Capsicum is commonly called pilihoho in Kenya. It is a very important component of most dishes as a spice.It can also be used to make pastes that are packaged after value addition. Wherever it is grown, farmers have commercial markets in mind for its production and most varieties are hybrids.
Varieties havea characteristic green color when mature though may also be yellow or red, orange, yellow etc. as secondary colors.
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Altitude: 0-2000m above sea level
Rainfall: 600-1200mm annually
Soils: well drained light loamy, non-acidic with pH of 6.0-6.5
Plough the field to a fine tilth. Make ridges and furrows 45 or 60 cm apart.Have the farm field irrigated before planting to allow easy planting. Transplant 40-45 days old seedlings at 30 cm spacing
Raise seedlings on a nursery, transplant the seedlings at 8-10cm high with at least 4 true leaves. Spacing should be 60cm by 40cm or 70cm by 30cm depending on cultivar. Seed rate range from 0.5kg-1kg per hectare.
Immediately after emergence, capsicum seedlings require regular watering. This management practice should be done at cool hours of the day, preferably early morning or late evening. However, avoid excessive watering as this may unnecessarily create conducive environment for dumping off. Do regular scouting and depending with the health conditions of the plants determine whether fertilization is required.
As part of horticultural management to maximize production, the growing tips can be pinched out when the plants are 3cm high to encourage branching.
Weeding should be done on the 30th day (just once) and the plants are earthed up.
Apply 250kg TSP per hectare during planting. Top-dress with 100kg CAN per hectare when plants are about 15cm then 200kg CAN per hectare 4 weeks later.
Spider Mites. These are very small red mites. They mostly survive in hot weather and under intense heat and windy conditions can quickly multiply and spread even to nearby farms.During dry weather farmers can spend lots of money on sprays to prevent or cure spider mite attacks.
Thrips. These mostly attack the flowers. They are less sited on capsicums but it is good to always spend some time hunting for them weekly. You will have to sample quite a number of flowers across the field. Hold the flower carefully and look inside for any insects.
White Flies. For White Flies, you can sight them early in the morning by tapping on the crops. You will see them flying off in big numbers. They have little effect on the crop. They mostly come around during the rainy and cold seasons.
Cutworms. This nocturnal caterpillar curls around seedling stems and eats through them. They are controlled by using cutworm collars and applying beneficial nematodes to the soil
Powdery mildew. Control by spraying appropriate fungicide
Dieback and fruit rot. Control measure is to Spray Mancozeb at 2g /l
Early/Late Blight. This makes the leaves start folding up. That adversely affects photosynthesis process leading to poor fruiting and hence reduced yield.
Blossom-end rot. The disorder is caused by lack of calcium. It creates dark brown or black spots on immature fruits. The control measure is to ensure good supply of calcium through spraying.
Damping-off. Common indication is the immature fruits that fall off and rot on the ground.It is a fungal problem and prevention is to control watering management. That is, avoid excessive watering to the crop to keep out fungal growth and multiplication.
Root-knot nematodes. These are microscopic soil-dwelling worms that can invade roots and make them wilt. They can be eradicated by growing a cover crop of marigolds or rye in infested fields as an intervention in the rotational program.
capsicum fruits that are ready for harvesting will appear maturely green and full. Don’t wait until the fruits start ripening before picking them as this will lower their shelf life.Pick the first fruits when they are green, smooth and glossy
Under good conditions, capsicum can yield up to 10-15tonnes/ha in about 5-6 months. Harvesting continues for 3-4 months depending on crop management.