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Blossom-End Rot?

Posted by classygal99 VA (My Page) on
Fri, Jul 4, 14 at 9:17

We had a bad storm last week and my plant feel over on the ground for a couple days while I was out on vacation. I will admit they were poorly supported. I recently re-staked the plant and that's when I saw the picture below on 3 tomatoes. What should/can I do now? Is the plant done for, will it only produce more blossom-end rotted tomatoes? Side Note: I'm not sure if this helps or not, but this plant is either Big boy or Rutgers, I can't remember which one it is.

Thanks for your help!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Blossom-End Rot?

Blossom-end rot is a temporary, early-season problem. Cut off these particular fruit: no point in having the plant waste energy and resources on them.

But in all likelihood, these will be the last fruit with BER that you'll see this year.


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RE: Blossom-End Rot?

There is a FAQ and hundreds of discussions here about BER that the search will pull up for you to read. The actual causes of the problem are discussed in detail in all.

But the simple answer is no your plants are not "done for". Given their size the BER likely started before the storm last week so check out the causes.

Simply remove the fruit showing the BER symptoms and if none of the causes discussed in the FAQ continue all the later fruit will be fine.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: BER FAQ


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RE: Blossom-End Rot?

Dave, I noticed yesterday that the first BER FAQ (the one you linked) recommends foliar calcium sprays for BER.

The one which I assumed was written by GW members is the second one (with the photo). However, the second one doesn't list authors, which makes me wonder if perhaps it's not the original version of that FAQ.

Also, the second is non-judgmental about such "treatments" as crushed egg shells, etc.


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RE: Blossom-End Rot?

Since I started putting crushed egg shells into my tomato and pepper plants, I have had no issues with blossom end rot. Not even one single solitary time. So I think they work with no need for scare quotes. :) But I'd be interested in any scientific study of the issue if that exists!

Angie


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RE: Blossom-End Rot?

"But I'd be interested in any scientific study of the issue if that exists!"

Here's a couple links. Maybe you'll find what you're looking for in them. Things can get pretty heated when it comes to this subject.

using eggshells

Fertilizers/Coffee Grounds/Egg Shells/Banana Peels

Rodney


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RE: Blossom-End Rot?

Thank you for posting these, Rodney. I really appreciate that and they are interesting to read. But at the end of the day, reading a bunch of different opinions does not resolve the issue. Maybe that's why the issue tends to get heated.

I'd really like to see some actual science on this. For example, it is often said that hot peppers become hotter when watered less. But lots of people say that isn't true. Discussions about this question can also get heated (no pun intended). But the issue has been studied in controlled, peer reviewed scientific experiments like the one I'm linking to right now. It turns out that reducing a plants water supply DOES make it hotter--at least for habanero peppers.

In the case of tomatoes (and peppers), I believe that egg shells do prevent blossom end rot. They break down fairly quickly in soil and, I think they release calcium into the soil. I have not had problems with blossom end rot since I started doing it.

On the other hand, I started doing it after moving to my current home where the water supply is rich in calcium. So maybe it's not the egg shells. Maybe it's the water. Maybe it's something else.

Similarly, having a bunch of other people chime in with their opinions, even professional gardeners, will not resolve the issue. Who knows why they have or do not have blossom end rot? Maybe it's because of egg shells. Maybe it's because of something else they may not even know about.

So that's why I ask if there is any actual science on the issue. I love blending folklore and science in my approach to gardening. So I'd love to know whether I'm doing something scientifically sound. I think it would be fun to know and it might just help resolve the heated egg shell disputes. :)

Angie

Here is a link that might be useful: Water Deficit Affects the Accumulation of Capsaicinoids in Fruits of Capsicum Chinense


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RE: Blossom-End Rot?

Angie,

Regarding the egg shells, I understand that they take a long time to break down. If you've been adding them for years, the calcium probably IS available to the plants by now.

Since we eat a lot of eggs, I've been saving my shells, washing and grinding them and sprinkling them around my tomato plants at planting time. Even if they don't do a thing for my plants, I know that worms need calcium for their gizzards, and my garden is teeming with (happy) worms who are adding their castings to the soil.

