The most prominent representative of the nightshade family is the tomato. Other vegetables like eggplants, bell peppers, chilies and ground nuts have a similar nutrient demand. Mostly produced as table vegetables, fruit quality has a high significance. Even severe deficiencies can be cured short-term by applying foliar fertilizers, saving a high yielding harvest.
Nitrogen requirements are moderate during foliage growth until fruit set. Nitrogen deficiency can be seen in small and pale green to yellow leaf color. Symptoms are first seen in the older leaves and constantly progress to new growing ones. The plant growth seems thin and upright. In case of serious deficiency, the older leaves become completely yellow or turn brown before falling off from the plant. Stems and veins can become purple.
Potassium is important for plant physiology such as coenzyme functions, protein synthesis, stomatal function and turgor potential. On the other hand it is the main nutrient affecting the overall quality of the tomato, improving a uniform color of ripening, shape, acidity and taste of fruit (esp. sugar content). In case of deficiency the older leaves become chlorotic and later necrotic, starting from the leaf edges. If severe deficiency occurs, the intercostal areas of the leaves may become chlorotic, too. Whitish necrotic dots develop within the chlorotic areas.
Calcium is responsible for a healthy cell division and cell elongation. It ensures an appropriate working of the cell membrane and its permeability. Thus, high levels of Calcium are important for maintaining firmness and preventing damages due to disorders (such as blossom-end rot) or handling and transportation. Deficiency can be seen on the fruits itself and has a direct impact on fruit quality. Severely affected plants show a dark, caved-in zone on the blossom end of the ripened fruit. This zone is sharply marked-out against the green/red part of the fruit. The fruits ripen prematurely and are not marketable, resulting in a complete.
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