News and knowhow for farmers

Crushed eggs antidote to blossom end rot in tomatoes

Adding crushed egg shells to the soil and watering thrice a week controls blossom end rot in tomatoes.

Farmers can control blossom end rot in tomatoes by adding crushed egg shells to their plants and watering at least thrice a week.

According a research by the Kenya Agricultural and Research Organization, egg shells have calcium that helps in boosting root and leaf growth and maintaining fruit firmness and quality thereby reducing blossom end rot risks.

“Blossom end rot is a troublesome disease, familiar to most farmers who have grown tomatoes with a 20 to 30 per cent loss rate,” said KALRO crops researcher Mirima Otipa.

“The disease is characterized by round –brown water-soaked spots on the blossom end of the fruit. Test the soil in your farm for calcium levels one to two months before planting,”

Harden your seedlings two weeks before transplanting. This involves exposing the seedlings to sunlight, wind and temperatures outside the nursery bed seven to 10 days before transplanting.

While transplanting, boost calcium levels in the soil by adding crushed egg shells (12g of eggshells/plant) and bone meal (250g/hill) in the planting hole.

Eggs shells can be obtained from chicken keepers or collected at the farm level for those farmers keeping poultry.

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blosom end rot

 Tomato fruits affected by blossom end rot. Courtesy

After planting, water your plants three times per week to ensure an adequate amount of moisture and steady growth of the plants. To conserve soil moisture, apply mulch cover using maize stover, wheat straw or dried grass. Mulching is important especially at the flowering and fruiting stage as the plants need maximum moisture for optimum yields.

Farmers can test the soil moisture by picking and pressing soil between the fingers. If the soil particles do not stick to each other, it shows the soil is dry hence the need to initiate direct control.

Top dress the plants with calcium ammonium nitrate (26 per cent Nitrogen) at knee high at a rate of 40kg/acre then at flowering 80kg/acre. CAN is sold at Sh1800 per 50kg bag and is obtained from certified agrovets.

As the fruits mature farmers should look out for small water-soaked sunken spots at the blossom ends of the fruits which enlarge and darken as the tomatoes grow. Spray with calcium nitrate or calcium chloride at 30g in 20 liters of water every seven-10 days when fruits are about two centimeters in diameter. After every three years, add lime to your farm with calcium carbonate at 150 g per square meter.

The price of a 64 kg crate of tomatoes at current market prices in various towns range from Sh. 2200 to 2500 according to Soko+, a digital commodity trading and information system, linking small scale farmers to end retailers/bulk purchasers of produce.

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