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Blossom End Rot

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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  southern gardener on 8/15/2013, 10:32 am

I'm just throwing this out there. My sister had BER really bad on her tomatoes. She's not really into gardening, but has one going and was happy with it until all of her tomatoes came down with BER. She didn't want to hassle getting the sprays etc (she's a BUSY mom). Before she went on vacation, she poured a gallon of spoiled milk on her tomatoes at the soil level. I asked her why she did this, she said, "just for the heck of it". When she came back from vacation 12 days later, her plants were loaded with tomatoes and NO BER!! So, don't know why it worked, or if that really was the fix, but she's happy now! LOL
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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  Triciasgarden on 8/15/2013, 11:32 am

If I get BER it is usually on the first one or two tomatoes, if they ripen at about the same time, and then the rest are fine. This is going by memory of past years. I didn't get any on my Fourth of July tomatoes. I just saw one on one of my other tomatoes, picked it quick and threw it into the compost pile. I should have written down which plant it came from. I haven't researched whether it continues on certain varieties.

Boffer your last article said that smaller fruited varieties are less affected. That is probably why my Fourth of July was not affected. Their fruits are barely larger than a large cherry tomato.

Great articles Boffer and Yolos!  I learned something new today!
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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  quiltbea on 8/15/2013, 12:39 pm

That doesn't look like BER to me.  BER is a dark spot on the bottom of the fruit that grows bigger but there's no gouges in the tomato.  I think that's something else.
BER usually clears up itself with the next growth of tomatoes.  Still, I always add Epsom salts and powdered Calcium-fortified milk to my planting hole at transplant time.  I'm happy to say no BER for me this year.
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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  CapeCoddess on 8/15/2013, 1:48 pm

I think I've read here that BER can occur when the plant not taking up enough calcium, which may be why the milk worked.  The only tomato I've had with it was a Beefsteak, and it was the first and only tom to have it.

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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  southern gardener on 8/15/2013, 5:42 pm

@CapeCoddess wrote:I think I've read here that BER can occur when the plant not taking up enough calcium, which may be why the milk worked.  The only tomato I've had with it was a Beefsteak, and it was the first and only tom to have it.

CC
When my sister showed me pics of her tomatoes, it was classic BER. She really doesn't enjoy gardening (yet) and I sort of talked her into it. So when the BER came up, and I told her what I read about correcting it, she said she was just going to let the tomatoes go. Then the night before her vacation she poured the milk on, thinking MAYBE the calcium in the milk might help, but she really didn't know or care at that point. When she returned all her plants were loaded! LOL love it!!
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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  sanderson on 5/10/2015, 8:10 pm

Bump.
I have a couple of early pastes with BER.

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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  camprn on 7/5/2015, 6:53 pm

Blossom End Rot...blargh!

Who's got it?

http://vegetablemdonline.ppath.cornell.edu/factsheets/Tomato_BlossRt.htm

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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  yolos on 7/5/2015, 7:26 pm

@camprn wrote:Blossom End Rot...blargh!

Who's got it?

http://vegetablemdonline.ppath.cornell.edu/factsheets/Tomato_BlossRt.htm

It comes and goes with my tomatoes.  I guess it is the uneven watering.  The gilberties are the worst, but that is true of most paste type tomatoes.  I love the taste of them so I keep planting them.
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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  camprn on 7/5/2015, 8:44 pm

My Gilberties are always fickle about watering early in the season and usually the first fruits have a touch of BER. It really does come down to the uneven water uptake...
This year I held off for an extra 2+ weeks to put my tomatoes in because the soil temp was so cool. I'm hoping the plants catch up soon.

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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  yolos on 7/5/2015, 9:21 pm

@camprn wrote:My Gilberties are always fickle about watering early in the season and usually the first fruits have a touch of BER. It really does come down to the uneven water uptake...
This year I held off for an extra 2+ weeks to put my tomatoes in because the soil temp was so cool. I'm hoping the plants catch up soon.
If the BER is not too bad, maybe 1/4 to 1/2 inch on the end, do you throw it away or do you cut off the bad spot and eat the rest.  I hated tossing out three of them today and I wondered on one that was barely damaged, if I could just cut off the end.
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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  sanderson on 7/5/2015, 9:30 pm

I cut off the bad area if the rest looks good.

