Sweet pepper or bell pepper which is locally known as green pepper is a household name among the locals. The most common bell pepper which is known by Ugandans is green in colour and it is used in making salads and cooking in almost every household, hotel and restaurants in the country. The health benefits of growing green peppers are that it helps in boosting immunity, it prevents heart diseases, helps in managing diabetes and repairing damage to the body tissues. The most common varieties that are grown in Uganda include the sweet red cherry, the California wonder, bell boy and Lilac bell. The price for one green pepper ranges from shs500 to shs1500 depending on the size.
Green pepper farming is a very lucrative business venture and all you need is to get certified seeds from a supplier who is well known and also cares for the crops until they are ready for harvesting. Below are the guidelines that you should follow for a profitable green pepper farming business.
Land preparation for pepper growing
land preparation is not so expensive but you will need to clear the land. You can use a tractor or hand hoe depending on the size of land that you are planning on using for your green pepper farm. After the removal of the vegetation and other debris, plough the land twice and add fertilizers to the soil months before you start planting. The fertilizers to use are the farmyard manure and after adding fertilizers, add nematicides to kill all the diseases and insects that affect the soil. But before you add the fertilizers, you will also need to first do some soil testing and find out whether the soil is compatible for green pepper growing.
Planting of green pepper
It is advisable that you first plant the green pepper in the nursery bed before they are planted in the main garden. After preparing the soil in the nursery bed, dig holes which are about 3cm deep and then place the seeds into the holes before covering with loose soil. You need to water the seedbed regularly in order to aid the germination process and after planting, add mulching to keep the soil moist.
Transplanting of the seedlings should be done either in the morning or in the evening to avoid withering of the seedlings but before transplanting them to the main garden, you should water the seedbed so that it is easier to transplant them and to keep the seedlings healthy. The seedlings will be ready for transplanting at 6 to 7 weeks after planting when they start sprouting leaves.
Care and management of green peppers
Provide the green peppers with support since they are climbing plants. This process is also known as staking and you should use strong wood or any other materials to support the pepper. The advantages of skating are it helps keep the fruits and leaves away from the ground, it also helps the plants from splitting due to the weight and it also prevents the fruit from getting damaged.
Irrigation and pruning of green peppers
The peppers need to be regularly waters as they need at least one litre of water per day. It is recommended that you water the crops at least three times a week. Pruning is also done at least every week so that the nutrients for the pepper. Pruning of green pepper includes you removing the first fruits that the plant produces so that you pave way for better fruits to grow, prune the fruits that are not well shaped, each plant should have only two shoots and remove the leaves that are affected by diseases.
Care and management also involves dealing with the pests and diseases that affect the green peppers. Some of the most common pests that attack green peppers include thrips which attack the flowers, Aphids that attack the undersides of the leaves and stem, red spider mites and the root knot nematodes which are found in the soil. The diseases that affect the green peppers include the bacterial wilt and the damping off which is a fungal infection.
They are also affected by weeds and these can be controlled by weeding and spraying pesticides. It is better to deal with the weeds earlier on in order to avoid competition of nutrients with the crops.
Harvesting of green pepper
The fruits are always ready for harvesting 2 to 3 months after planting. The fruits are handpicked from the stems and you can harvest from the same garden for up to 6 months. While harvesting, you should only harvest mature fruits, harvesting should be done in a shade because sunlight will cause the fruits to wither, sort the fruits according to their size and grade them according to what is required on the Ugandan market. They should be stored in cool temperatures after harvesting and the same applies to when you are transporting them. They can be stored in boxes or crates but make sure that they are well aerated.
How To Harvest Green Pepper
Peppers can be harvested at any time of year, but their flavor is at its peak during the dry season. Harvest peppers by cutting the stem with a pruning shears, and then pulling the pepper away from the plant. This method leaves the stem attached to the plant so it can continue to grow and produce more peppers.