WHAT IS BLOSSOM END ROT ON TOMATOES



Blossom end rot is perhaps the most common physiological disorder you will experience with growing tomatoes. Typically it shows itself as a circular, dark brown patch of skin found at the flowering end of the fruit – hence the name. As the fruit grows this unsightly dark patch gradually toughens and shrinks back into the fruit.

What Causes Blossom End Rot?

This disorder is caused by a deficiency of calcium within the plant and its relatively poor mobility through the plant tissues. This is important as calcium is not only a valuable component within the plant cell walls and is also vital in the production of new cell walls and the normal function of plant membranes.

Because of this, the problem of calcium deficiency is most noticeable in areas where there is significant cell division, and when you consider the rapid growth generated in the production of a tomato fruit it is understandable why cell death (necrosis) can occur in this region when the availability of calcium is restricted.

Calcium deficiency should not be confused with lack of availability as its uptake can be inhibited by high levels of potassium, magnesium and /or ammonium-nitrogen within the root environment. Surprisingly other factors that can inhibit the uptake of calcium can include water stress and high humidity. To a lesser extent boron deficiency can also be a factor as it is needed for the transport of calcium within the plants tissues.

How to Treat Blossom End Rot

There is no magic bullet to deal with blossom end rot and this is because of the complex inter-relationships that calcium has with other elements within the plants cells. However a holistic approach is normally best although signs of improvement are usually slow to appear.

It's probably worth doing a pH test first as acidic soils have naturally lower levels of calcium compared to alkaline soils. If this is the case then apply lime to the soil, but go by the manufacturer’s recommendations according to soil type - try to end up with a soil pH of about 6.5. You can also consider spraying the affected fruit with solutions of calcium nitrate or calcium chloride. This is applied at a concentration of 2 grams per litre on a fortnightly basis.

In the greenhouse environment it's important to keep humidity levels low, so make sure there is good ventilation throughout the growing space. Air circulation can be further improved by removing the older, lower leaves from the base of the plants.

Never apply fertilizer to dry soil and any irrigation that is in place must be sufficient to maintain a good, steady, growth rate for the plants – this is particularly important during the summer period. For outdoor tomatoes, giving the soil a good mulch can be very helpful in maintaining water levels in the soil especially in times of moisture stress. When feeding your plants use either a specific tomato fertilizer or use fertilizers that are low in nitrogen, but high in superphosphate.

Although all of these solutions will help in some way to reduce the incidence of Blossom End Rot in tomato plants it is always best to try and avoid the conditions that promote it in the first place. By using good plant husbandry as outlined above you will hopefully never have a incidence to worry about controlling.

For related articles click onto the following links:
BLIGHT RESISTANT TOMATO SEEDS - Tomato 'Ferline'
BLIGHT RESISTANT TOMATO VARIETIES
HOW TO CONTROL BLACKFLY ON TOMATO PLANTS
HOW TO CONTROL BLOSSOM END ROT ON PEPPERS
HOW TO CONTROL GREENHOUSE WHITEFLY ON TOMATO PLANTS
HOW TO CONTROL MOSAIC VIRUS ON TOMATOES
HOW TO CONTROL RED SPIDER MITE ON TOMATO PLANTS
How to Grow Giant Tomatoes
RHS: BLOSSOM END ROT
WHAT IS TOMATO BLIGHT?

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