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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  camprn on 7/5/2015, 11:00 pm

@yolos wrote:
@camprn wrote:My Gilberties are always fickle about watering early in the season and usually the first fruits have a touch of BER. It really does come down to the uneven water uptake...
This year I held off for an extra 2+ weeks to put my tomatoes in because the soil temp was so cool. I'm hoping the plants catch up soon.
If the BER is not too bad, maybe 1/4 to 1/2 inch on the end, do you throw it away or do you cut off the bad spot and eat the rest.  I hated tossing out three of them today and I wondered on one that was barely damaged, if I could just cut off the end.
usually on the Gilberties it's just the very tip, and I cut that off. If it involves half the piece of fruit I toss it into the compost.

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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  Marc Iverson on 7/6/2015, 12:15 pm

That's about my metric, a very casual one that relies a lot on the gross-out factor. But I often try to salvage what I can.
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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  Scorpio Rising on 7/6/2015, 7:05 pm

It could be, depends on the habit of the tomato.  I rely on bone meal for P & Ca++
and blood meal for N source.  And well composted material as well.  But for deficiencies, the meals are slow to release and cause no problems if no deficiency.  

I have cut off BER areas and taste does not seem to suffer.
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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  camprn on 7/6/2015, 8:56 pm

BER (blossom end rot) is usually a physiological result of inconsistent watering resulting in poor Ca uptake. There could be enough N-P-K-Mg-Ca, etc. in the growing medium, but if the watering is inconsistent or the pH has the minerals locked up, adding more stuff, that won't help the plant.

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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  yolos on 7/6/2015, 10:48 pm

Here is a very good explanation of BER written by a woman who is an expert on tomatoes and has written at least one book on tomatoes. 

http://forums.gardenweb.com/discussions/2243211/how-to-prevent-blossom-end-rot-next-year?n=8
The following is an excerpt from a thread on another forum discussing BER.
 

carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Blossom end rot has many causes. But the good news is that it ususally goes away as the plants mature and can better handle the many stresses that can induce it. It used to be thought that BER was due to a lack of calcium but research has shown that plants with BER fruits have plenty of calcium.

Here's a post I wrote about BER and perhaps it will help explain some of the issues:

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 because 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 except when the fruits are still small and green. If they did, just what do you think would happen to the fruits when it rained.LOL

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.

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 becasue they simply believe otherwise. So be it. LOL 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 rsearch re BER and Ca++.

Hope the above helps.

Carolyn
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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  Marc Iverson on 7/7/2015, 2:03 am

Very interesting, but I wonder about the reliability of her single source as compared to that of all the other sources that say different things about calcium. Especially if there has been so much research done in the last 20 years and it is so widely disseminated as a result of BER being a multi-billion-dollar problem, isn't it odd that the idea of calcium and BER having no relation is so infrequently promulgated by scientists, that textbooks and university sites remain unchanged, that this idea is not common knowledge?

I suspect that the answers she has may not be as definitive as she might think. Science is often thought of as a monolithic field characterized by unity, but it can be a hydra-headed beast when it comes to what the settled science really is. Asking one scientist or ten may indeed result in a definitive answer, but it may not be the definitive answer another scientist or another ten scientists would insist upon. I'm not sure if, when looking at her ideas about calcium and BER, we're looking at the iceberg itself or just the tip of the iceberg, unaware of the vastness of what we're not seeing. I can tell you that it doesn't match the university sites I've seen or a textbook I got last year put out by Oregon State University.

I think this issue might benefit from being looked on cautiously until it is clear just how much this lady's opinion matches the scientific consensus.
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3 reliable sources--calcium

Post  Scorpio Rising on 7/7/2015, 7:35 am

http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/hot_topics/2007/07blossomendrot.html

http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/3000/3117.html

http://www.aces.edu/dept/extcomm/specialty/ber.html

Interesting.
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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  quiltbea on 7/7/2015, 11:11 am

I always enjoy reading Marc Iverson's posts.  He must be a professor at heart.  His answers are always so eloquent.  And I'm not saying this in any derogatory or sarcastic manner.  I really think he writes so darn well.


As for me, I try to stop BER before it begins by adding a handful of powdered milk and a bit of Epsom Salts to the holes before I transplant.  So far, I've been lucky but that of course, could have lots to do with rain, weather, rate of growth, sunshine, etc as well.


