areas of interest include the United
States southern Sunbelt, Mexico, South America, southern parts of Europe and the
Far East, Shadmi said.
“The plans are big but our ability is somewhat
lesser,” he acknowledged. “We are trying to utilize whatever we have.” Shadmi
stressed, however, that the company does intend to become an emerging player in
the international field of seedling grafting, which he believes has many
advantages beyond disease resistance.
“In terms of environmental
friendliness of course we are replacing the methyl bromide, but we also save
quite a lot of water and increase yields,” Shadmi said. “We are allowing growers
to have higher yields from the very same plots they have now or even growing on
smaller plots and having the same yield.”