The A-Z of Capsicum Farming

Capsicums also called peppers belong to the Solanaceae family. There are many species that exist. In our local Kenyan market we are used to Capsicum annuum and Capsicum frutescens.

Capsicum (Capsicum annum) is a tender, warm season crop belonging to the solanaceae family. In Kenya, capsicum farming performs well in relatively hot areas like in Eastern and Coastal regions.

Benefits of capsicum

  • Excellent source of vitamin A and C
  • Has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties
  • Rich in antioxidants which are essential in maintaining good health.
  • Rich in potassium which helps in regulation of blood pressure
  • Source of dietary fiber
  • Good source of vitamin B6 and folate which lower homocystein level

Ecological Requirements

Capsicums can be grown outdoors or indoors (in greenhouses) depending on the varieties.

The crop requires slightly warmer temperatures. Optimum temperatures for fruit setting are between 16- 21°C whereas for good fruit development, night temperatures of 15–17°C and day temperatures of 24–30°C are required. Capsicums do not tolerate frost. During cold weather, the fruits remain small, hard and malformed and may also have numerous growth cracks.

It grows well in altitudes of up to 2,000M above sea level with a rainfall of 800-1200mm per annum, in well drained soils that are rich in nutrients and with a pH range of 5.5 – 6.5.

Seed selection

Some of the varieties grown in Kenya include;

·         Commandant F1 ·         Admiral F1
·         Maxibel ·         Buffalo F1
·         California wonder ·         Pasarella f1
·         Ilanga F1 ·         Yolo wonder
·         Green Bell F1

These varieties have a green primary colour. However, on ripening, some develop different colours including yellow and red among others.[vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner][vc_single_image image=”13687″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” image_hovers=”false”][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner]

FIELD OPERATIONS

Planting

Propagation of capsicum is by seeds, which are first raised in a nursery before transplanting into the main field.

Land preparation

The land should be thoroughly prepared by ploughing and harrowing to a clean and fine tilth. To get rid of both broadleaf and grass weeds, spray them with CATAPULT® 480SL 10 ml/L which is a systemic non-selective weedkiller.

Raising seedlings

Procedure
  • Prepare the nursery bed, about 1 metre wide against the required length.
  • Drench the soil with a mixture of LOYALTY® 700WDG 10 g + PYRAMID® 700WP 100 g + OPTIMIZER® 20 ml in 20 litres of water. This mixture controls soil pest and diseases, provides nutrients, breaks seed dormancy and promotes uniform germination.
  • Sow seeds at a depth of about 2 cm and cover them lightly with soil.
  • Cover nursery bed with a thin layer of mulch.
  • Water the nursery bed.

Tips!

  • Seeds germinate within 2 to 3 weeks depending on the variety and the ecological conditions.
  • The beds should be shaded to protect the seedlings from direct sunlight and strong wind.
  • Proper nutrition promotes production of strong and healthy seedlings hence a healthy crop when transplanted.
  • To overcome transplanting shock, spray seedlings with OPTIMIZER 10 ml/20L.

Transplanting

Seedlings are ready for transplanting after attaining 4-5 leaves, which is approximately 6 to 7 weeks after sowing. To harden the young plants, the rate of irrigation should be reduced, a week before transplanting, and the shading withdrawn. Before lifting the seedlings, the nursery bed should be irrigated.

Procedure
  • Make raised or sunken beds on the prepared land.
  • Mix soil with manure and DAP. For efficient and improved nutrient uptake and stimulation of root development, among other benefits, mix 1 kg HUMIPOWER® with 50 kg DAP and /or 1 ton of manure.
  • Irrigate the beds to allow for easy planting.
  • Plant the seedlings in the beds at a spacing of 75 cm by 45 cm.

Tips!

  • Transplanting is best when done early in the morning or in the evenings, or in a dull weather.
  • Transplant only the healthy and strong seedlings.

Weeding

Capsicum does not compete well with weeds and therefore the field should be kept weed-free. These weeds cause significant losses because they compete for growth factors like nutrients and water and harbour pathogens which could attack the crop.

When the crop begins flowering, weeding should be minimized in order to prevent disturbances. However, if need be, the weeds can be uprooted.

Tip!

  • Proper weed control with CATAPULT 480SL 10 ml/L before planting the crop significantly reduces weed development throughout the season.
  • Shallow cultivation should be done in order to avoid root injury.

Irrigation

Capsicum requires adequate water supply for optimal production. Inadequate water supply causes stress, wilting, flowers abortion and development of physiological disorders like blossom end rot. Whenever water stress is observed, OPTIMIZER 10 ml/20L should be sprayed as an anti-transpirant and stress manager.

Crop rotation

This practice helps in pests and disease management by breaking the development cycles of the pathogens. Rotation should be done with non-solanaceous crops like tomato.

Fertilizer application

In order to ensure optimal production, the crop should be supplied with sufficient nutrients throughout its season, which entails the supply of both macro and micro nutrient elements.

Planting

apply 50 kg of DAP in one acre before planting, which is rich in phosphorous. Other fertilizers like TSP can also be used.

