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Environmental Causes of Tip Burn on Transplants

Ethan Grundberg, Vegetable Specialist
Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture

May 2, 2018

Tip Burn

As discussed in last week's article "Growers are Producing Great Transplants Despite Tough Weather Conditions" by Crystal Stewart, the cool, overcast, and wet spring has posed a number of challenges in propagation greenhouses. As Crystal noted, "high humidity and low light means almost no transpiration by the plants, so soil that is wet stays wet." These environmental conditions can result in a myriad of problems, including fungus gnat infestations, foliar diseases, and the fertility issues discussed by Crystal in the aforementioned article.

Calcium deficiencies in transplants can be another consequence of the short day lengths, overcast skies, cool temperatures, and high humidity that characterized most of the spring. Growers who have battled blossom end rot in tomatoes or tip burn in lettuce likely already understand that these disorders are, technically, caused by calcium deficiencies at the growing point of plants. However, the true culprit is typically not a calcium deficiency in the soil or growing media, but rather erratic watering that prevents the calcium in the soil or potting mix from becoming soluble and being taken up by plants. Getting the calcium into the roots is just the first part of the battle, however.

Calcium is not mobile within plants; instead, it is carried through the plant vascular system along with water that is being sucked through the plant by the process called transpiration. The small openings along leaves, stomata, open up to take in carbon dioxide for photosynthesis and release water in the process. This transpiration is what drives water movement up to the new growth points on plants and, in so doing, carries that calcium to the rapidly growing leaves to reinforce cell walls. What happens to transplants in a cool greenhouse at 95% relative humidity without supplemental light? They transpire exceptionally slowly and don't move calcium to the leaf margins. What happens when such conditions are followed by really warm weather and full sunlight? Plants grow and transpire quickly, but can't immediately supply the calcium demand at growth points which can result initially in small brown spots along the leaf edges that eventually turn papery and can be quickly colonized by secondary foliar pathogens.

Extensive research on tip burn has shown that supplying extra calcium through foliar feeding or fertigation will NOT help plants avoid calcium deficiencies if they are growing under low transpiration conditions. What can growers do to avoid calcium deficiency induced transplant tip burn?

  1. As Crystal mentioned, "if heading into a period of cold, wet days, minimize watering.  And don't be afraid to use gable end vents or ridge vents if it is too wet in the greenhouse!"
  2. Try to avoid dramatic temperature swings through supplemental heating, venting, and shade cloth; if plants have been grown in the mid-50s, a sudden surge into the 90s can lead to excessively quick growth that results in tip burn.
  3. Don't panic! Most plants will outgrow early calcium deficiency symptoms once they're in the field under more consistent growing conditions. However, tip burn on quick turn baby lettuces and other leafy greens both reduce the crop's shelf-life post-harvest and, even if minor, can make them unsellable.
  4. Don't throw water on a grease fire! It's easy to think providing extra calcium will help a plant experiencing a calcium deficiency. However, if the potting mix has sufficient calcium and the deficiency is environmentally-induced, adding extra calcium can actually interfere with the plant uptake of other essential nutrients like magnesium and potassium

 This article is from the May 3, 2018 edition of ENYCHP Vegetable News.  To read the full newsletter,CLICK HERE.



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Upcoming Events

Champlain Valley Virtual Petal Fall Meeting

May 20, 2024 : Champlain Valley Virtual Petal Fall Meeting - Zoom

Mike will review his observations from the field, and we will then hear from Dr. Robinson for his thinning suggestions for the petal fall application window.

Free to attend, no registration required, simply click on the following zoom link to join: https://cornell.zoom.us/j/96803343516?pwd=akxBSlB5NWRyc0ZVaWxhcXlVVmM1UT09

Meeting ID: 968 0334 3516

Passcode: 420188

View Champlain Valley Virtual Petal Fall Meeting Details

How man's best friend can help find Spotted Lanternfly

May 21, 2024
Millbrook, NY

Come and join us at the Dutchess County CCE office on May 21st for a special demonstration by Jennifer Fimbel, the Agriculture and Horticulture Program Leader with Dutchess County CCE. You will get to see her SLF K9 Cole in action as they demonstrate how man's best friend can be used to detect the Spotted Lanternfly. Attendance is free, but registration is required

View How man's best friend can help find Spotted Lanternfly Details

What is my vine trying to tell me?

