These crimson, juicy tomatoes gardeners dream about all summer time are the most recent victims of Maine’s ongoing drought situations.
Growers across the state are discovering ripening tomatoes on their vines that look excellent, till they see the bottom of the fruit is brown, black and comfortable. The identical can be occurring to eggplants and peppers.
The offender is a dysfunction known as blossom finish rot, based on an agriculture knowledgeable, and the issue began earlier than the fruit even appeared. And whereas the greens might look unappealing, they aren’t inedible, and there may be nonetheless a chance for Maine gardeners to take motion to forestall it in future crops.
Blossom finish rot is a results of calcium deficiency within the plant and when situations are dry, it makes it very exhausting for the tomatoes to attract in sufficient calcium by means of its roots, based on Frank Wertheim, agriculture and horticulture educator with the College of Maine Cooperative Extension.
“It occurs within the growth of the fruit within the flowering stage,” Wertheim mentioned. “It’s an issue when the soil goes by means of an excessive wet-dry cycle, which everyone knows it has been this summer time.”
Maine is presently experiencing its third yr of dry situations with a lot of the state experiencing reasonable drought or abnormally dry situations, based on the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“There’s usually enough calcium within the soil,” Wertheim mentioned. “However in a dry cycle the flower just isn’t getting that soluble calcium as a result of the water is reduce off simply when the plant wants it probably the most as a result of the calcium is there, however it might probably’t get to the plant.”
Meaning blossom finish rot is extra of a water relations drawback than a soil concern. It additionally signifies that for tomatoes already affected there may be not something you are able to do about it.
“As soon as they’ve skilled the drought situations, it’s just about too late,” Wertheim mentioned. “So now it’s extra preventative care, and we’re in one of many worst droughts I can bear in mind in Maine.”
However there may be some hope for future tomatoes this season.
“Once I get telephone calls about blossom finish rot the very first thing I ask is, ‘Is the soil mulched?’” Wertheim mentioned. “The reply is sort of at all times no.”
Mulching across the crops helps hold the soil extra uniformly moist, he mentioned. It additionally permits the soil to carry the moisture longer.
Any crops which might be on the brink of flower now would profit from being mulched, based on Wertheim. He additionally mentioned making use of calcium on to the soil may assist. You should use epsom salts, crushed oyster shells, egg shells, wooden ash, gypsum or a industrial product to get that calcium increase in your tomatoes.
However earlier than including something, Wertheim does suggest having your soil examined to see if it even wants that additional increase.
Tomatoes affected by blossom finish rot are nonetheless edible, simply reduce away and discard the discolored base.