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Revista mexicana de ciencias agrícolas

versión impresa ISSN 2007-0934

Rev. Mex. Cienc. Agríc vol.8 no.3 Texcoco abr./may. 2017 

Investigation notes

Efficiency of rootstock use on yield and leaf nutritional dynamics of macronutrients in bell pepper

Jonathan Acevedo-Chávez1 

Esteban Sánchez-Chávez1  §  

1Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo, A. C. Unidad Delicias. Av. Cuarta Sur 3820, Fracc. Vencedores del Desierto, Cd. Delicias, Chihuahua. México. CP. 33089.


The objective of this paper was to study the efficiency of rootstock use on yield and nutritional dynamics of macronutrients in bell pepper. Fascinato and Janette commercial varieties of bell pepper were used and a commercial Terrano rootstock. The experiment was carried out in a shade mesh system in Delicias, Chihuahua, Mexico during the production cycle of 2012. The results indicate that the variety-rootstock Fascinato-Terrano and Janette-Terrano produced the highest fruit yields, 53.47% and 49.40%, respectively, in relation to the same ungrafted varieties. Also, Fascinato grafted with Terrano, showed the best nutritional status that contributed to the maximum yield, assuming that the use of rootstocks could be a viable technique in the sustainable horticulture of the future.

Keywords: Capsicum annuum L.; bell pepper; productivity; rootstock


El objetivo del presente trabajo fue estudiar la eficiencia del uso de portainjerto sobre el rendimiento y dinámica nutricional foliar de macronutrientes en pimiento morrón. Se utilizaron las variedades comerciales de pimiento morrón Fascinato y Janette y el portainjerto comercial Terrano. El experimento se desarrolló en un sistema de malla sombra en Delicias, Chihuahua, México durante el ciclo de producción 2012. Los resultados indican que la combinación variedad- portainjerto Fascinato- Terrano y Janette- Terrano produjeron altos rendimientos en fruto, registrándose incrementos de 53.47% y 49.4% respectivamente en relación a las mismas variedades sin injertar. Asimismo, Fascinato injertado con Terrano, mostró el mejor estado nutricional y tuvo el máximo rendimiento, asumiéndose que el uso de portainjertos sería una técnica viable en la horticultura sustentable del futuro.

Palabras clave: Capsicum annuum L.; pimiento morrón; portainjerto; productividad


Nowadays, vegetable production is a very important activity in the agricultural sector, with bell pepper (Capsicum annum L.) being the seventh of the world’s major horticultural crops, both for its economic and nutritional value (FAO, 2015). In Mexico, an area of 2 641.43 ha of bell pepper is cultivated with an average yield of 42.08 t ha-1, which represents an economic value of 519 321.21 million pesos (SIAP-SAGARPA, 2015). However, in order to make bell pepper production more efficient, innovative technologies such as shade mesh production and the use of rootstocks are being implemented.

Rootstock technology has been used to deal with different types of stresses, such as nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.), tobamovirus, and chylous wilt (Phytophtora capsici), the last one is the main reason for its use (Louws et al., 2010). In addition, rootstocks have been used to improve nutrient content in the aerial part, to reduce the absorption of persistent organic pollutants from agricultural soils, to increase tolerance to salts and floods, to limit the negative effect of Boron and Copper toxicity, to reduce chemical applications or fertilizers, to increase fruit quality and improve nutrient uptake and mineral nutrition (Pulgar et al., 2000; Lee et al., 2010).

Therefore, knowing the nutritional behavior of the varieties whe being grafted can help in the development of an optimal fertilization program, also to improve the quality of the fruit, to avoid an excessive growth of the plant and to have a more efficient nutrimental contribution. Therefore, the objective of this paper was to evaluate the efficiency of the use of rootstocks on yield and nutritional dynamics of macronutrients in bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.).


In this paper, the leaves and the fruit of grafted and ungrafted bell pepper were analyzed to determine the nutritional content of the plants. Pepper samples were obtained from a commercial crop belonging to the “Los Alamos” Agricultural Company developed under shade mesh during the 2012 production cycle in Delicias, Chihuahua, Mexico.

In this experiment, the commercial varieties of pepper (Syngenta Seed, Houston, TX, USA) were used, Fascinate (red fruits) and Janette (yellow fruits) grafted with the Terrano commercial pattern (Syngenta Seeds) due to its resistance to wilting caused by the Phytophthora capsici oomycete. Seeds were sown in January 2012 and commercial varieties were grafted 31 days after sowing. 5 weeks after grafting, the plants were transplanted into the shade house. In this study, the soil used had a clay-sandy texture (29.84% clays, 12.08% silt and 57.36% sand), inorganic N of 50.17 ppm, P of 64.14 ppm, CIC of 32.5 meq100 g-1, CE of 0.84 dS m-1, MO of 1.68% and pH of 7.72.

