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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

Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training Course

Event Offers DEC Credits

February 25, 2020
Albany, NY

A grower training course developed by the Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) that meets the regulatory requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.  At least one person per farm producing more than $25,000 worth of fruits and vegetables must attend this course once.  Participants will receive a certificate of course completion by the Association of Food and Drug Officials.

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2020 ENYCHP Fruit & Vegetable Conference

February 25 - February 26, 2020
Albany, NY

Join us for two days filled with informative sessions on Tree Fruit, Vegetables, Small Fruit, Grapes, Hemp, and more!

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Hands-on Pruning Demonstration with Dr. Terence Robinson - Capital Region

February 27, 2020
Altamont, NY

Join us for a morning of hands-on pruning discussion and demonstration with Dr. Terence Robinson.  Terence will walk us through the key steps of pruning the tall spindle orchard, and will also review pruning techniques for other orchard systems commonly grown across the Capital Region. Please note this meeting will be held the morning following our annual winter conference in Albany.  

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Announcements

2020 ENY Fruit & Vegetable Conference


Join us for two full days of informative sessions on Tree Fruit, Berries, Vegetables, Grapes, Hemp, and more...many of which will offer DEC credits.

When registering, please be sure to choose the correct cost option depending on your enrollment status with Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture and whether you will be attending one day or two.

Lodging: Individual guests may call The Desmond directly at 518-869-8100 (or 800-448-3500) to book rooms at the discounted rate of $115.00 per night. Reservations must be received no later than February 9, 2020 to get the discounted rate. When requesting a room, guests may refer to the "Eastern NY Fruit & Vegetable Conference Room Block" or by referencing Block Code: FVG.

2020 Fruit & Veg Conference credits are as follows:
  • Tree Fruit - Day 1 morning - 2.0 credits in categories 1a, 10, 22
  • Tree Fruit - Day 1 afternoon - 2.25 credits in categories 1a, 10, 22
  • FSMA - Day 1 all day - 2.0 credits for 10, 1a, 23
  • Grapes - 2.25 credits in categories 1a, 10, 22
  • Berries - 2.75 credits in categories 1a, 10, 22
  • Veg - Day 2 morning - 1.50 credits in categories 1a, 10, 23
  • Veg - Day 2 afternoon - 2.00 credits in categories 1a, 10, 23
  • Hemp - 1.75 credits in categories 10 and 1a; 1.25 credits in categories 21, 24


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

Tomato Disease Resistance

February 17, 2020
Teresa Rusinek discusses new tomato varieties being developed by Dr. Martha Mutchler-Chu at Cornell University with improved resistance to early blight, late blight, septoria leaf spot, and other foliar diseases. Rusinek also covers the basic biology and current management options for the primary tomato foliar diseases, including bacterial spot and speck, found in Eastern New York.

Dr. Meg McGrath: What’s New in Managing Tomato Diseases in 2019 (fungicide efficacy trials for several tomato foliar diseases, including OMRI options)
http://vegetablemdonline.ppath.cornell.edu/NewsArticles/Tomato%20Diseases-McGrath-NJ%20ACTS-2019-NY.pdf

Tomato Disease Resistance Breeding http://vegetablemdonline.ppath.cornell.edu/NewsArticles/Cornell%20Disease%20Resistant%20Tomatoes-2019.pdf

Hot Water Treatment
http://vegetablemdonline.ppath.cornell.edu/NewsArticles/HotWaterSeedTreatment.html

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