Linda


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RE: Blossom-End Rot?

Following Rodney's kindly provided links, I've found something new to me and now I could use some help.

Quote:
Use nitrate nitrogen as the fertilizer nitrogen source. Ammoniacal nitrogen may increase blossom-end rot as excess ammonium ions reduce calcium uptake. Avoid over-fertilization as side dressings during early fruiting, especially with ammoniacal forms of nitrogen.

Examples of nitrate and ammoniacal fertilizers commonly used by the home gardener ???

Here is a link that might be useful: The Ohio State University Extension


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RE: Blossom-End Rot?

I've posted this many times here at GW and I do think it will help clarify some of the above comments.

&&&&&&

Blossom End Rot (BER) is one of the most common tomato problems seen in the early part of the season. It is a physiological condition, not a disease caused by a fungus or a bacterium or a virus. Therefore it cannot be treated.

And as I'll explain below, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to
prevent. BER has nothing to do with the blossoms, it refers to the fact that at the end of the tomato opposite the place where the tomato is attached to the stem, called the stem end, is the bottom of the tomato, which is called the blossom end. You often can see remnants of the blossom attached to that end as the tomato forms. At the blossom end one sees a flattened area that looks
leathery and initially brown and then black, as the fruit rots.

BER is said to occur when there is uneven watering, drought, heavy rainfall, excessive nitrogen fertilization, rapid plant growth or root pruning during cultivation, high winds and rapid temperature changes. So lots of conditions have been associated with BER. But the rapid plant growth and nitrogen fertilization are both common to conditions seen early in the season, and indeed, that is when most BER occurs. Then it usually just goes away.

BER occurs because under the conditions just stated, Ca++ moves from the fruit into the vasculature (stems) of the plant. Or, some feel that Ca++ never reaches the fruits becasue under stress demand for Ca++ exceeds supply.This lowered amount of Ca++ is what causes BER. Excessive rates of transpiration (kind of like sweating in humans) also is involved in Ca++ displacement. Thus, the plant as a whole is NOT Ca++ deficient, the Ca++ has just been displaced.

Many books and magazine articles tell you that by adding Ca++ in the form of lime or eggshells, for instance, that you can prevent BER. That does NOT appear to be true. It was several years ago that I found out that University field trial experiments have so far failed to show that BER can be prevented by addition
of Ca++. I recently e-mailed my friend at Cornell who told me all this two years ago, to again confirm that it was still true, and will update you, if necessary. Peppers and many cole crops are also susceptible to BER and there's quite a bit of literature on BER and Ca++ for those crops also. The results are the same; addition of Ca++ does not prevent BER.

Some data strongly suggests that foliar spraying with Ca++ is of no use because not enough gets to the fruits to do any good. And it's known that the sprays for fruits that are sold are usless. No molecules can get across the fruit epidermis. If they did, just what do you think would happen to the fruits when it rained.LOL Spraying small immature fruits has worked for some.

Not all varieties of tomatoes get BER. Some never do, others are horrible. That's not surprising since certainly there are slight physiological differences between varieties. After all, almost all garden tomatoes, with the exception of the currant tomatoes are in the same genus and species, Solanum lycopersicum. And we humans are all in the same species, Homo sapiens, var. sapiens...and look how different some of our physiologies are.
Whoa!

So, BER is a physiological condition, cannot be cured, and current
literature data suggests it cannot be prevented. It occurs on some, but not all varieties of tomatoes, is usually seen early in the season and then stops, for most folks. It would be nice to say that you could even out your watering, prevent droughts and heavy rainfalls, ensure even and not rapid growth of plants and not disturb the roots by shallow cultivating. But on a practical basis, I think we all know that's almost impossible. So, BER has never bothered me, I just ignore it, and it goes away with time.

Adding Ca++ to soils that are Ca++ deficient makes sense, but few soils are. And if soils are acidic, Ca++ is not taken up well but addition of Epsom Salts to the soil can aid in Ca++ uptake in such acidic soils.

There's also a condition called Internal BER where there are no indications of BER on the exterior, but when you cut open the fruits the inside is black.