After 1 to 2 weeks, spray the young plants with LAVENDER SUPER START® 1 ml/L or GOLDCHANCE SUPER START® 5 g/L, which promotes root formation and early crop development.

Top dressing

Top dress the crop with CAN, 2 to 3 weeks after transplanting at a rate 50 kg per acre and after 4 to 5 weeks, at rate of 100 kg per acre. Other nitrogen-rich fertilizers like urea can be applied too.

Spray the crop with GOLDCHANCE SUPER GROWTH® 5 g/L or LAVENDER SUPER GROWTH® 1 ml/L, which promotes rapid vegetative growth.

Reproduction stage

When the crop reaches the flowering and fruiting growth stages, apply N.P.K at a rate of 50 kg per acre.

In order to ensure quality and quantity production of the crop, spray it with GOLDCHANCE SUPER FLOWERS & FRUITS® 5 g/L or DIMIPHITE® 1 ml/L or GOLDCHANCE MULTISUPER K® 5 g/L or LAVENDER SUPER FLOWERS & FRUITS® 1 ml/L.

Tips!

  • Soil testing is important because it helps in determining the soil fertility status.
  • All basal fertilizers should be mixed with HUMIPOWER® at a rate of 1 kg of HUMIPOWER® into 50 Kg of fertilizer.
  • OPTIMIZER® is an organic biostimulant which is essential for plant growth and stress management. It can be applied at all or any growth and development phase of the crop.
  • Manure should be applied especially for soils with little or no organic matter.

Yield

If proper maintenance of the crop is ensured, 5 to 8 tonnes can be realized. However, this depends on the variety grown.

Harvesting

Harvesting can begin 2.5 to 3 months after planting, depending on the ecological conditions and the variety grown, and this can continue for 4 to 6 times if good management is ensured.

Depending on the purpose for which the crop is grown and the availability of market, harvesting can be done at green, partially green and red or yellow colour stages.

The harvested fruits should be placed under shade for sorting, grading and packaging.

Post-harvest Handling

Sorting- this involves removing the bruised/damaged, malformed or diseased fruits.

Grading the fruits are graded according to shape, size and colour.

Packaging the fruits are packaged in corrugate cartons or in crated.

Storage and transportation– these should be done in cool conditions at relative humidity of 95-98%.

Tips!

  • A mature green fruit is usually firm, thick-walled and bright green.
  • The demand for capsicum in the market is relatively higher than the supply. Some of the market opportunities for the produce include food processors, supermarkets, and wholesale markets, among others.

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Major Diseases & Pests

Pests

Cutworms

These are soft bodied, smooth caterpillars, brown to black in colour, which cut seedlings or young plants near the soil level mainly during morning and evening hours. When disturbed, they curl up tightly. Heavy infestations cause significant crop loss.

Drench soil with PROFILE® 440EC 3 ml/L or PENTAGON® 50EC 1 ml/L

Thrips

These are small, slender insects with fringed wings and unique asymmetrical mouth parts which feed on leaves, flowers and tender fruits by sucking the sap. Infestation causes distortion of leaves, stunted growth, sunken tissues on leaf underside, silvery appearance on flowers and scarring of fruits.

Spray ALONZE® 50EC 5ml/20L or BAZOOKA® 18EC 0.5 ml/L or OCCASION STAR® 200SC 3 ml/20L or DEFENDER® 25EC 2 ml/L

Red spider mites

These are tiny sucking pests which are usually found on the underside of leaves and spin protective silk webs. Infested leaves turn yellow and curl upwards and heavy infestation causes death of the leaf. Crops under water or drought stress are more likely to suffer serious damages by the pest.

Spray the same treatment as for thrips above.

Aphids

These are usually light green and soft bodied, and cluster on the undersides of the leaf or on stems. They feed by sucking plant’s sap with severe infestations causing wilting, stunting and leaf curling and distortion. They also excrete a sticky sugary substance called honeydew, which encourages the growth of sooty mold.

Spray KINGCODE ELITE® 50EC 0.5 ml/L or PENTAGON® 50EC 0.5 ml/L or LEXUS® 247SC 8ml/20L

To get rid of the sooty mold, spray JAMBO CLEAN® 5 ml/L.

Whiteflies

These are white and winged insects which suck plant sap and excrete honeydew where molds grow, affecting plant’s growth and vigour. The affected plant loses its vitality due to sap sucking resulting yellowing, downward curling and finally drying of leaves. They are also vectors of Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl virus.

Spray as for aphids above.

To get rid of the sooty mold, spray as for the aphids above.

Root knot nematodes

These are microscopic parasites found in the soil and whose infestation leads to formation of galls/swellings on the roots, which reduces plant vigour thus causing stunting of the plants and eventual death.

Drench soil with ALONZE® 50EC 0.5 ml/L or mix basal fertilizer, 50 kg, with 2 kg of ADVENTURE® 0.5GR.[vc_single_image image=”13692″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” image_hovers=”false”]

Diseases

Damping-off

This is a soilborne disease caused by Pythium spp, Rhizoctonia spp, and Fusarium spp which frequently occurs in the nursery.  The diseased seeds do not germinate while the emerged seedlings rot and eventually die. White cottony growth is seen on the roots of the infected seedlings.

