Language of the Plant

Most vegetable crops have the same growth characteristics. There is a difference in degrees between crops and varieties. However, the basic principals are the same.

Objective of Crop Production

  • Maximize the production of carbon compounds in the leaves.
  • Move compound to the seeds, fruit or storage tissue of the crop.

Strong cell wall tissue is necessary for the cell to  hold a large amount of water. The stronger tissue adds low cost weight to the crop. As crops grow, there are changes in color, height, length of branches or vines and the number of fruit. If the crop is under stress and loses color, apply nitrogen. This may result in several greener days; however, it does not solve the problem of yield or quality. In fact, it may reduce quality.

You need to understand the language of the plant.

The key word for understanding the plant is STRESS. As with all living organisms STRESS is always present. The objective is to minimize STRESS.

STRESS always starts in the roots. The roots become flooded and lose oxygen. If the soil becomes too dry roots do not grow correctly. Attracting disease through roots releasing water can also cause STRESS.

It is important for the growing area just behind the root cap to have adequate calcium for strong cell wall formation. When there is insufficient calcium, root cells will weaken. The result will also cause the releasing of water through the roots causing STRESS.

Roots also supply necessary plant hormones such as Cytokinins. Cytokinins help activate auxiliary buds and suppress other hormones from becoming out of optimal balance. The balancing of the Ethylene hormone may be Cytokinins most important function.

All plants are hormone driven. Most fertilizer nutrients affect hormones. Nitrogen is a main nutrient that affects hormones. Nitrate forms of nitrogen are the most important. Nitrate stimulates IAA and Auxin, causing great terminal growth. The more nitrate you apply, the greater the vegetative growth.

If the plant comes under STRESS, plants with higher nitrate will have more disease and lower quality of storage tissue. In addition, more blooms and fruit will be aborted. The hormones caused by nitrogen can increase yields, but can also reduce yields and quality if the growing season is a STRESS filled one.


When plants come under STRESS, protein hydrolyzes to ammonia. The ammonia becomes toxic and causes the plant to produce Ethylene—the aging hormone.  Ethylene promotes enzymes that eat cell wall tissue causing soft fruit, soft storage tissue, underdeveloped tissue, blossom-end-rot, and other problems labeled physiological disorders.

Ethylene is the main problem because it is stress related. The hormone causes blooms and fruit to abort and causes maturity. If the plant is STRESSED early, it causes early dying. A high level of Ethylene in the plant destroys cell walls and creates a perfect situation for disease infection.

Applying a liberal amount of nitrogen will primarily feed the plant in the form of nitrate. When the nitrate gets into the leaf, it produces protein and organic acids. The more nitrate going into the leaves, the more organic acids being produced.

The organic acids demand cations such as potassium, magnesium and calcium to neutralize. Acids prefer calcium because it increases calcium gradients between the leaves and other plant parts. The process depletes other plant parts needing calcium. This will cause bitter pit, hollow heart, blossom-end-rot, soft onion, cavity spot and tip burn. Adequate boron in the plant will reduce the leaves sucking ability. Boron will inhibit calcium problems.

The calcium problem in the storage tissue usually happens when the plant is making growth. During this period, root growth slows down. The roots are not capable of supplying adequate calcium to alleviate the problem. In fact, calcium is drawn out of the root and stolen growing points. Just as stolen abort their meristematic tissue during the rapid growth of potatoes, all plants abort meristematic root tissue. There not enough calcium in the meristematic tissue for normal cell growth.

Without normal cell growth Ethylene increases in the plant making the plant susceptible to disease. The roots can no longer produce enough hormones to control the Ethylene build-up.

High nitrogen use can cause physiological, quality, storage and disease problems in the plants. However, you should not reduce the use of nitrogen in great amounts even if it reduces the yield of our plants. Reducing the nitrate nitrogen our plant feeds on reduces organic acids in the leaves and reduces the decrease of calcium.

  • Use Nitro-Plus, a liquid amine nitrogen and calcium solutions. This supplies a larger quality of calcium in the feeding zone of the roots and stolen.
  • Inject Nitro-Plus into the bed or seeding areas before transplanting or seeding.
  • Use Nitro-Plus and foliar applications integrated into the total nitrogen program. It is recommended that this unique nitrogen supplies at least 1/3 of the total nitrogen applied. Where STRESS is greater, higher rates are beneficial.

The other method used in conjunction with the Nitro-Plus program is a foliar treatment suppressing Ethylene build-up in the plant.

Spray with Harvest Plus GA, SET, Desert, Mix, Calcium 5 S, Calcium 5 X and Nitrate Balancer every 7 to 14 days according to the plant needs.

What results should you see?

  • A larger diameter stem
  • A larger and whiter root growth
  • More branches and fruiting points
  • More even set of fruit
  • Wider leaves
  • Stronger cell walls
    • Less drooping of the plants
    • Stronger stems
    • Heavier tissue
  • More storage tissue
  • Less early dying
  • Better storage and/or shelf life

"We can only learn by understanding the language of the plant."