I also know BER passes.  That happened to me in my community garden rows with a couple plants and after picking the ugly fruits to toss out, the next flush of fruits came in perfectly formed and delicious.

A gardener will continue to try to defeat their problems one way or another.
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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  boffer on 7/7/2015, 11:32 am

BER is one of those gardening topics where there is a lot of scientific research that's readily available.  And yet, the debate isn't resolved.  For every properly conducted research conclusion that claims adding calcium is helpful, there's one that claims it's not necessary.

Being the lazy gardener that I am, I'm a proponent of the latter.  I'm not doing the extra work if it's not necessary.  

My un-scientific, small sample size, confirmation bias influenced reasoning that adding calcium is not necessary:


  • A while back, I asked camprn if she could remember any forum member who's had a full blown attack of BER.  Neither of us remember one.

  • Perhaps calcium is lacking in some native soils; I don't know.  But I've paid attention to the lab soil test results that have been posted by members.  I haven't seen one that is lacking in calcium.

  • The complaints we see on the forum about BER, occur in the early part of a gardener's growing season, not later in the season.  That concurs with the research that shows cool weather limits calcium uptake, and that calcium uptake improves with warmer weather, and BER disappears.

  • The feedback from experienced members agrees with the scientists: some varieties are more susceptible to BER than others, and the addition of calcium doesn't change the physiology of the plant.

  • My weather is highly variable from year to year.  I've noticed that I get more BER in cool years, and less BER in hot years.  This is an unusually hot year for me, and I've had one tom with BER.  

  • I stagger plant my toms over a 5-6 week period.  If I get BER, it's always on the plants that were planted first, in cooler weather.

  • For me, a bad year for BER means that on 30-40 plants, I'll get 7-8 toms with BER.  And since I cut off the bad part and eat the rest, it's just not a big deal.

  • Any recommendation to add a calcium product that comes from a source who will financially benefit from the sale of the product, should be highly suspect. Marketers are more clever and deceptive than ever. Buyer beware.

  • Most of us do things in the garden for our own satisfaction, that have no influence on  our crops.  If adding calcium as a precaution makes a gardener feel good and sleep better, then that's what they should do.  If a gardener knows that they will have a gardening issue, such as SVBs on the east coast, then absolutely they should take preventative measures.  But for an issue that may or may not happen, especially an issue that is more of an annoyance than a crop destroyer, I prefer to wait to address it if and when it occurs.



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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  sanderson on 7/7/2015, 12:46 pm

@boffer wrote:

  • A while back, I asked camprn if she could remember any forum member who's had a full blown attack of BER.  Neither of us remember one.


wave smile Me, me! I'm still getting BER on Romas and San Marzanos. I added powdered milk to all the tomatoes about a month or so ago, and the weather is hot. At least I have tomatoes this year. Very Happy Just added some Espoma.

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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  camprn on 7/7/2015, 12:53 pm

Boffer, yup that about sums it up.

Sanderson, 4 weeks since adding milk and no improvement. This indicates that there are other stressor preventing the Ca uptake. Are your beds heavily mulched against the searing heat and potential moisture loss?

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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  yolos on 7/7/2015, 1:08 pm

Agree Boffer
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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  sanderson on 7/7/2015, 2:22 pm

The Mix dries out so fast whether in buckets or 6" boxes. I'm water with the hose in addition to the drips, sometimes twice a day. I could use more straw right now, though. Maybe I can chop up some tonight or tomorrow morning. Next summer I want to add another 2" to the height of the TT boxes so I can have deeper MM for this heat. PS The leaves are still curled upward, but they are producing.

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Re: Blossom End Rot

Post  Marc Iverson on 7/7/2015, 3:12 pm

@sanderson wrote:The Mix dries out so fast whether in buckets or 6" boxes. I'm water with the hose in addition to the drips, sometimes twice a day. I could use more straw right now, though. Maybe I can chop up some tonight or tomorrow morning. Next summer I want to add another 2" to the height of the TT boxes so I can have deeper MM for this heat. PS The leaves are still curled upward, but they are producing.

This "curled upward" and "straw" talk makes me think of the grazon thread ...
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Re: Blossom End Rot

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