The Q&A Archives: Blossom End Rot

Question: What causes our watermelons to shrivel and rot from the blossom end?

Answer: There are several factors which can lead to blossom end rot: insufficient available calcium in the soil, rapid early season growth followed by extended dry period, excessive rain which smothers root hairs, excessive soil salts which "lock up" calcium uptake (usually caused by a fertilizer which is too high in nitrogen or is applied too often and nitrogen builds up), and, cultivating too close to the plant which kills rootlets. Keep blossom end rot at bay by providing uniform soil moisture, avoid high nitrogen fertilizers (and, follow application rates carefully no matter what you use), plant in well drained soil, and, when cultivating within 1' of the plant, do not cultivate deeper than 1". When fertilizing, look for a reliable brand, high in calcium or an amendment such as lime, gypsum, or bone meal will help.

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