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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Calcium is a vital component in cell walls and is involved in the movement of sugars and starches within the plant.


  • Calcium deficiency does not usually cause foliar symptoms but does show as fruit disorders,
  • Bitter pit of certain apple varieties and breakdown of Spartan apples have been related to a lack of calcium,
  • A shortage of calcium in the developing fruit causes these disorders, 
  • There may be ample in the soil and leaves but it does not move to the expanding fruit since calcium is immobile in the plant 

Bitter pit:

  • The physiological breakdown of cells under the skin, causing slight depressions generally concentrated at the calyx end of the fruit,
  • The tissue in these depressed areas is darkened, dry and spongy with a bitter taste,
  • In some instances the symptoms may not be apparent on the fruit surface but appear under the skin,
  • Large fruit from trees with light crops are more likely to have bitter pit.
  • Spy is frequently affected by this disorder,
  • With the right conditions, bitter pit can occur on Delicious, Idared, Crispin, Cortland, Empire, Honeycrisp and other varieties,
  • The bitter pit sensitivity of some of the newer cultivars is not accurately known at this time,
  • Bitter pit may not be evident at harvest but develops in stored fruit and can result in extensive loss from storage.
Calcium deficiency – mottle discolouration and chlorosis (top), marginal necrosis (bottom) <br />
Calcium deficiency – young leaf showing discolouration and necrosis (top), nearly mature leaf with extensive areas of dead tissue (bottom)
Click to enlarge.