Many folks add Ca++ and then see that BER disappears. What they fail to realize is that BER is going to go away anyway, as the season progresses. And that's because as the plants get larger they are better able to handle the many stresses that can induce it. So one cannot correlate addition of Ca++ to disappearance of BER. Universities have done so many stidies on this already
because BER is a billion dollar problem in the commercial veggie industry.

Of all the stresses that can induce BER the two that are most under control of the home gardener are fertilization and water delivery.

That is, too much fertilizer causes plants to grow too rapidly and is perhaps one of the major causes of BER developing. Too rich soils do the same thing. Plant growth simply outstrips the ability of Ca++ to get to the fruits.

Mulching to help ensure even delivery of water also can be done and is also one of the two major causes, IMHO, of BER.

BER appears usually on half ripe fruits but also can appear on grass green ones.Lack of Ca++ only occurs at the blossom end of the fruit and it causes tissue destruction which leads to that papery greyish/blackish lesion appearing.Now sometimes that lesion opens up and fungi and bacteria enter and that causes the rotting and also the appearance of fungal growth on and in the lesion.

Just pick off any BER fruits that appear and soon the next fruits to ripen will BERless.

Many books, magazine articles and websites still say to add Ca++ as lime, eggshells, etc, and seem not to be aware of all the research that has been done in the last 20 years. But many books, magazine articles, are now sharing this newer information about addition of Ca++ not being able to either prevent or cure BER except in rare situations of low Ca++ soils or acidic soils.

I suppose it will take another generation for the right information to be present everywhere. And from my own experience i can tell you that there will be folks who will get madder than can be when they read this kind of info because they simply believe otherwise. So be it. Addition of modest amounts of Ca++ aren' t harmful, but I feel strongly that folks should know what's going on with past and current research re BER and Ca++.

Hope the above helps.

Carolyn


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RE: Blossom-End Rot?

Thank you, Carolyn! This is why you are my favorite GW tomato expert! :)

Do you happen to have any references for the BER studies you discuss above? I'm kind of geeky in that I actually enjoy reading these sorts of scientific things . . . .

Angie


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RE: Blossom-End Rot?

SUMMARY:

BER: We can talk about it but nobody can do anything about it.


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RE: Blossom-End Rot?

Angie, probably some references in my faves, which is 2500, and so every time I have to add a new one, I go back and delete maybe 10 more. And I don't want to go back and skim through the list either since I'm just starting writing a FAQ for another message site on how to save seeds,

The first article I wrote about BER was back in the mid-90s, and I've had to update several times. And over time one can click on a link and it has gone. The one I miss the most is the one where they found that plants that had BER fruits had normal levels of Ca++ in the vasculature of the plant.

Another place to look to confirm what I wrote above are the several good state disease sites, such as TAMU and Cornell, and NC and FL and several more. The better places incorporate new info on a regular basis, based on info that their disease specialists find, by reading scientific papers ahem,

And please don't refer to yourself as a geek, b'c that makes me a geek, if you look at my bio here since my whole professional life I had to read tons of scientific papers. LOL

I know my answer is not as specific as you would like, but if you also Google BER ( spell it out and add tomatoes to your entry) at the top of the first Google page you will usually see scentific articles listed seperately.

I'll let you do that if you want to and get back here and report back. LOL

Carolyn


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RE: Blossom-End Rot?

Wrong again Seysonn when you say that nothing can be done about BER,,

I posted above:

(Of all the stresses that can induce BER the two that are most under control of the home gardener are fertilization and water delivery.

That is, too much fertilizer causes plants to grow too rapidly and is perhaps one of the major causes of BER developing. Too rich soils do the same thing. Plant growth simply outstrips the ability of Ca++ to get to the fruits.

Mulching to help ensure even delivery of water also can be done and is also one of the two major causes, IMHO, of BER.)

Carolyn, who cut andpasted just a bit, but you might want to consider going back and reading the whole post if BER is aproblem for you.


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RE: Blossom-End Rot?