Drench the soil with PYRAMID® 700WP 5 g/L and spray the crop with DOMAIN® 250EC 0.5 ml/L or GEARLOCK TURBO® 250WP 25g/20L

Anthracnose

It is caused by a Colletotrichum spp. Disease symptoms are mostly noticeable on fruits as circular black or brown sunken lesions and when wet the centres of these lesions become purplish coloured due to a mass of fungal spores. Water soaked sunken lesions also develop on the leaves and stems.

The A-Z of Capsicum Farming- Greenlife Crop Protection Africa

Anthracnose lesion on pepper fruit

Spray RANSOM® 600WP 15g/20L or ABSOLUTE® 375SC 0.5 ml/L or DUCASSE® 250EW 1 ml/L or KATERINA® 720SC 2 ml/L

Bacterial wilt

This is a soil borne disease caused by the bacterium Ralstonia solanacearum. Infection causes wilting, which starts with the young leaves. However, these leaves seem to recover during the cool weather. The vascular tissues become discoloured turning yellow to brownish, and as infection progresses, they become dark brown to black. When the stem is cut under water, white slimy sticky ooze is seen. The wilted crop eventually dies.

Spray GREEN COP® 500WP 2.5 g/L, a copper-based product which suppress the activity of the pathogen.

Bacterial canker

This disease is caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium michiganese. Infection leads to development of scabby canker spots on the fruits. It may also produce local lesions on fruits, stems and leaves, but does not induce systemic infection on the plant.

Spray as for Bacterial Wilt above.

Bacterial soft rot

This is caused by the bacterium Erwinia carotovora, which causes soft rot of the fruit. On infection, the internal tissue of the fruit softens, turns into a watery mass and produces a foul smell. The disease is favoured by hot and humid weather conditions and the rot can worsen after harvesting, in transit and in the market.

Spray as for Bacterial Canker above.

Powdery mildew

This disease is caused by the fungus Leveillula taurica. Symptoms are initially seen as whitish talcum-like powdery growth on upper leaf surface and as infection progresses, the other parts also get infected. Severely infected parts become chlorotic and eventually die.  Stunted growth is evident.

Spray as for Athracnose above.

Phytophthora blight

It is caused by the fungus Phytophthora capsici. It affects all plant parts causing foliar blight, fruit rot, and root rot and spreads very fast when humidity and temperature are high and/or the soil is wet. In severe cases, wilting occurs and the crop dies with few days. , and within days, the plant dies.

Spray GEARLOCK TURBO® 250WP 25 g/20L or FORTRESS GOLD® 720WP 2 g/L or TOWER® 720WP 2.5 g/L

Fusarium wilt

This is a soil borne disease caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum. Initially, symptoms appear like vein clearing on the young leaves and dropping of the older lower leaves. As infection progresses, the leaves turn yellow and wilt. The brown vascular tissues are brownish in colour but do not produce a slimy substance when the stem is cut under water, like in the case of bacterial wilt.

Drench soil with GREEN COP® 500WP 5g/L

Foliar spray PYRAMID® 700WP 2.5 g/L or ABSOLUTE® 375SC 0.5 ml/L after every 2 weeks.

Tips!

  • In all foliar sprays, mix the chemical with INTEGRA 3 ml/20L, which is a sticker, spreader and penetrant that increases the efficacy of the product.
  • Alternating different chemicals during the crop’s season prevents resistance build-up by the pest/pathogen.

Physiological Disorders

Blossom End Rot

Small water-soaked area on end of fruit where the blossom was occurring or on the side of unripe fruit; lesion enlarges and turns sunken, tan brown and leathery in appearance.

Physiological disorder; low calcium may result from competition from other ions in soil e.g. potassium; can also be caused by drought stress; fluctuations in soil moisture or application of excessive amounts of nitrogen fertilizer which promotes rapid vegetative growth.

Management

Maintain soil pH at 6.5; lime soil to increase the concentration of calcium in soil and decrease competition with other ions; use mulch to reduce drought stress; avoid ammonium fertilizers as they may increase competition with calcium by increasing ammonium ions in soil, use nitrate instead; avoid over fertilizing.

Blossom End Rot

Anything that reduces the plants ability to uptake calcium can lead to the development of this disorder, with one of the main reasons being the availability of water. Symptoms begin as a small, water soaked light brown spot at the blossom end of the fruit.

Application of calcium-rich fertilizers like FERRARI GOLD and maintenance of moisture consistence are recommended.

Sunscald

This occurs as a result of exposure to excessive direct sunlight on the fruits, especially those that have been growing in a shaded canopy. The fruit develops a whitish or necrotic area on the side of the fruit which is exposed to the sun. Secondary infections by fungi are common. The condition can be managed by keeping the fruits shaded by the crop’s leaves.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 7, 2023 at 5:16 am

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