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Saturday, May 24

Pepper Production

What is the beauty of bell peppers: The flavour? The scent? The culinary works of art that can be fashioned out of them? Maybe is is the bold colours that make our creations come alive.
Consumer preference for this large pepper also called sweet pepper, creates a demand and economic opportunities for the farmer. By farmer's account, the pepper of preference is for the Taiwanese varieties available locally: Blue Star; Bright Star and Yellow Star. These varieties have a greater yield compared to the variety, King Arthur.

Pepper Problems

The main disease challenges observed so far in my adventures in agriculture are fusarium wilt and bacterial wilt. These are both soilborne diseases.

Fusarium Wilt

This wilt is caused by a fungus. The plants, wilted in appearance begin to rot from the base of the stems upwards. On uprooting the dying/dead plants, white fungus is observed growing at the roots. Dieback is on one side of the stem accompanied by yellowing of leaves.

Chemical applications available at local input stores:
  • Banrot
  • Rizolex
  • Bio Life 20
  • Phyton 27
  • Capton

Bacterial Wilt

As this name suggests, this wilt is caused by a bacterium .In this case, the wilted leaves maintain their green colour.  The foliage will appear wilted during the day with seeming recovery during the cooler parts of the day. The lower stem will also exhibit brown discoloration.

Chemical applications available on the local input stores:
  • Phyton 27
  • Biolife 20 
With such close symptoms, simple science experiments allows us the capacity to diagnose this disease.
You can test for bacterial wilt by placing a cutting of the affected stem in a clear glass container filled with clean water and observing for the appearance of a white milky stream which indicates the presence of bacteria. 

Plant diseases take a toll on important resources of time and money. The farm can suffer from major economic losses as  these diseases can affect the plant at any stage of the life cycle. The disappointment of crop loss during the crucial stage of flowering and fruiting is a farmer's nightmare. But do not be discouraged. The adage, "Prevention is better than cure" holds true in this situation. Prevention begins before planting. Perform a hot water treatment on seeds; Practice crop rotation; Plant resistant varieties. Follow up with cultural practices of weed management, efficient fertiliser application and irrigation. 

Interesting Fact

Apart from the mainstream bell pepper colours of red, yellow and orange, purple and brown are also available. I was able to witness this on exhibit at the Ethiopian boooth at the Fruit Logistica 2014. How receptive would the local market be to those colours?
Purple Bell Peppers
Brown Bell Peppers

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