Carolyn, You said :

>>>So, BER is a physiological condition, cannot be cured, and current
literature data suggests it cannot be prevented. It occurs on some, but not all varieties of tomatoes, is usually seen early in the season and then stops, for most folks. It would be nice to say that you could even out your watering, prevent droughts and heavy rainfalls, ensure even and not rapid growth of plants and not disturb the roots by shallow cultivating. But on a practical basis, I think we all know that's almost impossible. So, BER has never bothered me, I just ignore it, and it goes away with time. <<<<

You clearly said in the above paragraph :
"""and current literature data suggests IT CANNOT BE PREVENTED "

So you said, it is a physiological condition, ... IT CANNOT BE PREVENTED and IT CANNOT BE CURED.

Now you are saying :

>>>Wrong again Seysonn when you say that nothing can be done about BER,, <<<<

well, I am confused. Maybe I'll go ahead and apply egg shells. hehe


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RE: Blossom-End Rot?

The same people that touted spraying the plants with calcium 10 years ago are probably the same ones now saying that calcium sprays do not work.
I will continue to spray my plants early on with calcium, because my experience shows that it prevents BER.


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RE: Blossom-End Rot?

Cannot be cured is correct.

And thanks for pointing out that I should have said often can not be prevented. I'll fix that next time I post that article.

And now I go back to what I cut and pasted above about what home growers can do to help prevent it:

(Of all the stresses that can induce BER the two that are most under control of the home gardener are fertilization and water delivery.

That is, too much fertilizer causes plants to grow too rapidly and is perhaps one of the major causes of BER developing. Too rich soils do the same thing. Plant growth simply outstrips the ability of Ca++ to get to the fruits.

Mulching to help ensure even delivery of water also can be done and is also one of the two major causes, IMHO, of BER.)

Carolyn, who also suggests if you want to try eggshells, be sure to use those from those chickens that lay pastel colored eggs. ( wink)


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RE: Blossom-End Rot?

ncrealestate, I posted above:

(Some data strongly suggests that foliar spraying with Ca++ is of no use because not enough gets to the fruits to do any good. )

I said some data, not all data, and there is some data from a few that says it does work, probably in some areas, in some seasons based on the weather.

So if it works for you, then keep on using it.

Carolyn, who knows the topography of NC quite well since her brother and family moved there in 2005 and three of her best tomato friends live there as well. My brother lives just north of Asheville, in the mountains and the other three live nearer to Raleigh on flatland. And enough to know that there are many different microclimates in NC as well, and a beautiful state it is.


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RE: Blossom-End Rot?

I will continue to spray my plants early on with calcium,

%%%
I did that just couple of days ago. I Brewed my own "Calcium acetate" solutions and sprayed all my tomatoes and peppers with it. Not for BER in particular but generally give them a quick dose of calcium. I am not growing any BER prone tomatoes like Roma and San Marzano. Some of my peppers had BER though.


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RE: Blossom-End Rot?

I changed things up this year, and for the first time have no BER. I planted only Better Boys, and since they were slow growing at first, I planted rather late in a spot that years ago had been a compost heap for yard clippings and leaves. It was very dry soil, so I watered every other day at first. When the plants were a good foot or two tall, I whirled crushed egg shells from one or two dozen eggs in water and poured it on my 4 plants. I have always had BER on the early crop, but not this year. Since we live in the coastal southern California dry climate, I control the water. Just harvesting the Better Boys, and I am not impressed with the texture and flavor of the first few.


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RE: Blossom-End Rot?

Here is my two cents:

I don't quite believe the idea of adding eggshell to supplement calcium.
1) It needs the soil to be acidic to dissolve calcium carbonate in eggshell into soluble forms for plants to absorb. So if the soil is very close to 7 or above, they will remain solid and plants won't use it.
2) Soil should have a lot calcium. Calcium is an abundant element.
3) Natural water has a LOT calcium. Even in tape water, there are about 50 microgram of calcium per liter. Natural water has MUCH more.
4) If I wanted to add eggshell to soil, I probably will soak it with venegar first to dissolve some eggshells. I tend to think it takes forever for nature to dissolve eggshells.


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