The fertilization program for a 220-day cycle consisted of the following forms and application rates: NH4NO3 (50.4 g m-2), UAN32 (37.7 g m-2), 5-30-00 (N-P-K) (56 g m-2), KNO3 (44.8g m-2), Ca (NO3)2 (162.3 g m-2), K2SO4 (201.3 g m-2) and MgSO4 (107.5 g m-2) providing fertilization with commercial products.

The experimental design was in randomized blocks with four treatments: (1) Fascinato grafted (Fascinato-Terrano); (2) Janette grafted (Janette-Terrano); (3) ungrafted Fascinato; (4) Janette ungrafted, these last two treatments were used as control. During the production cycle 2012, seven samples were taken: June 29th, July 09th, August 06th, August 20th, September 03th, October 08th and October 29th, respectively.

The harvested fruits were classified as commercial quality according to the Mexican Supreme Quality standard (SAGARPA, 2012). The mineral nutrients analyzed were: N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Na, Fe, Mn, Cu, Zn and Ni. The elements were mineralized by means of a triacid digestion. Subsequently, the readings were made in the atomic absorption spectrophotometer for all mineral nutrients (Uvalle-Bueno, 1995).

The data obtained were subjected to an analysis of variance. For the difference between the means of the treatments, the LSD at 95% test was used (SAS, 1987).



Agricultural yield is the main agronomic parameter indicating productivity in crops (Schroeder et al., 1997). In this paper, significant yield differences were obtained between evaluated varieties, mainly between grafted and non-grafted plants (Figure 1). The varieties with the highest production were Fascinato grafted with Terrano and Janette grafted with Terrano, obtaining an increase of 53.47% and 49.40% respectively in relation to the same ungrafted varieties, which coincides with Godoy (2007), who describes that in results obtained In Seokwang tomato grafted with two different patterns, the increase in yield was 54 and 51%, respectively. Ruiz et al. (1997) found significant differences in yield between the grafted and ungrafted Yuma and Gallicum melon varieties on three different rootstocks where the Kamel rootstock showed the highest yield with both varieties. In our study, yield was significantly influenced by the interaction between grafts and rootstock, coinciding with Zijlstra et al. (1994), who mention that the rootstock determines the yield in the grafted plants.

Figure 1 Effect of the variety-rootstock combination on the total production of bell pepper. The vertical lines in each bar correspond to the standard deviation. Averages with equal letters in each bar are not statistically different (LSD, 0.05).  

Nitrogen nutritional dynamics (N)

Nitrogen is the mineral element that plants require in large quantities and is considered the limiting nutrient for crop growth and yield, in addition to being the most studied fertilizer (Marschner, 1995). In this study, the nitrogen concentration of the non-grafted varieties exceeded the values obtained in the same grafted varieties during the first phenological stages of the crop, however, it was observed that the grafted varieties increased the concentration with respect to those not grafted (Figure 2A), coinciding with Ruiz et al. (1997), who found that the use of the Kamel rootstock with the Yuma variety in melon plants reduced nitrogen uptake by less than 25%, as did the Gallicum variety on the RS-841 rootstock.

Figure 2 Effect of rootstock use on the nutritional dynamics of macronutrients in bell pepper: A) nitrogen; B) phosphorus; C) potassium; D) calcium; E) magnesium; and F) sodium. T1= Janette without graft; T2= Janette grafted with Terrano; T3= Fascinato without graft; T4= Fascinato grafted with Terrano.  

In addition, the use of different rootstock genotypes caused little change in the macronutrient foliar content, mainly in N. On the other hand, it was observed that the obtained values of N with respect to the reference values by Mills and Jones (1991), indicate that they are below the sufficiency range (3.5-5%). This is probably due to the fact that the grafted varieties are more productive and therefore demand more N, being this element associated to crops’ development and yield.

Nutritional dynamics of phosphorus (P)

Phosphorus is an essential element for higher plants, is required in higher concentrations in tissues and is particularly indispensable during vegetative growth (Mengel and Kirkby, 2001). In this paper, the nutritional dynamics of P showed differences in the concentration of this element between the grafted and ungrafted Janette and Fascinato varieties, standing out in the Janette-Terrano variety, which showed an increase of 10.81% in its concentration due to the influence of rootstock, mainly after harvest (Figure 2B), coinciding with Ruiz et al. (1996), who mention that the use of rootstocks in melon plants can improve some morphological and physiological characteristics to increase the soil P uptake and its translocation towards the leaves of the graft. Similar case reported Ruiz et al. (1997), who describe that regardless of the pattern used, P concentrations in grafted melon plants were higher than in non-grafted varieties, coinciding with Contreras (2014), who found significant differences in favor of grafted tomato plants, showing a 6.83% increase in P concentration in relation to ungrafted plants.

