Calcium serves many purposes within plants, most importantly aiding in the formation of cell walls. The calcium binds the walls together, creating more stability for the cell membrane.
The Formation of Cell Walls
Without enough Calcium, the cell walls will not be as stable and be more easily broken down. Calcium also acts as a buffer to help protect the root system from excessive amounts of other elements and helps activate enzymes that regulate the flow of water through the plant cells.
Once the Calcium is used to bind the cell walls the Calcium is not longer available to utilize for new growth. Therefore, it is important to provide enough Calcium to support both mature leaves and new growth on the plant.
Regulating Water Flow
Calcium plays a role in activating enzymes, regulating the flow of water movement in cells, and is essential for cell growth and division.
The xylem and phloem tissues function in a similar way as our veins and arteries, transporting minerals and sugars throughout the plant. The xylem vessels carry water and dissolved nutrients from the roots through the stems to the leaves and fruit, which then leads to the process of transpiration.
Calcium ions are mainly transported in the xylem, therefore; factors influencing either the xylem flow or xylem tissues themselves, Calcium nutrition within the plant will be severely affected.
Common Symptoms of Calcium Deficiency
Tip Burn is visible as soon as the inner, younger leaves begin to develop toward the center of the plant. The affected tissues begin to look like a water-soaked area, which will then brown and eventually darken as it rots away.
Blossom End Rot (BER)
BER results from environmental and internal plant conditions, and usually first appears as a water-soaked area around the blossom scar, which will slowly turn a dark brown and sink in as the affected tissues lose water. Each fruit can have multiple areas with infected tissue, which can trigger premature ripening in these areas.
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