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How can a calcium deficiency in plants be prevented?

Calcium deficiency
Written by Jaap Lubbersen | Laatste update: 31-12-2020

Calcium is an essential element for a plant’s growth. It serves a very important role in the cell division and creates a strong plant, because calcium supports both the cell-walls and cell membranes. Calcium is not a mobile element, which means that it will stay wherever the element first arrived. Even, when a clear calcium deficiency in plants is remarked. Therefore, in the vegetative phase, it is very important to have a sufficient amount of calcium in the plant’s root environment. In this article, our fertilizing specialist gives an explanation on how to prevent and fix calcium deficiency in plants.

Calcium deficiency in plants

The risk for calcium deficiency in plants is the largest, with rapid growth of the plant. This generally happens in periods with high temperatures, high evaporation and low root pressure. The majority of the water is transported to the leafs, instead of the fruits, leading to an insufficient concentration of calcium in the leafs. 

Results of a calcium deficiency

Calcium deficiencies in plants are usually found in the least evaporating parts of the plant. It could have several consequences:
  • Immature plants (e.g. small flowers)
  • Glassy spots in the young leafs, fruits or flowers
  • Edges of the leafs deceasing
  • Blossom end root

Blossom end root

What causes calcium deficiency in plants? Blossom end root is a reaction caused by a calcium deficiency in the plant or an excessive amount of salt in the soil or substrate. One crop is more sensitive to blossom end root, than the other. Tomato, bell pepper, zucchini, eggplant, pepper and pumpkin are crops with a high risk for blossom end root. This particular indication of a calcium deficiency, starts developing at the bottom of the fruit and can be recognized when yellow/brown/black spots appear on the fruits. It does not necessarily has to be combined with damage on the leafs or stalks. 

Attention: Do not confuse blossom end root with the mycosis Phytophthora. This does not only result in damage on the fruits, but also on stalks, clusters and leafs. 

Prevent blossom end root

Fortunately, blossom end root can be prevented in various ways. It can be done by adding extra calcium or chalk to the crop, and by making sure the plant’s soil or substrate remains humid in times of heat. This, because in case of a shortage of water, plants will get it from the fruits. Several other tips to make sure blossom end root is prevented: 
  • Try to limit the evaporation of the plant. Do this, by shading some of the (sun)light, maintain a good temperature and the correct humidity in the air. In order to decrease evaporation of the crop, some of the leafs can  be plucked. 
  • Make sure there is enough root pressure, so that the calcium can be transported to the plant's growth points. 
  • Do not let the EC increase too much. As mentioned above, the excess amount of salt could lead to blossom end root. 
Attention: Do not remove the fruits infected with blossom end root before ripened, because it could affect the number of fruits on the plants. 

Calcium surplus

Besides a calcium deficiency in plants, the occurrence of a surplus of calcium in your crop, is also a possibility. This could have the following effects:
  • Slow/delayed growth of the plant
  • Obstruction of the intake of other elements (especially iron and magnesium)

More information about calcium in plants

Do you have any questions about calcium in plants and how to prevented, or would you like advice? Then contact one of our crop care specialists, or ask your question using the form below. We'll respond within 24 hours on working days.

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Jaap Lubbersen About Jaap Lubbersen

Jaap Lubbersen is an internal crop care product specialist at Royal Brinkman and has had over 13 years of experience in glass horticulture. "As an internal product specialist, I deal with growers' issues on a daily basis. Every time again it is a challenge to seek the proper solution, in cooperation with the grower, whether it is about healthy and vibrant cultivation, legislation or safety."

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