Effects of Calcium on Yield and Incidence of Blossom-end Rot of Three Tomato Cultivars

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  • 1 1Dept. of Plant & Soil Sciences, The Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37901-1071
  • | 2 2Hort. Crops Quality Lab., USDA-ARS, Beltsville, MD 20705

An experiment was conducted to investigate the effect of Ca nutrition on yield and incidence of blossom-end rot (BER) in tomato. Three levels of Ca (low = 20 ppm, medium = 200 ppm, and high = 1,000 ppm; selected to represent very deficient, normal, and very high levels of calcium) were applied to three cultivars of tomatoes (`Mountain Supreme', `Celebrity', and `Sunrise'; selected to represent genetic differences in susceptibility to BER) grown in modified Hoagland solutions using a greenhouse hydroponic system. The experiment was constructed in a randomized complete-block design with three blocks, two replications, three cultivars, and three calcium treatments. The source of basic nutrients was a 5–11–26 soluble fertilizer containing micronutrients. The ratio of N–P–K was adjusted to 1.0–1.3–3.0 by adding NH4NO3 (34% N). Calcium was added as CaCl2. Nitrogen concentrations were maintained at 30 (first month), 60 (second month), and 90 ppm (during fruit growth), while the concentration of other nutrients followed proportionally. Cultivars differed significantly in yield and average fruit weight but not in incidence of BER or leaf Ca concentration. There was no cultiva × calcium treatment interaction. Leaf Ca content across cultivars was increased by 34% and 44%, respectively, by the medium and high Ca treatments. Average fruit weight and total yield per plant were not significantly different between the low and medium Ca treatments, however, both were reduced by the high Ca treatment. Incidence of BER was 95% higher in the low rather than in the medium Ca treatment. There was no significant difference in BER between the medium and high Ca treatments.

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