The importance of Calcium
Grower’s have long realised the importance of Calcium availability at relevant growth stages, to achieve the crop’s maximum potential by increasing the health of the plant and the quality of the fruit. Calcium dense produce is firmer and crunchier with improved storage quality and shelf life.
Many plant diseases and physical disorders are associated with Calcium deficiency, which causes visible abnormalities in growing parts of plants and dieback of roots.
Roots, Shoots & Fruits specialise in plant mineral nutrition and biological organisms, working closely with NZ growers to analyse their leaf tissue tests and prescribe plant nutritional programs to improve crop health and production.
Calcium may be limited during a critical growth phase, for a few reasons; stressful conditions (drought and drying winds), soil that contains an abundance of magnesium or potassium, excess nitrogen or plants that simply grow too fast. And of course, maybe there simply isn’t enough calcium in the soil. For these reasons foliar adjunctive calcium applications are critical in horticulture.
Listed below are some common disorders widely seen in calcium-deficient crops:
Fruit pitting in Kiwifruit and blossom-end rot of tomatoes and capsicum
Albeda breakdown in citrus and bitter-pit in apples
Hollow Heart, known as ‘Browning’ in potatoes
Fruit splitting and cracking – especially after rainfall
Dieback of growing shoots and roots and Irregular cropping
Poor post-harvest ‘keeping quality’ of fruit, primarily the fruit skin quality
Plants susceptible to pests and disease due to weaker cells from a lack of calcium.
Taking plant tissue samples for Balanced Analysis early in the season, three weeks pre-flower for most crops is essential before beginning any foliar fertiliser program. This allows growers to assess the current levels of elements and the nutrient requirements of the crop ensuring correct allocation of funds for a return on investment.
Calcium is usually applied after fruit set because it will assist in the cell division process and reinforce the fruit cell membrane – encouraging firm, thick celled fruit.
Comprehensive trials (on Apples, Grapes, Berry crops, Stonefruit, Kiwifruit etc) have been conducted in NZ, compare the use of various Calcium fertiliser treatments and the impact they have on the fruit and the ROI for the growers. View a library of research papers at https://www.rd2. co.nz/trials/
ARE ALL CALCIUM PRODUCTS EQUALLY EFFECTIVE?
Biomin Calcium has come out favourably when compared to generic calcium applications and the reason is clear. Calcium is naturally an immobile element. Plants find it hard to absorb without a lot of work, and then find it hard to move throughout the plant's system.
Biomin Calcium is highly soluble and bio-available, due to the molecules being ‘chelated’ with Glycine, which is the smallest amino acid which plants themselves are made of. Plants absorb the Glycine chelated molecules readily sending them to areas of need. In Kiwifruit trials, fruit treated with Biomin Calcium had a 15% increase in residual Calcium levels, showing that Glycine chelated Calcium is highly systemic as well as mobile through the fruit cuticle, a characteristic not present in other calcium formulations in the marketplace.
The advantages are numerous; lower application rates of the fertiliser is needed; Biomin calcium is non-phytotoxic whilst chloride applications are–and it is totally absorbed by plants within a few hours of application, creating a great rain window. Biomin fertiliser is organically certified through Biogro, meaning safe applications that are beneficial for the environment and the microorganisms present in our soils.
Foliar spray Biomin Calcium during cell division or at times of plant growth and notice less disease, juicier, brighter and more colourful fruit that is crunchier and splits less after rainfall.