This article was published originally on 7/15/2009
Blossom end rot is a common problem on tomatoes. It appears as a brownish black spot on the blossom end (bottom) of the fruit. Secondary organisms invade the brownish black spot and cause the fruit to rot. Blossom end rot is most common on the earliest maturing fruit that ripen in July and early August.
Blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency in the developing fruit. Wide fluctuations in soil moisture levels impair calcium uptake by the root system of the tomato plant. Excessive nitrogen fertilization may also contribute to blossom end rot.
To reduce blossom end rot, water tomato plants on a weekly basis during dry weather to provide a consistent supply of moisture to the plants. (Tomato plants require about 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week during the growing season.) Mulch the area around the tomato plants to conserve soil moisture. Avoid over-fertilization. There is no need to apply calcium to the soil as most Iowa soils contain more than adequate levels of calcium.
Pick and discard fruit affected with blossom end rot. The removal of the affected fruit will allow the tomato plant to channel all of its resources into the growth and development of the remaining fruit.
Blossom end rot can also occur on pepper, eggplant, summer squash, and watermelon.