Home Garden Pepper Production
(Bell, Small Fruit and Pimento)1
Revised 1/01 -- Author Reviewed 1/01 HIL-8021
Douglas C. Sanders, Extension
Charles W. Averre, Extension Plant Pathologist
Kenneth A. Sorensen, Extension Entomologist
Department of Horticultural Science
College of Agriculture & Life Sciences
North Carolina State University
By following the steps listed below you will be able to produce
earlier peppers with higher yields and better quality.
Plants and Plant Beds
(See AG-337, Production of Commercial Vegetable
Transplants, for more detailed information.)
- The following varieties have performed well in North Carolina:
- Bell -- Keystone Resistant Giant Strain 3
(71 days), Yolo Wonder L (80 days), King Arthur (67 days).
- Small fruit -- Banana Supreme (70 days),
Hy-Fry (60 days), Biscayne (70 days), Key Largo (62 days)
Cubanelle (65 days), Gypsy (60 days), Hungarian Sweet Wax (68
- Hot -- Red Cherry (78 days), Red Cherry
(Small) (75 days), Red Cherry (Large) (75 days) (may be too
large), Anaheim Chili TMR 23 (75 days), AnchoVilla (80 days),
Early Jalopeno (63 days), Mitla (62 days jalopeno), Hungarian
Yellow Wax (68 days), Habanero (100 days) [very
- Pimento -- Pimento Select (73 days), True
Heart Perfection (80 days).
- Obtain certified seed produced under disease conditions of
the arid, western part of the United States.
- Transplant as shown in Table 1.
Table 1. When to transplant peppers in field.
Transplant in Field (after Frost)
Jan. 15 to Feb. 15
Feb. 1 to Mar. 1
April to May
Feb. 15 to Mar. 15
1 See Commercial Pepper Production
in North Carolina (AG 387) for more detailed and complete
- Overcrowding in the plant bed is one of the biggest problems
with the development of stocky plants. Sow seed 8 to 10 weeks
before plants are to be set in the field. Water bed thoroughly and
uniformly after seeding.
- If "damping-off" appears, drench plant bed with a
fungicide* (according to manufacturer's
directions). Spray or dust with fungicide if blue mold appears in
plant bed. Damping-off and mold should not be problems if the bed
was fumigated, is well-drained, and well-ventilated.
- Water plant beds thoroughly when needed. Watering in the
mornings will allow foliage to dry more rapidly and thus reduce
the spread of diseases.
- Prior to pulling, spray the plant bed with an
antibiotic* and fungicide* as
directed on the label. If bacterial spot appears, avoid using
plants from the bed, but if they must be used, spray weekly with a
mixture of copper and streptomycin sulfate.
- To control mosaic virus, avoid use of tobacco or wash hands
with soap and water before handling plants. Control insects in
plant bed and field to prevent virus spread. (See Plant
Pathology Information Note 186.)
In The Garden
- About 7 to 10 days before transplanting, begin hardening the
plants by limiting water and exposing them to wind and sun. Water
the plant bed thoroughly a few hours before the plants are to be
- Select a well-drained, easily worked loamy or sandy loam soil.
Do not select a soil that had cotton, tobacco, eggplant, peppers
or Irish potatoes the previous year. Practice crop rotation to
control rootknot, bacterial spot, and other diseases. Soil samples
should be taken in the fall to determine fertilizer needs and if
fumigation for nematodes is necessary. Take a small amount of soil
to a depth of 8 inches, from 8 to 10 locations in the garden and
mix this soil thoroughly. Then put a cup of this soil in a plastic
bag for nematode analysis and another cup in a fertility sample
box for determination of fertilizer and lime needs. Soil pH for
pepper should be 6.0 to 6.5, lime will allow your peppers to use
fertilizer more readily.
- Be sure that the land is plowed early and deep to ensure that
trash and other organic matter are well rotted. Plowing under
green manure cover crops early will result in increased
- Use a row width convenient for cultivation (3.0 to 3.5 ft).
Transplant plants 12 inches in the row. Cultivation may not be
necessary with a good herbicide program. Recently, use of black
plastic and 2 rows (12 inches apart) on beds with 5-ft centers has
doubled yields. (Drip irrigation is necessary for plastic
- Pimento pepper requires spacings of 18 to 24 inches in rows
spaced 42 inches apart, because of their greater vigor.
- Apply recommended chemicals for weed
control.* Follow the directions on the label. For
best results, use both pre-planting and post-planting
- Apply the recommended fertilizer in 2 bands, each located 3
inches to the side and 2 to 3 inches below the plant roots. On
average soils, 3 lb of 10-10-10 per 100 ft2 should be
used (if soil was not tested). Where banding is impossible, mix
the fertilizer thoroughly with the soil before ridging, because
peppers are very susceptible to fertilizer injury. Apply ½
oz. of actual N per ft of row as a sidedress. Sidedress 2 to 3
times, starting 2 weeks after planting. Pimentos will require a
- Transplant in late afternoon or on cloudy days to prevent
wilting. If soil is low in phosphorus, use a soluble starter
fertilizer in transplant water.
- Cultivation should be done only when necessary to control
weeds, usually every 10 days. The cultivations should be shallow.
Don't permit machinery to touch the plants since this will injure
the plant and spread diseases. If herbicides were used, cultivate
only if necessary.
- Foliar applications of insecticides* may be
necessary on a weekly basis after mid-June. Corn earworms,
maggots, armyworms, as well as corn borers, are especially
troublesome later in the season.
- If Cercospora leaf spot appears in the field, spray or dust
with a fungicide*.
- Harvested peppers should be kept cool to retard spoilage and
removed from the field soon after harvest.
* Consult the current North Carolina
Commercial Vegetable Recommendations (AG-586) or your
county Extension agent for pesticide recommendations.
10 Steps to Profitable Pepper Production
- Use well-drained soils.
- Soil test for fertilizer and nematodes.
- Lime to pH 6.5.
- Apply fertilizer carefully.
- Use only disease-free and insect-free plants that have not
- Use good weed management practices.
- Plant carefully to get good stands.
- Sidedress 2 to 3 times.
- Control corn borer and other insects.
- Cool fruit soon after harvest.
Recommendations for the use of chemicals are included in this
publication as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names
and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this
publication does not imply endorsement by the North Carolina
Cooperative Extension Service nor discrimination against similar
products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use chemicals are
responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current
regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain
current information about usage and examine a current product label
before applying any chemical. For assistance, contact an agent of the
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in your county.
Published by the North Carolina
Cooperative Extension Service
Distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and
June 30, 1914. Employment and program opportunities are offered to
all people regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or
disability. North Carolina State University at Raleigh, North
Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture,
and local governments cooperating.