A little salt poured on top of a fresh, handpicked tomato is one of the delightful treats of summer. Although salt is good on a tomato after picking, salt in a tomato plant during the growing process may cause a variety of issues, including discoloring, leaf damage and poor fruit development.
Yellow leaves that eventually fall off is an indication of salt damage. This usually occurs on older leaves as they accumulate salt. Salt damage will also affect the fruit of the plant, causing a rot of the fruit called bottom end rot, which creates a sinking area at the bottom of the fruit.
Poor water quality in your area may be the cause for excessive salt in the soil. Extremely hard water may carry too much salt. The salt from the water remains in the soil long after the water is used. Bottom rot of the fruit is caused by a calcium deficiency in the soil, which is caused by a buildup of fertilizer salts from nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.
Apply water when necessary and keep the water evenly distributed around the plant. Test your water supply for high levels of salinity. Use an alternative water source if necessary. Fertilize the soil properly to prevent the buildup of fertilizer salts. Select salt-resistant tomato varieties in the next season to prevent the problem.
Removing Salt from Soil
Excessive salt buildup will affect resistant varieties as well. It may be necessary to flush the salt from the soil. Salt is flushed from the soil by pouring magnetized water over the area. The magnetized water collects salt particles. This method is costly and may take several applications before it works properly.
Salt buildup and leaf damage is common in container plants. Salt builds up on the sides of the container. Fertilizers also build up quickly. Use a highly soluble fertilizer and water properly, suggests the University of Florida Extension. Repot the plant when an excessive amount appears, usually as a salty crust, on the soil's surface.