Promoting Health with Strong Vascular Systems
May 22, 2023
Many times, growers have the perception that when nutrients are available in the soil, then of course the plant would pick them up. And of course, in a truly healthy environment, that should be the case, if the plant has a need for those nutrients.
It is important, though, to realize that all the nutrients that are absorbed by plants from the soil are absorbed by the plants vascular system and moved upward into the plants. This means that the size and condition of the plants vascular system becomes really important, just like the size of a highway is really important if you want to move a lot of traffic quickly without a lot of traffic jams. So, we need to consider that part when we think about nutrient uptake. Not just nutrient release, but also understanding the channels through which nutrients move into plants and into actual fruit. I believe that when we think about this more deeply, it will shift our perspective.
From published references, we know that Calcium is foundational for a strong and healthy vascular system.
Bacterial canker in tomatoes is a good example. Marschner’s “Mineral Nutrition of Higher Plants” states that bacterial canker in tomato can be alleviated with adequate levels of calcium. Bacteria canker essentially clogs the vascular system of the plant and severely restricts the uptake of water and nutrients into the rest of the plant. The canker developed because of nutritional imbalances in the plant, specifically a calcium deficiency.
Another example is young cherry trees dying in the first year of planting. This is a very common challenge in the industry and one that can be mostly prevented with providing adequate levels of calcium in a plant-available form.
Another example that we recently discovered is blueberry scorch. Blueberry scorch can devastate blueberry production by preventing the blossoms from fully developing. How? Blueberry scorch is actually a virus but it clogs up the plants vascular system and in that way prevents sufficient water and nutrients from entering the plant and specific branches. And we found that with a heavy dose of calcium and a few foliars of the right nutrients, the symptoms have so far completely disappeared.
So what should we learn from these examples? The take-home message is this: for optimal uptake of nutrients and water, we need a strong and healthy vascular system. When we say strong and healthy, we mean not only healthy and unobstructed on the inside, but also robust and sturdy in appearance. Essentially this means that we need to focus on calcium as a primary growth mineral, compared to using nitrate which will push a thin and weak plant and stems. This includes not only the main stem, but also the pipelines that transfer nutrients into the fruit – the stems of the fruit.
In addition to calcium, we also know that silica is important for maintaining good nutrient uptake and a strong, healthy vascular system. Hugh Lovel references this, and also specifically mentions that silica is important for providing the capillary action that gives plants the energy to pick up nutrients and water from the soil. Mineral Nutrition of Higher Plants also references the importance of silica – it effect, is says that silica prevents the compression of the vascular systems during hot weather. I expect that this has a much bigger impact that we recognize. And then boron, potassium, and magnesium are also important. One source mentions that magnesium acts as a laxative within plants, keeping the vascular system cleaner.Source: Melvin Fisher | Sponsored by Keystone Bio-Ag LLC