May 22, 2024 : What is my vine trying to tell me?
Greenwich, NY

Are your grapevines showing signs of discoloration or stunted growth? Don't ignore these warning signs! Join us on May 22nd at the Washington County Fair Grounds to learn about the essential nutrients that grapevines require to thrive, identify the symptoms of nutrient deficiencies, and how to fix them. Don't miss out on this opportunity to improve your grapevine cultivation skills! Attendance is free, but registration is required. 

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Announcements

2023 Spotted Wing Drosophila Monitoring/Management

All berry farmers are watching for monitoring reports that indicate Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) adults are in their region. Mid-season berry crops should be sprayed as soon as berries begin to ripen unless you've elected to use insect exclusion netting.

- For general information about SWD, and to enroll for free monitoring reports, visit the Cornell SWD blog https://blogs.cornell.edu/swd1/.
- Click here for the 2023 Quick Guide for Pesticide Management. 
- For some great instructional videos and fact sheets on insect exclusion netting, visit the University of Vermont's Ag Engineering blog.


Resources from CCE ENYCHP!

We are developing new ways to connect with the CCE ENYCHP team this year! We have a Youtube page located at this link. Check out videos on Table Grape Production, Pest Updates and the 20 Minute Ag Manager - in 4 Minutes series

We have a Facebook Page here as well as an Instagram page. We keep these places updated with current projects, events, and other interesting articles and deadlines.

There are also text alerts available. Fruit and vegetable farmers in 17 Eastern NY counties can now receive real time alerts on high risk disease and pest outbreaks texted directly to their cell phone. The Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture program, which is supported by local Cornell Cooperative Extension associations, will now offer text alerts to those that enroll in our program in 2019. 

The text alerts will be reserved for important crop alerts that could impact management decisions immediately. For instance, if there were an outbreak of Late Blight in the area, this would be transmitted to vegetable growers.

Farmers can choose the crop for which they wish to receive updates. Additionally they can request that Ag Business Alerts be sent to them. These alerts might include due dates for crop insurance deadlines, market opportunities etc.

If you have questions, please contact enychp@cornell.edu


Podcasts

Winter Greens Grower Interviews in Northern New York

October 22, 2022
In this episode, vegetable specialist Elisabeth Hodgdon interviews Lindsey Pashow, ag business development and marketing specialist with the Cornell Cooperative Extension Harvest New York team. They discuss findings from a series of interviews with winter greens producers in northern New York. Lindsey shares production and marketing challenges associated with growing winter greens in this cold and rural part of the state, success stories and advice from growers, and tips for those interested in adding new crop enterprises to their operation.

Funding for this project was provided by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program. The episode was edited by Miles Todaro of the ENYCHP team.

Resources:
• Crop enterprise budget resources available from Penn State Extension (field and tunnel vegetables: https://extension.psu.edu/small-scale-field-grown-and-season-extension-budgets), UMass Extension (winter spinach budgets: https://ag.umass.edu/vegetable/outreach-project/improving-production-yield-of-winter-greens-in-northeast and field vegetables: https://ag.umass.edu/vegetable/fact-sheets/crop-production-budgets), and Cornell Cooperative Extension (high tunnel vegetables: https://blogs.cornell.edu/hightunnels/economics/sample-budgets-spreadsheets/). Use these budgets as templates when developing your own crop enterprise budget.
• The Organic Farmer’s Business Handbook, by Richard Wiswall
• The Winter Harvest Handbook, by Eliot Coleman

For questions about the winter greens project discussed in this podcast, reach out to Lindsey Pashow (lep67@cornell.edu) or Elisabeth Hodgdon(eh528@cornell.edu).

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