Uneven distribution of nutrients in the root zone affects the incidence of blossom end rot and concentration of calcium and potassium in fruits of tomato
Tabatabaie, S. J., Gregory, P. J. and Hadley, P. (2004) Uneven distribution of nutrients in the root zone affects the incidence of blossom end rot and concentration of calcium and potassium in fruits of tomato. Plant and Soil, 258 (1-2). pp. 169-178. ISSN 0032-079X
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Tomato plants ( Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. var. DRK) were grown hydroponically to determine the effect of an uneven distribution of nutrients in the root zone on blossomend rot (BER) and Ca and K concentrations in the fruits. The plants were grown in rockwool with their root system divided into two portions. Each portion was irrigated with nutrient solutions with either the same or the different electrical conductivity (EC) in the range 0 to 6 dS m(-1). Solutions with high EC supplied to both sides of the root system significantly increased the incidence of BER. However, when only water or a solution of low EC was supplied to one portion, BER was reduced by 80%. Fruit yields were significantly higher ( P < 0.01) for plants that received solutions of the uneven EC treatments (6/0 or 4.5/0 EC treatment). Plants supplied with solutions of uneven EC generally had higher leaf and fruit concentrations of Ca but lower concentrations of K than those supplied with solutions of high EC. There was no difference in Ca concentration at the distal end of young fruits of the uneven EC treatment but it was reduced in the high EC treatments. The concentration of K in the mature fruits of the uneven EC treatments was lower than that of the high EC treatments and higher or similar that of the 3/3 or 2.5/2.5 EC treatments ( controls). A clear relationship was found between the incidence of BER and the exudation rate. High rate of xylem exudation was observed in the uneven EC treatments. Reduction of BER in the uneven EC treatments is most likely to be the effect of high exudation rate on Ca status in the young fruits. It was concluded that high EC of solution had positive effects on Ca concentration and incidence of BER provided that nutrient solution with low EC or water is supplied to the one portion of the root system.