Correct balanced nutrition of the crop prior to harvest, particularly calcium and boron nutrition can have positive effects against soft rots.
Evidence shows that strengthening the tuber cell wall with calcium can help reduce the severity of Erwinia soft rot in storage.
This study shows the relationship between calcium availability, peel calcium content and weight loss caused by Erwinia soft rot.
High levels of calcium in the tuber also reduce bruising risks at harvest and subsequent transportation. Varieties vary in their calcium uptake, however, using calcium nitrate rather than ammonium nitrate maximizes uptake, reduces the risk of damage allowing ingress of disease.
This trial from the USA shows that the use of calcium nitrate rather than ammonium nitrate resulted in higher levels of calcium in tubers over a range of different varieties.
Alongside potassium calcium and magnesium, boron is an important element present in the cell wall. Here it acts as cement between pectins, providing cohesive strength for cell tissues. Therefore boron affects tuber storage quality characteristics. Boron also affects calcium absorption, so supplies are important to ensure a balanced nutrition.
This trial shows how boron influences the calcium content of tubers and so also the incidence of internal rust spot.