Cultivation of bell pepper for Farmers

Cultivation of bell pepper for Farmers

Bell pepper (Capsicum annuum) is one of the most consumed vegetables in Brazil, occupying a significant area of ​​cultivation. Its cultivation can take place both in the open field and in greenhouses, with cultivation in the open field responsible for the vast majority of the area occupied by this vegetable in Brazil, while cultivation in greenhouses is responsible for the production of fruits to be marketed ripe in red color, yellow and others. Among the main areas of cultivation are the states of São Paulo, Santa Catarina, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, and states in the Northeast. Despite the emphasis given to the mentioned states, bell pepper is present throughout the national territory.

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According to the preferences of the consumer market, the types of peppers to be planted are determined. Some markets prefer small peppers, hence the short or "block" peppers, very common in the North and Northeast regions of the country. The conical peppers are responsible for the most important cultivation area. Lately, consumers have opted for peppers with a more rectangular shape, 

that is, an intermediate shape between short and long conical, with a thicker wall and, therefore, with better consumption quality through good digestibility and better yield. This is the most consumed type of pepper in the Mercosur countries for which Brazil has become an important supplier.

Cultivation of bell pepper 

The big problem with intermediate-shaped peppers was their poor adaptability to open-field cultivation. Because they are mostly hybrids developed in Europe, where the occurrence of tropical climatic factors such as high temperature and excessive rainfall is very different from Brazilian conditions, such hybrids presented great difficulty in cultivation, mainly in the open field. 

Cultivation bell pepper 

The option for a tropical hybrid with such characteristics has been Athena's hybrid, which, as it was developed in Brazil, presents an excellent adaptation to our climatic conditions with great productive capacity, producing uniform fruits in size and shape from the beginning to the end of the cycle. This is in addition to being resistant to the phytophthora capsici soil fungus, known as wilting or pepper blight, which is very common throughout Brazil, especially in conditions of high temperature and rainfall.

Another serious problem would be viruses (PVY-m, TMV, and CMV). The control of such diseases takes place through the control of the vector (thrips) responsible for the transmission of the disease from one plant to another. A new hybrid is being launched on the market with "double resistance", that is, resistance to both phytophthora capsici and the PVY-m virus. Seeds will be available for field testing in 2001 under the trade name Híbrido Priscilla.

The cultivation practices of bell pepper fundamentally depend on the form of cultivation (whether in the open field or in greenhouses).

production tips

Pepper prefers well-ventilated, deep soil with good drainage, as it is a plant sensitive to root asphyxiation. It is a demanding plant when it comes to temperature, especially if the variety has thick flesh. The ideal for germination is around 25°C. The plant has adequate development with temperatures between 20 and 25°C; development is deficient when the temperature drops below 15°C and null with temperatures below 10°C.

The ideal temperature for flowering and fruiting is between 20 and 25°C, temperatures above 35°C compromise flowering and fruiting, causing abortion and flower drop, especially if the environment is dry and not very bright. Hence the advantage of choosing a hybrid adapted to our tropical climate.

Temperatures below 8-10°C reduce fruit quality, as they favor the formation of parthenocarpic fruits, which, with few or no seeds, are deformed and without commercial value. The adequate relative humidity is between 50 and 70%. Low humidity combined with high temperatures can cause flowers to drop.

seedling formation

It is recommended to use seedlings for transplanting. The use of these seedlings allows us to obtain strong, healthy plants with an abundant root system. For the ideal formation of seedlings, we must use trays or "cups" with the substrate. This "bed" must be well-drained, and disinfected, with good aeration. The use of necessary fungicides and insecticides is also fundamental.

When planting, seedlings should be planted homogeneously, very strong without reaching excessive "hardening", with short internodes, and a healthy and abundant root system. It is not advisable to exceed a density of 3 plants/m²; 2 to 2.5 plants/m² is more frequent. The most used planting spacings are 100-120 cm between single rows and 40-50 cm between plants. The spacing to be chosen will basically depend on the planting season (more densely in the winter or more spaced out in the summer when the plants need more space to grow).

Adequate spacing is always sought to ensure maximum ventilation and light for the plants. In the event of a lack of light, and sometimes an excess of nitrogen in the early stages, exuberant development can occur, causing the flowers and newly formed fruits to fall.

Installation of tutors

Depending on the type of variety and the planting season, it may be necessary to support the plants through the use of tutors, which must be simple, strong, and effective. This support is generally carried out using small stakes driven into the ground every 2-4m along the planting line. These tutors serve to support and secure the ribbon that passes between the plants in the planting line, preventing them from falling due to the action of the wind or the weight of the fruits.

Such staking is not feasible in regions where large areas of cultivation are used. In this case, you should choose a variety that has a fairly balanced growth so that the plants do not break.

In general, it can be said that the pepper plant has a uniform need for water throughout its cycle. This plant is sensitive to both root asphyxiation and drought. Excessive lack of water, among other factors, can cause the flowers to fall. Over-watering can lead to root asphyxiation, which causes root and foot rot. Irregularities in the water supply may favor the appearance of apical necroses. That is, watering should keep the soil moist, but without excess.

In order to achieve the complete adequacy of the production factors, one has to observe very carefully the conditions that we have in each cultivation condition:

  • * Type of soil (heavy, light, sandy),
  • * Climatology (heat, rain, etc.),
  • * Vegetative state of the plant (rooting, flowering, fruit thickness, excessive vegetation, etc.).

crop fertilization

With regard to fertilizer, we cannot give a concrete figure, given that cultivation conditions vary greatly from one region to another, even from one farm to another. The farmer should always consult a technician with the soil analysis in hand. We must look for rational fertilization, adapted at each moment to the needs of the crop. With the fertilizer, it will restore and, above all, complement the strong extractions carried out by the cultivation of peppers to reach the high yields that can currently be obtained.

The fertilizers used are organic matter and mineral fertilizers. The organic matter usually used is manure in its different types. Mineral fertilizers basically take nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and eventually microelements, including magnesium, which is very important for this species on a constant basis during cultivation.

  • Organic matter: Serves as an improver of the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the soil. It also makes the cultivar respond better to mineral fertilizers. Organic matter must be used before planting to avoid problems in cultivation - in case we use organic matter that has not been properly "cured". Normally, 40 to 50 tons/ha are used.
  • Nitrogen: Induces the rapid development of vegetation and has an impact on production. In excess, it causes an enlargement of the internodes, weakening the plant, causing flower abortion, and delaying maturation, at the same time making the plant more susceptible to diseases.

• Phosphorus: Favors flowering and fruiting, increases root growth in the early stages of cultivation, and increases plant resistance, in addition to acting on fruit quality.

• Potassium: Improves fruit weight, color, and quality. It makes them more resistant to conservation and transport. It is antagonistic to nitrogen and increases the "strength" of plants.

• Microelements: Given the high yields obtained in a short cycle, in general, shortages appear in difficult times for the plant (cold, etc...). This eventuality must be foreseen and applied preventively to obtain the desired results.

In the field, 40 tons/ha of manure plus a mineral fertilizer would be recommended, expressed in fertilizer units/ha in the following order:

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