Disease of the Month - Blossom End Rot

  Hort Snacks - July 2017
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 Crops Affected: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant

Disease Cycle / Conditions Favouring Disease Development:

  • Not caused by a pathogen
  • Physiological disorder caused by a localized deficiency of calcium in the fruit
  • Typically linked to growing conditions that result in uneven and/or interrupted uptake of calcium
    • Drought, hot/dry conditions and/or fluctuations in water supply
    • Other factors can also influence incidence of BER
      • Rapid plant growth
      • High soil nitrogen and magnesium levels
      • Saline soils
      • Root damage
      • High relative humidity
  • Not necessarily related to soil-available levels of calcium, merely the ability of the plant to take up sufficient calcium to meet developing fruit needs
  • Often starts on younger fruit (1/3 developed), but symptoms may develop on any stage of fruit development
  • Light brown patches appear at the blossom end of the fruit, or occasionally on the sides
    • Over time, patches darken and become sunken as tissues die
    • Sunken areas can affect as much as half of the fruit
  • Tissues may be infected by secondary pathogens, resulting in fruit rots
Photo by hort.uwex.edu/articles/blossom-end-rot/

  • Ensure that plants maintain a healthy, even growth and steady uptake of water
    • Irrigation will allow water availability to be more consistent
  • Avoid root damage and encourage strong and deep root growth
    • Ensure that root development and health is maintained to ensure that the plant is able to take up calcium as needed
  • Practices that promote moisture conservation in the soil (e.g. mulches) can be beneficial towards reducing BER
  • If calcium levels are insufficient or in question, the application of calcium-rich fertilizers or amendments, or the application of foliar calcium prior to symptom development can be effective
    • On the Canadian prairies, the majority of soils were derived from calcium-rich parent materials, therefore deficiencies in soil calcium are unusual
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Robert Spencer.
This information published to the web on June 29, 2017.