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Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Open 9 to 6 Mon. through Sat.
and 10 to 5 on Sun.

Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.

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Nearly every year home owners become very concerned when they begin noticing the bottoms of their tomatoes turning dark. This is a condition called "Blossom-End Rot" (BER). (NOTE: Conscientious horticulturists refrain from discussing Blossom-End Rot for fear that careless secretaries might inadvertently omit certain letters such as the "l" and "s" from the term. This would create widespread panic among the female population; the AIDS fear is enough for any society without horticulturists conjuring up the possible epidemic of Bosom-End Rot!) Blossom?end?rot is quite a common occurrence on tomatoes but also is a problem on other crops such as peppers and watermelons. Although it may occur anywhere on the fruit, it generally occurs at the blossom end or bottom. It can occur at almost anytime during the development of the fruit. It generally begins with the appearance of small, irregular-shaped water soaked areas near the base of the fruit which darkens and eventually can become leathery in appearance. When severe enough, it actually appears to wrinkle and can deteriorate as the fruit matures. To see an actual image of this disorder, go to: and enter “blossom-end rot of tomatoes”

Why does blossom-end-rot occur? Researchers are not quite sure of the exact cause but most agree it is associated with a deficiency of calcium as well as excessive water loss. One thing is certain, and that is that there are no pathogens associated with its occurrence. Fungus or other types of disease may infect the bottom of the fruit after the occurrence of blossom-end-rot, but these are secondary in nature.

Blossom-end-rot is a "physiological" disorder of tomato fruit. Conditions which favor its occurrence are those which result in water stress of the plant. These could be soils which are too wet, soils that are too dry, or drying winds which increase water loss from the foliage. Whenever these conditions occur, the plants will lose more water to the atmosphere through its foliage than it can absorb through its roots. This will result in water loss from the plant and the fruit, resulting in a slight desiccation of the blossom-end or the bottom of the tomato fruit. These cells die, resulting in the appearance of the blackened area. This condition is aggravated when growing containerized plants since it is difficult to constantly maintain optimum soil moisture levels.

The visual symptoms associated with blossom-end -rot often are the result of a condition which may have occurred several days or even weeks prior to the symptoms. Therefore, when homeowners begin to worry about the occurrence of blossom-end-rot, the cause may have been several weeks prior to the conditions causing the problem.

What can be done about blossom-end-rot? It's obvious that anything which will maintain uniform soil moisture will help. A garden located in a well drained soil will go for a long way toward preventing "BER" that is associated with soggy or too wet soil. A good mulching program will also help as it reduces water loss from the soil and makes it more available to the plant during dry periods. A uniform and consistent watering program is also vitally important. Insuring a supply of readily available calcium will help prevent this problem. This is why a yearly application of gypsum (calcium sulfate) is now recommended even in this area's highly calcareous soils.

One of the questions that always comes is whether or not the affected fruit should be removed from the plant. There are those who feel that the fruit exhibiting blossom-end-rot should be left on the plant because if they are removed the problem will appear on other fruit. Others feel the fruit should be removed because the tissue can decay and serve as a source of sever diseases later on. These fruit will require nourishment from the plant to mature which could be utilized to produce top quality tomatoes. But by the same token, these fruits are still edible where the affected area is trimmed away, provided no secondary rot of the fruit occurs.

What should the homeowner do? The consensus of opinion among Texas horticulturists is that the fruit should be removed to allow for the development of first-quality fruit rather than mature a fruit effected with blossom-end-rot. Locate the garden in a well drained area of the yard, use a good mulching program and maintain sufficient and adequate soil moisture for good growth.

The problem always seems worse than it really is because the BER affected tomatoes are ALWAYS the first to ripen. Since we are hungry for fresh, spring tomatoes, any blemish on the first, precious fruit generates hysteria. In actuality, less than 10 per cent of all fruit produced by an effected plant will be damaged. BE CALM! Blossom-end-rot can be eliminated by the removal of the effected fruit--suppose you had to deal with Bosom-end-rot?!