Guide to or­ganic pep­per pro­duc­tion

The Punch - - INDUSTRY -

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:

Re­search

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.

Wa­ter­ing

.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.

Stor­age

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.

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