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How can a calcium deficiency in plants be prevented?


Blossom end rootCalcium 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 where ever the element first arrived. Even, when a clear calcium deficiency 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 a calcium deficiency in your crop. 

Calcium deficiency

The risk for a calcium deficiency 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 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

Blossom end root is a reaction caused by a calcium deficiency 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, 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) 

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