BELL PEPPER GUIDE OF FERTILIZATION
May 29, 2017

BELL PEPPER

The bell pepper (also known as sweet pepper or pepper in the United Kingdom, Canada and Ireland, and capsicum in Australia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Singapore and New Zealand) is a cultivar group of the species Capsicum annuum. Cultivars of the plant produce fruits in different colors, including red, yellow, orange, green, chocolate/brown, vanilla/white, and purple. Bell peppers are sometimes grouped with less pungent pepper varieties as "sweet peppers". The whitish ribs and seeds inside bell peppers may be consumed, but some people find the taste to be bitter.

Peppers are native to Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. Pepper seeds were imported to Spain in 1493, and from there spread to other European, African, and Asian countries. Today, China is the world's largest pepper producer, followed by Mexico and Indonesia.

Ideal growing conditions for bell peppers include warm soil, ideally 21 to 29 °C (70 to 84 °F), that is kept moist but not waterlogged.Bell peppers are sensitive to an abundance of moisture and extreme temperatures. 

Pepper is used as a fresh vegetable, pickled vegetable, fresh chili spice and dried paprika powder.

Growth stages of plants consist of four general periods

Vegetative growth from planting or seeding to first flowering.

From flowering to fruit set.

Fruit ripening to first harvest.

From first to last harvest.

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FERTILIZATION

Nitrogen (N) contributes to the vegetative growth of the pepper plant. It is important that the plant, when reaching the flowering stage, will be well developed vegetatively; or it will have a low yielding potential. Pepper plants were found to positively respond (by increasing number of flowers and fruits) to higher nitrogen concentrations than the usual norms for other crops.

Phosphorus (P) is essential for the normal development of the roots and reproductive organs (flowers, fruit, seeds). Highly available phosphorous is needed for the establishment of the transplant. Phosphorus shortage in the soil will result in development of too small and short branches, many undeveloped buds and less fruit in general. Adequate phosphorus enhances early fruit ripening.

Potassium (K) - adequate levels enhance the accumulation of carbohydrates and the resistance to low temperatures and diseases.

Potassium deficiency slows down the growth rate of pepper plants. Potassium deficiency symptoms are: brown spots at the edges of the leaves and fruits, and sometimes there is curling and drying of the leaves. Severe potassium deficiency will retard the transportation of sugars within the plant, leading to starch accumulation in the lower leaves.

Calcium (Ca)

Peppers are highly sensitive to calcium deficiency, which is manifested in the Blossom-end rot (BER) symptom on the fruits. Salinity conditions severely enhance BER intensity. But manganese (Mn) was recently found to serve as antioxidant in pepper fruit hence the addition of manganese to peppers grown under salinity may alleviate BER symptoms in the fruits. Special care must be taken to avoid growing conditions, which enhance BER phenomenon.

Zinc (Zn)

Zinc nutrition in plants seems to play a major role in the resistance to salt in pepper and other crops. Adequate zinc (Zn) nutritional status improves salt stress tolerance, possibly, by affecting the structural integrity and controlling the permeability of root cell membranes. Adequate Zn nutrition reduces excessive uptake of sodium (Na+) by roots in saline conditions.

Sensitivity to salinity

Under saline conditions, sodium cations compete with the potassium cations for the uptake sites in the roots, and chloride competes for the uptake of nitrate-nitrogen and will reduce yield. Calcium may help to suppress the uptake of sodium. When sufficient calcium is available, the roots prefer uptake of potassium to sodium, and sodium uptake will be suppressed.

Sensitivity to soil-borne diseases

Peppers are prone to soil-borne diseases caused by fungi, viruses or bacteria.  Therefore it is recommended to avoid growing peppers on plots that used for other sensitive crops (tomatoes, eggplants, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, cotton, soybeans and others) on recent years. A regime of 3-year rotation between small grains and pepper is recommended.