Nitrogen Nutrition of Greenhouse Pepper. I. Effects of Nitrogen Concentration and NO3: NH4 Ratio on Yield, Fruit Shape, and the Incidence of Blossom-end Rot in Relation to Plant Mineral Composition

in HortScience
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  • 1 Agricultural Research Organization, The Volcani Center, P.O. Box 6, Bet Dagan 50250, Israel

Blossom-end rot (BER) is one of the major physiological disorders of green-house bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.). The objective of the present work was to study the effects of the solution N concentration and N-NO3: N-NH4 ratio on fruit yield and the incidence of BER and other fruit-quality traits of greenhouse-grown bell pepper in a Mediterranean climate. Three experiments were conducted: Expt. 1 included five total N concentrations (0.25 to 14 mmol·L-1, with a constant N-NO3: N-NH4 ratio of 4); Expt. 2 included five treatments of different NO3: NH4 molar ratios (0.25 to 4, with a constant N concentration of 7 mmol·L-1); and Expt. 3 included three treatments of different NO3: NH4 molar ratios (1.0, 3.0 and 9.0, with a constant N concentration of 7 mmol·L-1). Plants were grown in an aero-hydroponics system in Expts. 1 and 2 and in tuff medium in Expt. 3, in greenhouses in Israel. The optimal values of N concentration for total fruit yield and for high fruit quality (marketable) were 9.3 and 8.3 mmol·L-1, respectively. The total and high-quality fruit yields both increased with increasing N-NO3: N-NH4 ratio in the range studied. The total and high-quality fruit yields both decreased sharply as the NH4 concentration in the solution increased above 2 mmol·L-1. The increase in the NH4 concentration in the solution is the main cause of the suppression of Ca concentration in the leaves and fruits and the increased incidence of BER. The occurrence of flat fruits also increased with increasing NH4 concentration in the solution.

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