Help with BER and container mix ph and calcium

sharonrossyJuly 17, 2013

I'm looking for advice on how to correct ph levels in my container mix to prevent or stop BER. I ended up using pro-mix BX with hemlock mulch and I added lime, CRF, perlite and am using MG 24-8-16 when I water, a weak dose. I have added additional CRF because we had so much rain in June, now we have extreme heat and humidity.
I took a soil sample and its in the 7 range. I have found several plants with BER, cuor Di Bue, and now a Tasmanian Chocolate. Is the ph ok and if not, what do I need to do to correct it?
Sharon

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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

That pH sounds high. How much lime did you add when you made the mix? I think the Pro Mix might have already been pH adjusted, which could be one problem. All that said, I don't think the high pH is causing the BER. BER is caused by lack of mobile calcium in the plant. Carolyn and Al have both explained it well. Bottom line is that it usually clears up over time, but that's probably no consolation now. I don't have time to link you to their posts now, but if I have time tomorrow I will. This year I added some extra gypsum and occasionally add some calcium nitrate in the hopes of heading off BER. So far so good and no BER 'yet' on the small ones, but the jury is still out on the big ones.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 1:01AM
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fireduck(10a)

BER is often caused by erratic watering patterns. Often from getting dry in the pot...then sopped. Calcium can help. but this is a theory unproven. As stated above...it should clear up.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 10:09AM
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sharonrossy

Hi Ed and fireduck, I have read Al and Carolyn's posts. I am hoping that with this heat and constant watering, the ph level will go down by flushing out some of the lime if I have overdosed my plants. I did add gypsum the other day as I was told it adds calcium without altering ph levels. I'm still finding BER on some plants, but have tomatoes growing on the same plant with no signs of BER. So, it's wait and see. I have been careful not to let the plants get overly dry. But at this stage, I'm just going to be vigilant and wait.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 3:18PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Yeah, I tossed a few Red Brandywines from my SIP. Also like you, some tomatoes had it, but some that are almost ripe on same plant don't. Only one bad plant so far, but keeping my eyes open for others.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 12:49AM
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sharonrossy

So far I am still find BER on the cuor Di Bue plants but mostly the newer smaller fruit. These plants grew very fast and I didn't prune them. I'm wondering if I should remove some shoots to remove the stress of the plant in terms of calcium intake? I think I'm going to add more lime if it doesn't correct itself.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 7:55PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

I'm still getting new ber showing up on my sip, but none so far on my regular containers. I'm adding calcium nitrate, Texas Tomato Food, and dissolved gypsum to the reservior. Probably to no avail, but at least I feel like I'm doing something ;-).

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 9:14PM
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sharonrossy

To continue this saga I went out after the storm cleared a bit and found a few plants heavily leaning and stems bent from the high winds. I tied up what I could. I'll have a better idea in the morning of what I have to do. I'm going to need much more rope and stakes if I am going to keep all my plants from falling over. I'm pretty sure a few stems broke during the storm. What a bummer!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 11:13PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

We just got clocked with the same storm front that you did.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 12:21AM
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fireduck(10a)

I used a foliar spray to end BER. It seemed to work well and fast!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 3:33PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

What is the name of it?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 9:48PM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

In the FAQ section of the tomato forum it talks about BER and a possible foliar spray of calcium nitrate as being helpful. I happen to have some of that so I'm giving it a go. Have tossed probably 10 of my Red Brandywines, but the good news is that my first ripe one without BER is turning red.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2013 at 9:54PM
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sharonrossy

I applied lime as a top dressing and the CDB seem to have hopefully stopped with BER. Can't say if it was just time or lime, haha. Found some BER on the Tasmanian chocolate and a couple of Tims Black Ruffles. The TC could be a washout because I made the mistake of planting it in a 20 gallon pot with Gold Nugget, a determinant cherry which has completely overtaken the space.
So far the BW's are BERless but nothing ripe yet. I'm hoping bloody butcher will start to show some blush this week. Temps have definitely cooled down.
Let me know how you find the foliar spray works. Carolyn doesn't think it's effective, but I say go for it!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 9:00AM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Glad some of yours is getting better.

Well....I think I read her saying that it 'might' be effective in 'some' cases. So I'm hoping I'm one of the 'might' or 'some.' :-) Got nuttin' to lose.

This post was edited by edweather on Mon, Jul 22, 13 at 10:11

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 10:08AM
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sharonrossy

I say go for it. Just gave a weak fertilization and keeping my fingers crossed.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 3:24PM
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fireduck(10a)

E...I used Bonide "Rot-Stop". Maybe a coincidence??? dunno

    Bookmark   July 22, 2013 at 3:34PM
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