What is black heart syndrome? Learn more about calcium deficiency in celery

Celery is a common snack for those on a diet, stuffed with peanut butter at school meals and a nutritious side dish dipped in Bloody Mary beverages, and is one of the most popular vegetables in the United States. This biennial vegetable can be easily grown in most home gardens, but is susceptible to problems such as black-heart celery disease. What is black-heart celery disease and can black-heart celery be treated?

What is black heart disease?

Celery belongs to the Umbelliferae family, whose members are carrot, fennel, parsley and dill. It is most often grown for its crisp, slightly salty stalks, but celery roots and leaves are also used in food preparation. Celery grows best in fertile, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter.
With a small root system, celery is an inefficient nutrient seeker, so adding organic matter is essential. This inability to effectively absorb nutrients is the cause of celery black heart disorder, which is the result of a lack of calcium in celery.
Black-heart celery deficiency is manifested by a discolouration of the young tender leaves in the centre of the plant. These affected leaves turn black and die. Black heart is also common in other vegetables such as

  • Lettuce
  • Endive
  • Radicchio
  • Spinach
  • Artichoke

It is known as tip blight when found among these vegetables and, as the name implies, it is manifested by light to dark brown lesions and necroses along the edges and tips of new leaves that develop inside the vegetable.
This calcium deficiency in celery is found during the months of July and August, when environmental conditions are at their most optimal and plant growth is at its peak. Calcium deficiencies are not necessarily related to soil calcium levels. They may simply be a by-product of conditions that favour rapid growth, such as warm temperatures and high fertilization.

Treatment of black celery heart deficiency

To control blackheart of celery, before planting, work in 2 to 4 cm of well-purified manure, compost and complete fertilizer (16-16-8) at a rate of 2 pounds per 100 square feet. Dig the mixture into the garden soil to a depth of 6 to 8 cm.
Good irrigation is also essential for celery plants to thrive. Regular irrigation prevents plant stress and allows the root system that absorbs the weaker nutrients to better increase its calcium intake. Celery needs at least 1 to 2 cm of water, either from irrigation or rainfall, every week during the growing season. Water stress will also make celery stalks fibrous. Regular watering will promote crisp, tender stems. A drip irrigation system is one of the most effective methods of irrigating celery crops.
In addition to the initial fertilizer applied to the plantation, celery will benefit from additional fertilizer. Apply complete fertilizer in side strips at a rate of 2 pounds per 100 square feet.

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