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Calcium in performance bowls green management

A regular reader asked this week about Calcium and its role in turf management.

To answer here is an excerpt from my eBook, Performance Bowling Greens

Calcium is needed by plants to grow and maintain health. It is a key constituent of cell walls.

Once fixed in the plant, calcium ceases to be mobile and this means if the calcium supply runs out the plant can’t move it around to where it is needed, it must take more in. This means in times of low transpiration, the grass plant can quickly run out of calcium.

If calcium availability is low or compromised grass plants can experience a range of difficulties

  • Every plant needs calcium to grow.
  • Once fixed, calcium is not mobile in the plant. It is an important constituent of cell walls and can only be supplied in the xylem sap. Thus, if the plant runs out of a supply of calcium, it cannot remobilise calcium from older tissues.
  • If transpiration is reduced for any reason, the calcium supply to growing tissues will rapidly become inadequate.

Calcium plays a very important role in plant growth and nutrition, as well as in cell wall composition. The primary roles of calcium are:

  • As a soil amendment, calcium helps to maintain chemical balance in the soil, reduces soil salinity, and improves water penetration.
  • Calcium plays a critical metabolic role in carbohydrate removal.
  • Calcium neutralises cell acids.

Therefore the role of calcium in plants must not be overlooked.

Calcium is found in many minerals in soil, but is relatively insoluble in this state. Calcium is not considered a leach-able nutrient. Many soils will contain high levels of insoluble calcium such as calcium carbonate, but turf grown on these soils will often show a calcium deficiency.

High levels of other cations such as magnesium, ammonium, iron, aluminium and especially potassium, will reduce the calcium uptake in plants. A common misconception is that if the pH is high, adequate calcium is present but this is not always true.

Some of the symptoms of calcium deficiency are:

  • Necrosis (die back and yellowing) at the tips and margins of young leaves,
  • Deformation of affected leaves,
  • Highly branched, short, brown root systems,
  • Severe, stunted growth, and
  • General chlorosis (yellowing).

We must remember that these problems are caused by an inadequate supply of calcium to the affected tissues. These deficiencies can occur even when the soil appears to have an adequate presence of calcium.

This article is an excerpt from Performance Bowling Greens, a bowls-central eBook by John Quinn.

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