Organic Capsicum Farming – Bell Pepper Cultivation

Introduction to Organic Capsicum Farming

Organic Capsicum Farming – Bell Pepper Cultivation

Capsicum is an important commercial vegetable crop and it is a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family Solanaceae. Capsicum is grown throughout the world and it is also known as sweet pepper, bell pepper, Shimla Mirch, or Hoho. Capsicum can be grown in a Greenhouse, Polyhouse, or an open field. It is a good source of vitamins A and C and used as a vegetable stew or salads. The Capsicum is rarely attacked by diseases and does well in warm areas. It attains a height of about 75 cm.

A Guide Organic Capsicum Farming or Organic Bell Pepper Farming

The plant has small flowers which are white or purple which bears fruits. Capsicums are a delicious and tender, warm loving crop of about 21 to 27ºC. Organic Capsicum farming keeps soil healthy by improving biological life and helps to improve crop yields. It is based on principles of the restoration of soil organic matter in the form of humus and increasing microbial population.

Organic Bell Pepper Farming

The Capsicum Growing States in   

   is one of the largest producers of Capsicum. It not only produces for its domestic use, but it also uses for exports.    exports Capsicum to various countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and UAE, etc. Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Gujrat, and Goa are the Capsicum producing states in   .

Different Varieties of Capsicum

Capsicum varieties are mainly identified by the mature color which can be green, red, or yellow. Other colors of Capsicum may contain orange, black, cream, brown, and lime-colored varieties. The guideline in choosing a crop variety should be that it is resistant to disease, produce higher yields of fruit, produce more uniform fruit, or be more suited to the latest market requirements.

Popular varieties with their yield;

Bomby (red color) – It is an early maturing crop variety. This crop variety has a tall and strong plant having good branching. It requires adequate shelter for fruit development. It contains dark green color fruits which become red at the time of maturity having an average weight of about 130-150 gm. It has a longer shelf life and ideal for long-distance transportation.

Orobelle (yellow color) – The fruits become yellow color at the time of maturity having an average weight of about 150 gm. It is disease resistant crop variety which can be grown in the open field and greenhouses.

Indra (green) – This variety has a bushy appearance and it has dark green color leaves having dense foliage. Fruits are dark green with an average weight of about 170 gm. Fruit development starts after 50 to 55 days of sowing. This variety is ideal for long-distance transportation and has a longer shelf life. It gives an average yield of 110 quintals/acre.

Other state variety;

The important varieties of Capsicum grown in    are California Wonder, World Beater, Yolo Wonder Bharat, ArkaMohini, ArkaGaurav, ArkaBasant, and Early Giant. Bullnose, King of North, Chinese Giant, and Ruby King, etc.

Organic Soil Requirement for Capsicum Farming

Capsicum has shallow roots and hence benefit from loose soil texture. The soil should be slightly acidic with a pH level range of 5.8 to 6.5. Although Capsicum can be grown in almost all types of soils, well-drained clay loam soil is considered ideal for its cultivation. It can withstand acidity to a certain extent. Levelled and raised beds have been found more suitable than sunken beds for Capsicum cultivation. The crop can be successfully grown on sandy loam soils, provided the manuring is done heavily and the crop is irrigated properly.

Soil Requirement for Capsicum Farming

The selection of soil is an important decision in Capsicum farming. Soil selection for Capsicum cultivation following point must be considered;

  • The most suitable pH level range of soil for green pepper is 6 to 6.5.
  • The salinity level of the soil should not be more than about 1 ms/cm, Therefore, as soon as you choose the site, analyzes the soil for further improvement.
  • The soil must be highly porous and should be well-drained so that the roots can be improved and the better penetration of the roots.
  • The land should be thoroughly ploughed and soil must be brought to a fine tilth. Well decomposed organic manure at the rate of 20-25 kg per square meter is mixed with soil. Raised beds for Capsicum crops are formed after bringing soil to a fine tilth. The bed size must be 90-100 centimeters wide and 15-22 centimeters in height. Between the beds walking space of about 45 to 50 centimeters need to be provided.

Ecological Requirements for Organic Capsicum Farming

  • Capsicum is sensitive to frost and the optimum temperature levels for proper growth are 15 to 25ºC.
  • The Capsicum grows well in altitudes of up to 2,000 meters above sea level.
  • Capsicum can grow on moist well-drained loamy soils with a pH level of 6.0 to 6.5
  • The crops like sunny position with warm, loamy soil that is moist but not waterlogged. Extremely moist soils can cause seedlings to “damp-off” and reduce seed germination.
  • The Capsicum plants will tolerate (but do not like) temperatures down to 12°C and they are sensitive to cold. For flowering, it is a non-photoperiod-sensitive crop. The flowers can self-pollinate. However, at extremely high-temperature level 33 to 38°C, pollen loses viability, and flowers are much less likely to pollinate successfully.

