Pepper

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Growing Pepper plants

Pepper (Capsicum annuum)

Pepper is a bushy plant that reaches a height of 20 to 30 inches (50-75 cm). It has small pale green leaves and white flowers. It belongs to the family Solanaceae. The fruit -depending on the variety- is long and tapered, spherical bell up, color green, yellow-green or red. There are many varieties, resulting in a great diversity of pepper fruits in size, colour and taste.

Professional Cultivation of Pepper

Scientifically, the pepper plant (as the tomato) is perennial. However, since we expect to collect many fruits from every pepper plant, we cultivate professionally the pepper plant as annual.

When cultivating professionally pepper, we should first select carefully the variety that matches our preferences and field characteristics. Then, we have to sow the seeds in pots preferably in a protected environment. About 3 weeks later, we have to select carefully the most vigorous plants and finally transplant them in the field.

Firstly, we must choose a variety of pepper that can grow well in our area depending on climatic conditions. Some varieties are more resistant to cold or heat than others.

On average, there are about 4500 pepper seeds per oz. (160 seeds of pepper per 1 gr). We need about 12- 17 oz. (350-500 grams) of pepper seed per hectare (which will give us about 30.000 to 50.000 plants finally). On early spring (20 February – 10 March), we carefully put 1-2 pepper seeds per pot in depth of 0.2 inches (0,5 to 1 cm) and we cover lightly with soil.  We place the pots in a protective shelter. We water the pots every other day for 20-30 days. When the plants have become 5-7 inches (12-15 cm) in height, we collect the most vigorous plants and we transplant them. Keep in mind that we should reject plants that have not been developed well, because most probably they will result in very low to zero production.

Then, we find the right place in the field to sow our plants. Peppers generally require full sun and soil with good drainage. Soil pH should be between 6.2 and 7. We have to prepare the soil by removing any stones and weeds and add fertilizer. We transplant only when it has been a month since the last frost. We transplant leaving a distance of18-30 inches (45-75 cm.) between rows and 15-17 inches (40-45 cm) between plants. We water often and make sure that the soil is moist. We can also add mulch to the soil. This will add nutrients to the soil that will help the peppers grow, while at the same time it will prevent the appearance of weeds. We fertilize when needed. We choose a fertilizer high in nitrogen. We have to irrigate well after fertilization so as to enhance the absorption. We harvested about two months after transplanting. To encourage the continuing production of peppers, we harvest the fruits just before they are ripe. Pepper plants give an average crop yield of 40 tons per hectare. 

Do you have experience in cultivating pepper? Please share your experience, methods and practices in the comments below.

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