composition of red tomatoes with water drops

How to Prevent Tomato End Rot

We all love tomatoes, making them the number one garden vegetable in most households. Sadly, not everyone who grows tomatoes enjoys a great harvest. So how can you stop tomato end rot?

It is all exciting to watch and care for your tomatoes daily, awaiting a big and beautiful harvest. The most heartbreaking moment happens when you flip the fruits over and find a tomato rot on the bottom.

One of the most common challenges of tomato farming is tomato rot. Agriculturally, the condition is known as blossom end rot (BER). It occurs as a soft spot on the bottom of the tomato fruits and eventually rots into a black patch.

Fortunately, tomato bottom rot is preventable and treatable if you identify it early. In such cases, your odds for a successful harvest remain great.

Please read on to discover everything you should know about tomato bottom rot or BER, — its causes, control, and prevention measures.

What is Tomato End Rot?

Blossom end rot occurs when a plant runs too low on calcium supply, forcing its fruit cell walls to weaken and burst. The cells then die, leaving behind a rotten black spot not only on your tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, melons, cucumbers, and squash.

When tomato bottom rot occurs, it reduces the quality of your fruits and the overall plant yield. So, it would help if you took adequate measures to stop tomato rot as soon as you identify its signs and symptoms.

What Causes Tomatoes to Rot on the Bottom?

This is one of the most common questions you will come across as a tomato lover or farmer. This tomato rot condition results from calcium deficiency, not bacteria or fungus, and occurs as a water-soaked spot that rots and turns black over time.

Here are some factors that may hinder your fruits from getting adequate calcium, which eventually results in tomato rot:

  • Inadequate or excess moisture supply;
  • Excess nitrogen;
  • Icy soil at planting;
  • Root damage during cultivation;
  • Too high or too low soil PH;
  • Some varieties are too vulnerable to tomato rot on the bottom.

Prevention Tips for Tomato End Rot

Blossom end rot within your tomatoes is heartbreaking as it significantly compromises your potential harvest. Fortunately, tomato rot is preventable and manageable. You can save the rest while you can’t recover the damaged fruits. Here are valuable tips on how to stop tomato rot in your garden and enjoy a bumper harvest.

1. Ensure Steady Moisture Supply

Inadequate or excess water supply can cause your tomatoes to rot on the bottom. So, it would help if you guaranteed a steady moisture supply for the plants to prevent them from rotting. Straw mulch is one of the most effective ways of maintaining stability and moisture levels.

During drought seasons, you can thoroughly soak the tomatoes once or twice weekly. To confirm adequate water, stick your fingers in the soil around the plants to ensure it is absorbed several inches deep.

Water cones and soaker hoses are other perfect ways of delivering a slow and steady water supply. If the rains get too much, you can create trench drainage to remove excess water from the plants.

Red ripe tomatoes attached to the veins; Source: Pixabay

To prevent root drowning due to excess moisture in the soil, encourage new roots above the wet ground by heaping compost around the plant base.

Pot-grown tomatoes are the most vulnerable to tomato rot as they struggle to keep adequate moisture. To stop tomato rot in such cases, you can consider watering spikes and self-watering containers.

2. Use Balanced Fertilizers

Compost and aged manure are great for tomatoes as they are heavy feeders – they don’t primarily use fresh substances. Without such, you can invest in great organic fertilizers, readily available in the market, to jump-start your plants.

3. Ensure the Soil Is Just Warm Enough, Not Too Hot

Tomato seeds thrive at least 60 °F soil temperatures at germination and transplants at 55°F even though the growth will be slow.

The best thing to do is to wait until nighttime temperatures are above 55°F. Invest in a soil thermometer to help you monitor the soil temperatures, which you can raise by covering the planting area with red or black plastic. In the summer months, you can prevent root overheating using organic mulch.

4. Avoid Working Too Close to the Plant Roots

It is essential to protect the ground close to the tomatoes’ roots. You can pull out the weeds, but use a hoe sparingly. Mulching limits the need for cultivation in your garden.

5. Check the Soil pH Before Planting

Tomatoes thrive in a soil PH of between 6.2 and 6.8. As a tomato farmer, you should conduct a soil PH to ensure a perfect soil PH for your plants. If it is too low, you can improve by limiting the garden bed by increasing the calcium supply.

Doing so raises the PH levels. Lowering the PH levels, on the other hand, is best done over time. You can use organic mulches and compost, but the latter is most effective.

6. Increase Calcium Content in the Soil

Crushed eggshells are one of the most effective ways of adding calcium to your garden soil. Several cheap calcium antacid tablets, gypsum, or garden lime should also work.

Sprinkle the soil surface with lime, and gently work each section, thoroughly covering it with mulch and watering. Moreover, you can also apply rot-stop to the tomato foliage, as it is one of the most effective tricks to preventing blossom end rot.

7. Consider BER-Resistant Tomato Varieties

Any tomato farmer or lover understands that some varieties are more susceptible to rot than others. These types may include Independence, Surprise, Fantastic, Big Boy, Whopper, Castel King, and Wonder Boy.

On the other hand, Fresh Pack, Pik Red, Winter, Sunny, Celebrity, Jet Star, Manipal, and Mountain Pride are among the ones with minimal incidences of blossom rot.

Wrapping Up Tomato End Rot Prevention

Tomatoes are one of the top garden vegetables in most household gardens. They offer great versatility in their uses, from cooking to eating them raw and making salads.

Unfortunately, they are vulnerable to rotting on the bottom, affecting your harvest’s quality and quantity. But what causes tomatoes to rot on the bottom? Bottom tomato rot results from insufficiency of calcium.

Luckily, the above tips should help you prevent the occurrence of BER, guaranteeing you a healthy and excellent tomato harvest this year. The key is identifying and dealing with anything that hinders calcium uptake in your plants.


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