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Department of Tropical Plant & Soil Sciences
University of Hawaii at Manoa



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Pepper insects, pests, and plant disease pathogens, Knowledge Master, CTAHR
Ask the Experts--Pepper


Climatic Requirement

Bell pepper is essentially a cool climate crop (65F to 75F). Production is low during summer months. When the temperature reaches 90F, the blossoms seldom set fruit. For best result in the drier low-lands, plant peppers in the late fall and winter months and harvest in late winter and early spring. In the cooler uplands, plant during the spring and early summer and harvest in the summer and early fall.



Keystone Resistant Giant, Emerald Giant, Titan, Yolo Wonder L, California Wonder, and Bell Boy Hybrid will produce peppers of the highest quality when grown locally.

Source of Seeds

Seeds of bell peppers are available from all seed companies on the Mainland and are usually included on seed racks in garden stores.


Irrigation and Cultivation

As a rule, lighter soils need more frequent irrigation than do heavier soils, and peppers require more frequent irrigation after fruiting starts than before. Cultivate whenever necessary. Tall weeds harbor insects which might transmit mosaic disease. Smal ler weeds are easier to eradicate.

Disease Control

The most common diseases found on peppers are |mosaic, bacterial leaf spot, Cercospora leaf spot,anthracnose, late blight, blossom end rot, and sun scald.

Mosaic, one or more virus diseases which cause green and yellow mottling and distorted leaves, is the most common disease problem of pepper. To control mosaic, insect pestsespecially aphids must be controlled because they are known to transmit the disease . A good insect control program plus weed control and sanitation will help control the disease. The use of aluminum foil soil mulch between the plants is reported effective in controlling mosaic by repelling aphids.

Maneb and zineb will provide needed control for Cercospora leaf spot and anthracnose. For bacterial leaf spot use copper fungicide. Blossom end rot is a result of insufficient water reaching the fruit. The various causes of this may be insufficient irriga tion, irrigation with water with high salt content, poorly drained soil, an insufficient root system on high-acid soil, calcium deficiency, root-knot nematode infestation on the roots, root damage from too deep cultivation, and root damage and excessive t ranspiration from strong winds.

Sun scald or sunburning is marked by sunken white dried spots on the fruits. Keep the leaves healthy to prevent them from dropping off and exposing the fruits to the sun. Closer planting during the hot months of the year is recommended to shade the fruit.

If bacterial wilt organism is present in the soil, bell pepper should not be planted. There is no chemical control or bell pepper variety resistant to the disease.

When applying Insecticides, fungicides, be sure to read and follow recommendations and directions on the label carefully.

Soil Management and Fertilization

Peppers thrive in a wide range of soil types but good drainage is essential. Soil should be worked over to break up any hardpan that prevents good drainage and to break up large soil clods. A soil pH of 5.5 to 7.0 is desirable.

If manure is used, till it into the soil during preparation for planting..A general garden fertilizer, like 10-30-10, can be applied at the rate of 3.5 to 4.0 pounds per 100 square feet. Apply one-third at transplanting, one-third when flowers form, and o ne-third a month after. Additional nitrogen may be applied after the first harvest to improve fruit size and vigor. (Excess nitrogen can cause flower drop.)


Peppers should be harvested when mature green. The skin of the mature green pepper is shiny and waxy. Peppers harvested too young will wilt and shrivel. Stems should be left on the fruits when they are harvested. After the first pepper matures, harvest at 3- to 4-day intervals. Harvest will last from 1 to 6 months or more, depending upon the care and condition of the plants.

Insect Control

The insects most commonly found on peppers are: aphids, mites, white flies, thrips, leafminers, and pepper weevil. All of them can be controlled to some degree with malathion, naled (Dibrom), diazinon, or carbaryl (Sevin) or dimethoate (Cygon).


Pepper is usually transplanted rather than seeded directly into the garden. Plant seeds in seedling flats, beds, or pots. Starting two weeks after germination, fertilize the seedlings weekly, preferably with a solution of about 1 tablespoon of a water-soluble fertilizer in 1 gallon of water. The seedlings will be ready to transplant in about 6 to 8 weeks.

In a single row planting, space the plants 12 inches apart in the row. Set the seedlings at the same depth as in the seedbed, flat, or pot, and firm the soil around the roots. It is beneficial to use a starter solution (water-soluble high phosphate fertilizer) at time of transplanting.