by Staff Writer - A. Heinzman | June 14, 2012

The term rootstock is used to indicate a component used in the grafting process. Rootstocks are root systems from a specific plant that are grafted to the top growth or scions of another plant.

Grafting is a process used to combine two different plants into one. Unlike a hybrid between different cultivars, grafting preserves the genetic identities of both the rootstock and scion. The preservation of genetic identities allows characteristics found in the rootstocks and scions to continue in the new grafted plant. Grafting programs for grapevines were popularized by the threat of Phylloxera. As Vitis vinifera was susceptible to the Phylloxera louse, the vineyards of Europe began to wither and die. Horticulturists recognized that Native American grape varieties were resistant to Phylloxera and advocated grafting as a method to combat Phylloxera. Grafting is still used today to combat Phylloxera, with additional benefits recognized as well. Viticulturists can select rootstocks attuned to local growing conditions. These site-specific rootstocks provide an advantage in that the grafted grapevine will show optimum growth. Rootstocks are typically older than their scion counterparts. This is mainly to ensure that the grafted union has time to become strong before excessive growth is realized.

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