Required by all plants to grow and thrive, calcium (Ca) plays a big part in plant development and fruit quality. Although it’s considered a secondary nutrient, a plant’s need for calcium can be as high as its needs for nitrogen and potassium.
Calcium is essential for the proper functioning of growing points, particularly root tips and nodules. It aids in cell division, forms compounds which strengthen cell walls, supports the function of cell membranes, and helps control enzyme activity and the metabolism of starch.
Calcium is also important for nitrate uptake and phosphorus uptake and metabolism, and is a key element in preventing and controlling certain diseases and triggering a plant's defense responses.
All crops – especially fruits, vegetables and pod crops – can be sensitive to calcium deficiency.
A variety of physiological disorders can occur as a result of calcium deficiency, including stunted root systems, failure of terminal buds and root tips to develop normally, deformed leaves or leaves that do not open properly, chlorosis, and leaf tip necrosis. Abnormalities in fruit, such as softness, bitter pit, hollow heart, internal browning and poor storage life, are also symptoms of a calcium deficiency.
Calcium availability can be affected by low soil pH, a high rate of nitrogen application, or an unfavorable balance of calcium, magnesium and potassium. Even when calcium levels in the soil are high, deficiencies can occur in the plant due to an insufficient supply to the plant tissues because, once fixed, calcium is immobile.
Calcium is mobile in the soil but not easily translocated in plants; a constant supply is required to avoid deficiencies. The preferred method of supplying soluble calcium is with the seed (Pulse Primer or Pulse Pak for pulse crops) or through the spray of a liquid foliar fertilizer, such as P3 with the herbicide, or CN9 or CalMax Complete at multiple stages of growth and development.
P3 is a low-salt, calcium-based foliar fertilizer, formulated with Stress Reliever Technology™. It is effective for boosting plant metabolism and relieving the crop from early-season stress caused by cold, wet conditions or injury, and is recommended for use on all pulse crops at herbicide timing.
Formulated with AXM Technology™ for optimal uptake, CalMax or CalMax Complete should be applied during three critical stages of growth and development: early in the season, during flowering, and during fruit maturation and bulking. CalMax Complete contains a high analysis of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen, and micronutrients, and is recommended for all crops, especially fruits and vegetables.
Talk to your retailer or OMEX sales representative for more information on the importance of including Calcium in your crop nutrition plan.
In our next post: magnesium – the element at the heart of chlorophyll.