On the other hand, Mills and Jones (1991), mention that the sufficiency range of P in bell pepper is 0.22-0.7%. In this paper, the grafted and ungrafted Janette and Fascinato varieties were below the sufficiency range. However, P levels were not limiting in the production of bell pepper, since the variety Fascinato grafted with Terrano was the most productive, followed by the variety Janette grafted with Terrano.

Nutritional dynamics of potassium (K)

K is an essential macronutrient required in large quantities for normal growth and development of crops. Some of the main functions of plants where K is involved are: osmoregulation, starch synthesis, enzyme activation, protein synthesis, stomatal movement and ionic balance (Marschner, 1995). For a good growth and development of bell pepper, the sufficiency range of K stands for 3.5-4.5% (Mills and Jones, 1991), which indicates that in this paper values were obtained below the sufficiency range in both grafted and non-grafted varieties (Figure 2C). However, the dynamics presented by K were stable for all varieties of evaluated bell pepper. Godoy et al. (2008), observed a higher concentration of K in grafted tomato plants (35%), as did Ruiz et al. (1997) reported that K levels in grafted melon plants decreased from non-grafted plants by as much as 52%. However, in this paper the effect of rootstock and low K level on reference values were not limiting on the yield of bell pepper.

Nutritional dynamics of calcium (Ca)

Ca is an essential nutrient for plants. As a divalent cation, it is required for the structural functions of the cell wall and membranes, as a counter-cation of inorganic and organic anions in the vacuole (Mengel and Kirkby, 2001). In the leaf analysis for Ca, significant differences were observed among the varieties evaluated by effect of the rootstock. The Fascinato-Terrano variety showed a positive influence on the concentration of Ca from the harvest (August 20th), while the Janette-Terrano variety decreased its concentration with respect to the same ungrafted variety. It is important to emphasize that in all varieties a decrease in the foliar concentration at the end of the cycle was shown (Figure 2D), contrary to the one described by Noh-Medina et al. (2010), who mention that the concentration of Ca in ungrafted habanero chile, decreases with respect to the maturity of the plants. Godoy et al. (2008), found that the Gironde variety grafted with Maxifort on tomato plants, showed higher concentration of Ca with respect to the same ungrafted variety, however, Contreras (2014) reported that no significant differences were found due to the grafting effect in the Ca concentration in tomato plants.

On the other hand, Mills and Jones (1991) report that the optimal sufficiency values for Ca in bell pepper is 1.3-2.8%, reaching the Terrano grafted and ungrafted Fascinato varieties, an optimum point for Ca in the harvest stage.

Nutritional dynamics of magnesium (Mg)

The most known role of magnesium (Mg) in plants is their presence in the center of the chlorophyll molecule and for this reason is essential for photosynthesis, it is also involved in protein metabolism (Marschner, 1995). In this paper, the nutritional analysis of Mg showed constant dynamics for all the evaluated varieties, with an increase in the concentration at the end of the production cycle, emphasizing in the grafted Janette and Fascinato varieties. Ruiz et al. (1997) observed that in grafted melon plants, the concentration of Mg decreased with respect to the non-grafted, coinciding with Godoy et al. (2008), who observed that the concentration of Mg was significantly lower in grafted tomato plants. In this paper, it was determined that the use of Terrano rootstock positively influences the concentration of Mg in the Fascinato and Janette varieties.

On the other hand, the obtained values of Mg concentration in the evaluated varieties were considered within the sufficiency range according to Mills and Jones (1991), who describe it for bell pepper the range is of 0.3-2.8%.

Nutritional dynamics of sodium (Na)

Sodium stimulates growth through cell elongation and can replace potassium as an osmotically active solute (Mengel and Kirkby, 2001). In this study, the values obtained show that the Janette and Fascinato grafted varieties have a lower level of Na than the ungrafted ones (Figure 2F). The highest demand for Na was shown at the harvest stage, with the grafted Fascinato and Janette varieties standing out.

According to Mills and Jones (1991), the Na is considered a nonessential element, therefore they do not present data of its sufficiency range in bell pepper.


The magnesium nutrient showed values within the sufficiency range, while nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and calcium showed values below the sufficiency range. However, growth, development of the crop and production of bell pepper were not limited by these elements. The combination of Fascinato-Terrano and Janette-Terrano produced the highest fruit yield, with increases of 53.47% and 49.4%, respectively, in relation to the same ungrafted varieties. The use of the rootstock allowed to increase the production and the nutritional status of the red pepper of the varieties Fascinato and Janette, therefore it is assumed that the use of rootstocks could be a viable technique in the sustainable horticulture of the future.

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Received: February 2017; Accepted: May 2017

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