greenthumbberwyn
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bottom end rot on my tomatoes

Hi,
I have had issues this year and last with ber on my tomatoes. Every year we have home made compost, and chicken manure rototilled into the garden well before planting, I added fast acting lime. They have not been over or under watered. I tested the soil and the ph is 7.0 , the nitgrogen is high, phosphorous is high. There is plenty of calcium in the soil because there are a years worth of egg shells, we eat a lot and I bake.

I added fast acting gypsum and add some peat moss with the hope that the fast acting gypsum would help the calcium get into the fruit and the peat moss to lower the ph of the soil a bit.

Any thoughts I am frustrated at losing my tomato crop after all the time and effort.

Hannah
Last edited by greenthumbberwyn on Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bri80
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Re: bottom end rot on my tomatoes

I'm not sure eggshells would be enough, and don't know how long "fast-acting" lime will take to help.

But there is a foliar spray available for BER that delivers calcium quickly and helped me save some tomatoes one year when I was growing them in pots. I'm sorry I can't remember the brand name, but my local garden center had it - yours might have it or a similar foliar spray.
Last edited by bri80 on Thu Jul 13, 2017 11:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

greenthumbberwyn
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Re: bottom end rot on my tomatoes

I heard about a spray but read that the problem is getting the calcium through the root system with the water. How does the spray work---I didn't think calcium would be absorbed into the leaves. Thank you for your thoughts. I will look further for the spray.

bri80
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Re: bottom end rot on my tomatoes

Yes, ideally you have enough calcium in the soil that is being readily absorbed through the roots and BER never becomes a problem. However, if BER is currently a problem it may be too late for that and feeding the plant calcium via foliar spray helps.

imafan26
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Re: bottom end rot on my tomatoes

The problem is not really about nutrients in the soil, but nutrient transport in the plants. It sound like you have enough nutrients in the soil. It doesn't matter if you have enough calcium in the soil if it isn't making it to the top of the plant.
BER is more related to uneven watering and uneven growth of the plants. When days are longer and warmer the growing tips grow faster than the ability of the plant to transport water from the roots to the top of the plant. Uneven watering aggravates that because there has to be enough water to do the transporting and when it is hot, windy and dry the plant loses water fast and ends up wilting in the middle of the day.

If the growing tips of the plants cannot get enough calcium, it steals it from the fruit and that is why blossom end rot occurs.

Variety seems to have a lot to do with it and the size of the fruit. Larger fruited vines have more problem with BER than small fruited ones. Small fruited cherries also tolerate heat better. The heat tolerant varieties as a whole have less problems with BER. I have very few problems with BER when tomatoes are planted in SIPS and the reservoir never runs dry, and I do not add more lime to the SIP. I use 1/2 cup of tomato food to start and I supplement a tablespoon at 4 weeks and 6 weeks and every month for the life of the plant.

The directions say to add 3 cups organic or 2 cups synthetic fertilizer and lime in a strip. I did that the first time and the tomatoes grew well but I had a lot of unused fertilizer in the SIP afterwards. I don't have that with the side dressings and I end up using about the same amount of fertilizer.

Try SIPs, they are guaranteed to water evenly if the reservoir never goes dry. My SIP had a 5 gallon reservoir because the larger vines could drink up to 4 gallons of water a day easily in the middle of summer. I did not have trouble with midday wilting either. I have a minimum of 10 gallons of soil, but 15 gallons would be better.

Try planting heat resistant tomatoes or cherries in the hottest months, they don't have nearly as much problems with BER.

You can also try planting your problem varieties under shade cloth. The vines will be taller with longer internodes but fewer fruit to stress the plants. If you trellis your vines and prune them you will have larger fruit on the stem and fewer leaves to have to support. You will also need to have the shade cloth since you will have fewer leaves to protect the fruit from the sun.
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pepperhead212
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Re: bottom end rot on my tomatoes

As imafan26 noted, variety has a lot to do with this. And SIPs are usually very good, but if it is a BER prone variety, the first several fruits will still get it, despite watering being constant, and having the dolomite in them, plus the calcium nitrate "snack" I give them weekly. I got two new varieties this happened with this year. Just check for them, and pull off the bad ones, and wait for it to stop. A favorite variety of mine - Sweet Carneros Pink - would get it on the first 10 or so (!) in the ground, and still get it on the first 2 or 3 in an SIP! Yet, once it settled in, would never get it again. Yet a couple varieties just kept getting it on every fruit, (Salsa was one), and I'd eventually pull them.

And, as imafan noted, if you do use SIPs in the future, get (or make) the ones with larger reservoirs. I have some in the true Earthboxes - 2 plants with just 2 gal reservoirs, and even filling it twice a day didn't do it - I had to switch the timer to every 8 hours, to keep them from drying out. The ones I made, are OK with every 12 hours, given the 4-5 gal reservoirs.
Dave

imafan26
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Re: bottom end rot on my tomatoes

When plants are young and growing and also flowering and making fruit, that is when you will most likely have issues with BER. You can reduce the fruit load while the plant is still growing and make sure the plant is watered and fed enough. It might help reduce BER if the plant parts are not competing for nutrients. As I said, pruning does help by removing suckers that require diversion of resources, but some varieties will still be more prone to BER. Larger fruit more so than medium ones in the 8-10 oz range.
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applestar
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Re: bottom end rot on my tomatoes

Yep. I was going to say "variety" also. What ARE the varieties you are growing?
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Gary350
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Re: bottom end rot on my tomatoes

I buy pellet lime 20 lb. bag is $5 at Farm Co-op it seems to work best for BER and is long lasting.

I put wood ash in my compose it contains a lot of lime and works very well for BER.

I use to save egg shells for a whole year then put them in the hole when i planted tomatoes and tomatoes had BER anyway.

Scrap drywall pieces, drywall mud, gypson works too but makes my tomatoes gritty like they have very fine sand in them.

Baking Soda works too but it is not long lasting.

Cement works too mix a quart of cement in 5 gallons of water let it set 5 days before you water your plants with it or you will have dead plants.

I usually plant 6 varieties of tomatoes each year no matter what weather does I have certain plants that may do better than others but I did not do that this year. We like Beef steak type tomatoes and had very good luck with Big Beef last year so 20 of my plants are Big Beef. We had none stop rain for 4 months I could not plant like usually so I stuck my tomato plants in the mud and they did good but I did not give any of the plants lime or fertilizer. I was having a small BER problem it was gone in 2 days after giving all the plants pellet lime.

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Allyn
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Re: bottom end rot on my tomatoes

As previous posters have said, it doesn't matter if there is enough calcium in the soil, inconsistent watering can still cause BER. Also, if you go to SiPs, be aware that if the soil gets too warm, the plant can't absorb the calcium out of the growing medium, so even if the nutrient levels in the medium are perfect and the SiP provides consistent water, the plant can still get BER if the pot gets too warm and subsequently, the medium in the pot warms up too much. That also could happen if you planted the tomato plant in a furrow (instead of planting it deeper) to allow for a stronger root system along the stem, but the soil is getting too warm in the shallow 'ditch'. Mulch good to try to keep the soil as cool as you can so it doesn't get too warm.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: bottom end rot on my tomatoes

and variety ... (again). I had never even seen BER until this year when I grew Roma tomatoes for the first time. It turns out that the non-round tomatoes are much more susceptible to it. My Roma plant is growing in the same bed with the exact same treatment as two round tomato plants and they have not had any BER.

But the Romas just had a few BER tomatoes early on and seem to have outgrown it. That can happen.
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