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General discussion regarding the techniques and methods used to successfully grow tomato plants in containers.

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Old July 30, 2016   #1
Yak54
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Default Dwarfs in grow bags & BER

My first year growing in containers (grow bags) and I'm having a high rate of BER on my Sweet Scarlet Dwarf & Dwarf Orange Cream plants. Growing medium is Pro Mix BX. Fertilizer is 5-10-10 & Tomato Tone mixed in when planted with a follow up of Tomato Tone a few weeks after planting. Plants look pretty good with moderate amounts of green fruit but high rate of BER. Any tricks from you container growing experts to minimize BER ? Maybe Calcium ?

Dan
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Old July 30, 2016   #2
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I grow all my dwarfs and a few others in grow bags. Mine only develop a bad case of BER when they don't get a weekly feeding and regular watering. I feed weekly with Texas Tomato Food. Fertilizers don't stay in grow bags -- they wash out quickly. That's why I use liquid fertilizer so the plants can take it up before it washes out.
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Old July 30, 2016   #3
OmahaJB
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With my indoor winter/spring garden tomato plants almost all my tomatoes had BER, although it got better towards the end. My summer indoor garden tomatoes have not had it, with the exception of one tomato. Only things different really have been the heat (my grow room has been hot this summer) and the fact I've used Unsulphured Blackstrap Molasses two or three times, which helps the plants absorb nutrients from what I understand. I should probably have used the molasses more often, but still I haven't seen BER so no problem.

I thought my main problem with BER during the winter and spring was over watering, but I now believe it had more to do with the cooler weather.
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Old July 30, 2016   #4
natural
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Dan,

I (actually, my son) am growing 300 plants in 5 gal grow bags.

Based on the advice from a local commercial greenhouse grower, I switched from an all peat mix to a mix that contains peat and bark fines. The bark actually helped the water soak in more uniformly. The problem I had with all peat is that if it dried out the water would run down the perimeter of the plant and not soak in. I have had much less BER this summer and it has been one of the hottest on record here.

You definitely must water consistently. Especially with your BX mix.

Temps here have been in the low to mid 90's every day the past month. I have had to water twice a day for 10 minutes each cycle. I am using netafim spray stakes.

Good luck,
Bill
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Old July 30, 2016   #5
encore
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in my gutter system which gives the plants all the water they want, which is really a grow bag inside of a bucket, my mix also included garden lime, out of 11 plants i only got 6 tomatoes with BER,
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Old August 2, 2016   #6
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Regulating their water intake and adding Dolomitic lime (mixed in with the initial potting mix, or scratched into the surface) or Calcium Nitrate (dissolves into water) should reduce the likelihood of BER. Bottom watering can help sometimes.
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Old August 7, 2016   #7
Yak54
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Thanks to all for your input and comments. I appreciate you all taking the time to respond to my post.

Dan
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Old August 7, 2016   #8
Lee
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Dan,

It is my belief that there are three main things that effect BER.
The root cause is the calcium uptake of the plant, so most people
assume BER is caused by lack of calcium.
So, lack of Calcium is one possibility, but I think it is the least likely.
Second is even watering. Uneven watering leads to inconsistent levels
of nutrients in the plant, which I believe is the most often cause of BER.
Third is temperature. Again, I believe low soil temperature inhibits the amount of nutrient uptake in the plants, and thus BER is more prevalent early in the season.

So for container, make sure you use a good potting mix, keep it consistently watered, and use black/dark pots to maximize the soil temperature. These should help eliminate or greatly reduce BER occurrence.

Good luck!

Lee
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Old August 8, 2016   #9
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Lots of good advice above. BER happens when a plant is stressed and there are small green fruit - healthy fruit development needs calcium. Most growing mixes have plenty - but the plant stress causes calcium to leave developing fruit, causing the issue - onset of BER. Visibly wilting plants on a hot day with green fruit on the plant will lead to BER. I had very little BER this year in my bales and containers - but also watered essentially daily when it didn't rain.
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Old August 8, 2016   #10
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Thanks Lee and Craig. So far I've had 9 or 10 BER tomatoes to throw away on my 4 dwarfs. I started fertilizing with TTF and watering daily to try and stop it. Hope the TTF gets some calcium into the grow bags. More will be revealed ! Always learning. Nice to have smart people with much experience on this thread to help out us rookies.
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Old August 9, 2016   #11
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Quote:
and use black/dark pots to maximize the soil temperature
Lee, What type of pots are you referring to and what size?

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Old August 9, 2016   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amideutch View Post
Lee, What type of pots are you referring to and what size?

Ami
Cheap recycled black nursery pots are what I have best luck with. 10~15 gallon in size, I believe, although I haven't looked in a while.
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Old August 9, 2016   #13
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Water twice a day during the summer. Doing that this year I only have one tomato with BER, and only a little bit at the bottom. Also other stresses like high heat and sun will sometime lead to ber on its own. I have never personally seen ber in cold weather. It happens at the beginning of the season because plant and fruit development is at its fastest and that is when localized calcium deficiency will happen.
See what the most effected varieties are and skip those next year. Also, as I have said before: boron.
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Old August 13, 2016   #14
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I think zip has a good point. I paint my nursery pots white to reduce temps in the pot. Black pots are a heat magnet...but I suppose if you are in the northern states...you might need to warm your potting mix.
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Old August 13, 2016   #15
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I have 3 white grow bags and one black Smart Pot. The plant in the black bag has done better than the other 3 in the white bags so far this season. But this is in the N. E. Ohio summer weather patterns. YMMV.
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