Selection of Planting Material for Organic Capsicum Farming

  • The planting material must be healthy, resistant to diseases, and pests.
  • Age of the seedling must be 35 to 40 days old.
  • Height of the seedling should be 16 to 20 cm.
  • The plant should possess a good rooting system.
  • The seedling should have at least 4 to 6 leaves on the stem at the time of plantation.
  • Other characteristics such as fruit shape, fruit color, production, fruit quality, and vigor should also be considered while selecting plant material of a good variety of Capsicum.

Sowing Time in Organic Capsicum Farming

The Capsicum is generally sown in August for the autumn-winter crop and in November for the spring-summer crop. In the hills of North Bengal sowing of seeds in the months of March-April (undercover) and September -October is successful for getting high yield. Capsicum plants sown in September and October take the longest period for development because of poor availability of light in the winter season.

Spacing and Planting Requirements in Organic Capsicum Farming

The spacing for Capsicum plants is about 60cm x 70cm and planting should preferably be done in a raised bed and in-pit size of about 15x20cm.

Raising the Seedling of Capsicum

Capsicum seedlings are first raised in the nursery beds and then transplanted in the main fields. Normally, 5 to 6 seedbeds of size each are sufficient for one-hectare cultivation. Seed should be sown in rows at 8 to 10 cm apart to get healthy seedlings. The seeds should be dressed with Ceresan, Thiram, or Captan by 2 g per kg seed before sowing to prevent the occurrence of any seed-borne diseases. About 1 to 2 kg of seeds are required for one-hectare cultivation depending on the cultivar. The seeds must be properly covered with a thin layer of soil manure mixture or any other media and irrigated with a sprinkler to maintain optimum moisture till the seeds germinate.

Land preparation – For planting the seedlings, the main field is prepared by ploughing the land 5 to 6 times followed by smooth planking. Farmyard manure or compost is added after the first ploughing so that it is carefully mixed in the soil during subsequent ploughings.

Nursery management and transplanting – For organic Capsicum farming, nursery beds are raised firstly. Seedbeds of about 300 x 60 x 15cm are prepared to raise seedlings. Then, seeds are sown in raised nursery beds and after sowing cover the nursery beds with a thin layer of soil manure. Light irrigation is necessary after seed sowing in raising beds for optimum germination of seeds.

Transplanting is done when seedlings attain 4 to 5 leaves. Transplanting is done in prepared fields and it is mainly done in the evening during cloudy weather. Mainly 50-60 old seedlings are used for transplanting. Then, apply water to the nursery beds before transplanting so that seedling can be easily uprooted.

Organic Nutrient Management in Capsicum Farming or Bell Pepper Cultivation

FYM should be applied by 5.0 kg/m2 along with neem cake by 200g/m2. At the time of planting, seedlings must be treated with Azospirillum + PSB culture (20%) for 15 minutes. The addition of vermicomposting by 1kg/m2 after one month of planting improves growth. The nutrients must be properly managed as deficiency causes poor fruit development and fruit size.

The organic fertilizers provide the nutritional requirements of Capsicum plants. Also, they increase the microbial activity in the soil, organic matter, and carbon content of the soil. Organic fertilizers produce the crop yield and quality of crops in ways similar to inorganic fertilizers. Also, organic manure can serve as an alternative practice to mineral fertilizers for improving soil structure. Organic manure plays a direct role in plant growth as a source of all necessary macro and micronutrients in available forms during mineralization and also improves the physical and chemical properties of soils.

Depending on your climate, the watering schedule will vary. As the Capsicum plants mature, the watering required is less about twice a week allowing a good soak of the soil. Keep the soil moist not soggy. Fertilize regularly. We have a monthly cycle and spray Epsom salt (one tablespoon of Epsom salts in a gallon of water) to the plant towards the harvesting season since it helps to increase crop yield and size of the bell peppers. They may require stakes or support (like tomato cages) as they grow to prevent bending. Remove weeds growing around the Capsicum plant.

Irrigation Requirement for Capsicum Farming

Immediately after plantation, irrigation required to start the first shower is required to use after some days drip irrigation use this will help for uniform root growth of a plant.

Generally, a dripper per plant is required. Depending on the growing season, drip irrigation is given to provide 2 to 4 liters of water per square meter. In hot summer, a fogger can be used to keep the air humidity. Inspect the soil column for irrigation and visually check the soil moisture content in the soil. After this, determine the amount of irrigation required. In summer, apply water to the edges of the bed repeatedly by using the shower to reduce the loss of evaporator. Always pour the plant water from noon. The relative humidity of air should not be more than 90 to 92% because it is inclined to disturb the fruit. Always use fresh water for irrigation. Do not store water for about 4 to 5 days.

