Hot pepper Farming
The hot pepper is a herbaceous short life perennial plant which reaches the height of 0.5 to 1.5 m. They produce flowers which bear the fruits which is green when unripe and it turns red when ripe. The fruit may go through an intermediary brown or purple stages in colour. Hot pepper fruits are used as raw in salads, food garnishes and marinades. The fruit may also be used in combination with other ingredients to make or produce a hot sauce. (Also called pepper sauce). The fruits may also be turned into relishes. Hot peppers have the following ingredients; they contain water about 83%, they contain 3% protein, they contain 7% fibre, they have carbohydrates of 6%, they contain 0.6% fat and they have high vitamin C, vitamin A and B vitamin content. This article will give in detail on how to grow hot pepper.
Peppers perform well in warm season and they require a similar growing conditions like other crops in Solanaceae family which among others include tomato and boulanger.
Peppers requires an average rainfall of 600 to 1250 mm per annum, which is well distributed, but the plant is also able to give better results in a wide range of altitudes. They do not do well in places having flood conditions. Optimal temperature range for germination is known to be in a range of 25 to 30 °C. The best yield is obtained at a temperature range of 18 to 30 °C.
Make sure you grow your peppers on a fertile loam soil or fertile medium loam and the soil has to be of drainage having a pH of a range of 5.5 to 6.8.
The following are commonly grown peppers; West Indies Red, Scotch Bonnet, Caribbean Green, Caribbean Red and Habanero
(a) Site Selection
Make sure you grow your hot pepper in an open area as they do not perform well in shade areas. Make sure the site you select has good soil and is not waterlogged or prone to flooding. Make sure the soil site which you are selecting has sandy loam soil or has silt loam soils to get better yields.
(b) Land Preparation
For the good plant establishment make sure the soil is tilled or plowed about 30 centimeters in depth. Adding manure or organic matter is recommended to improve your soil nutrition content and soil structure. Make sure your field is well drained. Making ridges and planting your hot pepper on ridges or raised beds results in better performance.
When it comes to planting, make sure you plant healthy seeds which are free from pests and diseases for the proper establishment of plants. This ensures a high probability of good germination. 100 grams of seeds give about 20,000 hot pepper plants and this plant population can cover a two and half acre land. Hot pepper seeds have a germination range of 8 to 12 days.
You can raise your hot pepper seedlings in the following; Shaded Seed bed, Seedling Boxes under the covering, Seedling Trays among others.
(i) Shaded hot pepper seed bed
Make sure the seedbeds are prepared at a site having good soil content and is free from weeds. Make sure the prepared land has fine tilt.
(ii) Hot pepper seedling boxes
Make sure you use boxes having dimensions of 14" x 20". The hot pepper seeds are sown thinly ¼ inch in depth. Make sure you keep on watering for 1 to 2 weeks after hot pepper seeds has germinated. The seedlings are transplanted later.
(iii)Hot pepper seedling trays
This way is considered more efficient. Makes sure you sow your hot pepper seed a single seed per tray for better performance. Make sure trays have the right moisture content all the time.
Make sure you consider time go harvest before planting if you are growing hot pepper for commercial purposes. For the proper establishment ensure the site has good soil and water is available.
Transplanting should be done at 4 to 6 weeks when the seedlings are ready to be transplanted and and make sure you transplant the seedlings in the evening. Make sure you take care of the roots to avoid causing damage to them. Apply water to the transplanted seedlings at the base. Make sure you apply fertilizers to the transplanted seedlings for good root development.
Transplant seedling should have a space of 3ft between rows and 2ft within rows. Make sure the transplanted seedlings are not very close to each other as this will give fruiting difficulties and will result in low yield.
Make sure you apply 5 litters of water to your hot pepper plant everyday and this can easily be achieved through drip irrigation. Make sure the soil has right moisture all the time.
Before you apply any fertilizer to your hot pepper plant, make sure you do a soil analysis to know the exact nutrition required by your soil. The following fertilizers are recommended; Urea, which needs to be applied at a rate of 66 kg per hectare; Triple Super Phosphate (TSP) which needs to be applied at a rate of 75 kg per hectare; Muriate of Potash which needs to be applied at a rate of 80 kg per hectare.
(1) Weed Control
Manual weed control is recommended. Make sure the hot pepper field is kept free of weeds all the time. Herbicides may be applied, but a lot of care has to be taken when using it from stay drift.
Make sure you irrigate your plant early in the morning or in the evening or late afternoon. The water has to be of good quality and always make sure your site is not waterlogged. Each hot pepper plant requires 5 litters of water every day.
Hot peppers are ready for harvesting two and a half to three months from the day of planting. Harvesting can be done on a weekly basis depending on market availability. The harvesting can go up to 6 to 8 months. Make sure you harvest during cool days. Harvesting can be done by picking ripe pepper fruits by hands and putting them in a container.