The Q&A Archives: Tomato Blossom End Rot

Question: I really don't have the room to rotate crops. I do, however, plant about 18 Celebrity tomato plants each year. I have added considerable Gypsum to the soil and add 4 bags of steer manure to each 16 ft row and till it in. The plants look beautiful. I use drip irrigation ( 1 gal per hr ) drip buttons, 1 per plant and water 4 time per day, for 5 minutes each time. This is about 1/3 gal per day. It seems to take that much to keep the plants from wilting.
I have started pinching the tomatoes green to reduce the end rot problem....any ideas?

Answer: Blossom end rot is a physiological condition caused by a lack of calcium at the growing tip of the fruit. While soil may have adequate calcium, fluctuations in soil moisture content from dry to wet really increase the incidence of blossom end rot. It is especially bad on the early fruit each summer and in sandy soils.

The damage occurs as cells die at the tip of the fruit. In time (and as the fruit grows) the spots enlarge and turn black. So, by the time you see it, the damage actually has already occurred some time back.

Remedies include: having a soil test to make sure calcium levels are adequate, adding organic matter to a sandy soil to increase its moisture holding capacity, keeping plants evenly moist, especially during the development of the first fruits (mulch helps maintain soil moisture), and spraying plants with a Blossom End Rot spray (contains calcium) which can usually be purchased from your local garden center.

Don't wait until you see it to spray with Blossom End Rot spray. If you have an annual problem with blossom end rot, treat when the fruit reaches marble size. However, usually the other cultural practices will control the problem without the need for spraying.

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