The Q&A Archives: Culturing Peppers In A Greenhouse

Question: I am raising colored bell peppers hydroponically in my greenhouse. To succeed, I believe I should be culturing the pepper plants to induce more fruit growth. However, I am finding an extreme lack of information regarding the crop work to be accomplished. So far, I have one shoot (among two or three main shoots, each dividing into two a couple more inches up the plant) strung up to the wire seven feet overhead. From here, I don't know where to go. Can you help me?

Answer: Pepper is a warm-temperature vegetable and requires a long growing season. Transplants which are grown should be kept close to the following temperatures: Days:65-85 F. Nights: 60-65 F. Temperatures above 95 F may result in flower bud drop. Highest yields are obtained when soil temperatures remain in the 70-75 F range. Soil temperatures below 68 F may result in substantial yield reductions.

In greenhouse production, plants are pruned to a 2-stem training system. After 10-12 leaves have developed, the plant forks, and a flower develops at the fork. Two or three branches are produced, of which the two strongest are chosen for further production. These must be supported by a string or post, and all subsequent branches removed after the 2nd leaf. Restrict fruit set on the two stems until at least 3 or 4 leaf axils have formed or stem growth and subsequent fruit set will be greatly reduced.

The climate within the greenhouse will influence the quality of the fruit. A relative humidity of 75% is ideal. Lower humidity will decrease growth and stimulate flower production, creating a large fruit load at the expense of a strong , healthy plant. Extremely high humidity will encourage disease.

Once the plant has four or five branches it is ready for pepper production. To encourage fruit set. gradually decrease night temperatures. A maximum of two peppers per stem is recommended for the fist fruit set. A larger fist set will decrease future yields. In full production (approximately six months after planting), the maximum load is five peppers per stem.

Harvest peppers with a sharp knife, cutting the junction between the fruit stem and the main stem. Fruit should be picked when they are 85% to 90% colored since additional ripening will occur off the vine.

Hope this information helps!

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