Guide to organic pepper production
Whether you are growing sweet peppers (also referred to as bell peppers) or hot peppers, the growing instructions are essentially the same.
If you’re growing your peppers from seed, you will have far more variety choices than if you purchase pepper starts from a garden centre.
this article sourced from hofaai Farm and www. onthegreenfarms.com, tells us all about organic pepper production.
Before investing in pepper production, consider the following:
You have to find out the following before starting your organic pepper production, according to hofaai Farms.
• Target market and the quantity of pepper to produce
• What time of the year are prices highest or lowest?
Timing of the market in pepper production business is essential, for example; the peak price periods in Nigeria are the months of May, June and July.
So, you must target this period of the year to make your money from your pepper farm.
• Cost of production:
You must be able to identify all inputs and expenses. this will determine the cost of production and potential profitability of the venture.
• Cost of one acre of land. the cost of production for an acre of organic pepper farm will be based on your feasibility study with the following assumptions:
– Basic land preparation valuation.
– Seedlings will be purchased from a supplier or you do the nursing yourself.
– Irrigation of the pepper plants will depend on natural rainfall.
– the control of pest (thrips/ mites) and fungal diseases.
– Organic fertilizer / manure applied every month (eight applications).
• Spacing of pepper plants 2ft × 3ft.
• The pepper plant life span is nine months.
Soil requirement and preparation
Pepper can be produced on different soil types.
they grow best in sandy or loamy, fertile well drained soils.
For better results, farmers should avoid lands / sites that tend to stay wet, or accumulate water for days or weeks after rain fail.
Pepper plants depend on the soil for:
• physical support and anchor • nutrients
• water the degree to which the soil adequately provides these three factors depends on soil types, structure and management.
So, for proper pepper production, tillage/ridges are very important for adequate soil management and optimal yield.
Land preparation should involve enough tillage / ridging operation to make the soil suitable for transplanting and to provide the best soil structure for root growth and development.
the extent to which the root system of pepper plants develops depends on the soil profile.
the root will be restricted if the soil is hard.
Pepper is considered to be moderately deep rooted and when it is under favourable conditions roots will grow to a depth of 36 to 48 inches.
the majority of the roots will be in the upper 12 to 24 inches of soil.
Since root development is usually limited when the soil is compacted, proper tillage / ridges during land preparation is required to reduce soil compaction and hardness.
When the soil is properly tilled and ridged, it allows the root system to develop and access nutrients and water in the soil easily.
When the soil is hard, it affects the growth and significantly reduces pepper yield.
Since pepper performs poorly in excessively wet soil, a raised ridge improves drainage and helps prevent water logging in low or poorly drained soil.
Ridges are raised to three to eight inches high.
Apply poultry drops weeks before transplanting or apply humicplus and transplant after three days.
Planting pepper in flat ground has been tried with moderate success, but often, crops are killed with herbicide.
there should be adequate weed and disease control because flat ground transplant can only be used on limited basis in commercial pepper production.
• Seeds and germination
If you want your seeds to germinate optimally, soil temperature should be in the 75F-85°F (optimum 85°F)
If you have purchased seeds, they will usually last for up to two years if stored in a cool, dry location.
Getting started indoors (and transplanting)
• Soak pepper seeds before planting to accelerate germination
• Place seeds in a glass a few hours or until seeds sink to the bottom.
Some recommend planting your seeds in individual peat pots to avoid disturbing the roots later.
transplant only one time indoors due to the sensitivity of the root system.
Plant three seeds per pot (or cell).
Once two true leaves have developed, observe which plant is strongest. Clip the other two at ground level.
If you are growing your peppers in a sunny window, be sure that they have access to enough light and warmth. these plants need a minimum of 10 hours of light (artificial or natural) daily for proper growth. Fourteen-16 hours is recommended.
Once the third true leaf develops, peppers can handle night temperatures as low as 55°F but you do not want the soil temperature to drop below 60°F.
A two week “hardening off” period (taking your plants outside during the daytime) will keep your plants from any climatic shock upon being transplanted to your garden.
the slightly lower temperatures will increase flower and fruit production.
.Growing peppers need moist conditions for germination as well as throughout the growing season
• Watering should be consistent and even; allowing the soil to dry out can change the flavor of your peppers
Companion planting / rotation
• Keep peppers from growing where tomatoes and eggplant have previously grown.
• Tomatoes and eggplant are members of the nightshade family and are prone to the same diseases as peppers.
When to harvest
As soon as your peppers are ready to use and before they are ripe, pick a few. This will signal the plant to produce more fruit
Pick individual peppers as they ripen throughout the season.
According to www. onthegreenfarms.com,harvested peppers can be stored by either freezing or drying.
to freeze, simply wash the peppers, cut up into desired pieces or slices, removing the inner core and seeds. Place in Ziploc bags and store in the freezer.
to dry, follow the same instructions for washing and cutting.
Pieces should not touch each other on dehydrator drying racks.
Be certain the meaty pieces are dry all the way through.