Weed Control and Pruning in Organic Capsicum Farming

Good weed management in Capsicum begins with careful field selection. Avoid weed pressure from grasses and perennial weeds, since these are difficult and expensive to manage. This is critical to organic Capsicum production because the Capsicums will be in the ground for up to 8 months.

Use pre-irrigation whenever practical and it can save significant weeding costs and ensure deep moisture to facilitate good initial crop growth. Form beds, then overhead water with 1–1.5 inches of water. Following weed flush; rework beds with a rolling cultivator or another suitable cultivation tool to destroy newly germinated weeds before planting.

Fruit Thinning in Organic Capsicum Farming

When there are too many fruits on the Capsicum plant, it is necessary to remove some fruits, to promote the development of remaining fruits. This operation is known as fruit thinning. The fruit thinning process is done when the fruit is pea-size. This practice is followed to increase the size of fruit thus increasing the quality of production.

Organic Pests and Diseases Control in Capsicum Framing or Bell Pepper Farming

Pests such as aphids, whiteflies, and red spider mites are problematic for Capsicum plants. There are many solutions to deal with these pests. You can get rid of aphids and whiteflies in plants with derris or fatty acid sprays.

Capsicum cultivation continuously for many years increases the probability of several types of pests and diseases. Aphid, White Fly, Tobacco Caterpillar, Fruit caterpillar, and Fruit rot, etc are some of the major diseases.

Pests like whiteflies and aphids are commonly visible in these plants and neem oil can be great for keeping them off. With plant proper care, you can enjoy the fruits in two months of the plantation.

Organic ways to prevent pests in Capsicum;

Polythene Sheets – To protect the land from pests and diseases, cover the fields with polythene sheet for 3 weeks to prevent the soil from getting heating up.

Neem Extract – Sprinkle Neem extract slurry for juice sucking insects in Capsicum plants and this spraying must be done 3 times in 15 to 20 days of interval. Then, this leads to preventing the juice sucking insects.

Neem Fruits – Use Neem fruit, for that grind about 5 kg Neem Fruit finely and make a bundle of it in a fine cloth and then soak it in 10 liters of water. Prepare about 100 liters of a solution by mixing 1-kilogram soap and suppressing neem fruit bundle to extract every single drop of it in the morning. It is used to reduce the outbreaks of juice sucking insects like whitefly and aphid-like disease.

Organic Pesticides for Capsicum Pests;

Generally, organic pesticides are a good alternative to chemicals. Soap spray also works well, and all it contains is soap and water. Simply make a mixture of soap and water, and spray or pour it directly over the Capsicum plants. If you use natural soap, this soap solution is safe for the environment as well.

Commercial organic pesticides use natural ingredients as well and work similarly to chemical pesticides in that you apply them to the Capsicum plants to control pests and weeds. However, buying these products can be expensive, so it’s easier on the wallet to make your pesticides.

Capsicum Diseases and their Control;

Bacterial wilt – Wilt is the most devastating disease in Capsicum caused by soil-borne bacteria. It infects and destroys the Capsicum plants by wilting them. Its infection is most rapid in the waterlogged condition.

Management

  • Soil drenching with Pseudomonas culture by 2 % before planting.
  • Also, soil drenching with Bordeaux mixture (1:1:100) after 15 days of planting.

Leaf spot – Leaf spot is one of the important diseases which cause severe damage by dropping leaves and fruits. It is mainly caused by Cercospora and Colletotrichum.

Management

  • Removal and burning of affected leaves
  • Spraying with Bordeaux mixture (1:1:100) after 15 days of planting

Leaf curl – Leaf curl and mosaic are the most common viral diseases of Capsicum.

Management

  • Cultivation of resistant plant variety.
  • Removal and destruction of affected plants.

Fruit borer – Fruit borer is the most important pest of Capsicum. It causes serious damage during the fruit development stage. The larva feeds on the pulp by making the hole and the infested fruit becomes unfit for consumption.

Management – Spraying of neem-based products.

When and How to Harvest Capsicum

When and How to Harvest Capsicum

Capsicum Harvesting starts from 60 days of planting in case of green color, 80 to 90 days of planning in case of yellow and red-fruited hybrids. The harvesting in Capsicum continues up to 170 to 180 days at 10 days interval in green. But in red and yellow color harvesting in Capsicum continues up to 200 to 250 days. Fruits that are mature green, yellow when it is about 75% yellow, and red when it is 100% red are harvested and kept in a cool place.

Capsicum harvesting is done at the green, breaker, and colored (red/ yellow, etc.) stage. It mainly depends upon the purpose for which it is grown and distance for the ultimate market. In    Capsicum is harvested at the breaker stage for long distant markets. For the local market, Capsicum is better to harvest colored stage. The breaker stage is the one when 10% of the Capsicum fruit surface is colored and when more than 90% of the fruit surface is colored it is considered as the colored stage.

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