Feedback: A-Z of growing best capsicum

Friday June 14 2019

A vendor arranges capsicums for sale.

A vendor arranges capsicums for sale. Capsicums are sensitive to water stress, which causes flower drop and fruit abortion during the flowering and fruiting stages of its growth. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

SEEDS OF GOLD EXPERTS
By SEEDS OF GOLD EXPERTS
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PLANTING THE BEST 'PILIPILI HOHO'

I am in Githunguri, Kiambu County and I would like to plant hoho (capsicum). Kindly advise me on how to grow the crop, the pesticides to use and other management practices?

Carol

Sweet pepper (hoho) belongs to the Solanaceae family and is propagated from seeds. The seeds are first sowed in a nursery bed and are ready for transplanting after six to seven weeks or when they have four to five leaves.

Hardening off (reduction of watering and removal of shade) should be done a week or two before transplanting. The nursery bed should be thoroughly watered before lifting the seedlings.

Transplanting should be done early in the morning, in the evening or on a cloudy day. The seedlings are planted at a spacing of 75 by 45cm in the seedbed.

Fertilisers

Use farm-yard manure at 20 tonne/ha before transplanting, 200kg/ha DSP (10g/plant) at planting, then top-dress with 100kg CAN/ha applied in two splits.

First split when plants are 20-25cm and second split three to five weeks later. Excess nitrogen application results in more vegetative growth at the expense of fruit production.

Irrigation

In dry areas, irrigation should be practised to maintain high yields. Capsicums consume 600-750mm of moisture. Irrigation should be done in drip or furrow form.

Sprinkler irrigation encourages fungal diseases. Capsicums are sensitive to water stress. If water stress occurs during flowering and fruiting time, it causes flower drop and fruit abortion.

Hence, frequent irrigation is necessary to maintain vegetative and reproductive growth.

Weeding

Keep the field weed-free during the entire growing period because weeds compete with the capsicum and this may lead to reduction of the yields.

However, weeding during flowering should be minimised as this leads to flower drop. The weeds can be uprooted.

Remember that weeds can also harbour pests, which will then attack the capsicum. Practice crop rotation to prevent accumulation of pests and diseases.

This should be done with crops which do not belong to the Solanaceae family.

Diseases

Late blight

This is a fungal disease that is very destructive.

Symptoms: Irregular greenish black water-soaked spots on leaves, which enlarge with time. Appearance of white mycelia growth on lower side of leaves.

Development of small greyish green water soaked areas that enlarge to cover half of the fruit. Severe defoliation and rotting of fruits.

Control: Copper-based fungicides, use of clean seeds and growing media and ensuring good aeration on canopy.

Early blight
It is a fungal disease that is also quite common.

Symptoms: Canker and collar rot on stems of seedlings and young plants in the field. Development of spots on the leaves that may partly defoliate the plants and greatly reduce yields and fruit quality.

The spots first form on older leaves and enlarge to a diameter of 0.6-1.25cm. Stems develop dark slightly sunken areas that enlarge and become circular or elongated with light centres and fruit abortion may occur.

On older fruits, dark leathery sunken spots develop at the point of attachment to the stem.

Control: Copper fungicides, seed treatment and crop rotation.

Bacterial wilt
It is characterised by rapid wilting of the plant (more rapid than fusarium wilt). If the stem is cut, a slimy substance oozes out and the pith may be dark or water-soaked in appearance.

Pathogen is soil-borne but may also be introduced through irrigation water and trash.

Control: Rotation (4-5 years), rouging and field hygiene.

Pests
Cutworms
They attack only seedlings by cutting off the stems at or just below the soil surface.
Control: Cultivate to disturb the places they spend time during dry periods, use of insecticides and use of cutworm collars.

Green peach aphids

These aphids are usually light-green and soft-bodied. They cluster on leaf undersides or on stems. Aphids excrete a sticky liquid called honeydew, which creates spots on foliage.

A black fungus, sooty mould may then grow on the honeydew. Severe infestations can cause wilting, stunting, curly and leaf distortion.

Control: Use of predators to feed on the aphids and use of insecticides.

Leafhoppers
Leafhoppers are small, sap-sacking insects. Attacked capsicums have the tips of leaves turning yellow to brown and becoming brittle. Control by immediately removing infested plants or parts.

Leaf miners

The larvae are the most destructive. They make long-winding mines under the leaf epidermis. The infected leaves are blotchy. Control by removing infected leaves.

Mites and whiteflies

They suck sap mostly from the underside of the leaves and also transmit viruses. Control by use of insecticides or yellow sticky traps.

Carol Mutua
Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.

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I NEED GOAT KIDS

I am interested in goat farming. Where can I buy quality kids?

Beaty Kabon

With the rising human population and land fragmentation in the country, goats are one of the best animals to keep. This is because they require less space to be housed, feed less compared to cows, their milk fetches high prices and are hardy.

Goats are either kept for meat, milk or both. Breeds mainly kept for milk include Saanen, Alpines and Toggenburgs while meat goats are the Boer, Small East African goat and Galla goat.

You can source quality kids from the Dairy Goat Association members in your region.

Dennis Kigiri,
Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.

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I WANT TO REAR INSECTS

I am interested in maggot farming. Pease give me any contact leads.

Oromo Natosa, Siaya

Due to the rising demand for animal protein used in making livestock feeds, people are looking for alternative protein sources.

Since you are in Siaya, visit Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology to learn more on insect rearing.

The insects include crickets and black soldier fly.

Dennis Kigiri,
Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.

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VEGETABLES YOU CAN GROW THIS SEASON

There is a shortage of vegetables where I come from. Which ones should I farm and why?

Beatrice

You can plant sukuma wiki (collard greens), Swiss chard, African leafy vegetables (such as amaranthus, spider plant, nightshade, and cowpeas), cabbage, and capsicums.

Vegetables take a short time to mature and they are rich in nutrients. Kindly tell us where you are so that we can tell you the vegetables that would do well in your area because there are cool and warm season vegetables.

Also, different vegetables have different ecological requirements.

Carol Mutua,
Department of Crops, Horticulture, and Soils, Egerton University.