A warm season crop, sweet peppers (Capsicum annuum) have the highest yield in areas with long, warm growing seasons. Weather, care practices, the quality of the soil, the cultivar and a host of other factors also influence the yield of sweet peppers. Even so, you can make some general predictions about the yield of your plants, and this will help you decide how much to plant.
Average Yields and How Much to Plant
On average, expect about 125 pounds of peppers from a 100-foot row or 12.5 pounds from a 10-foot row. A typical sweet pepper plant produces six to eight peppers over the course of the season. Two or three pepper plants per person is usually enough.
Good Soil and Fertilization Increases Yields
Bell peppers like organically rich soil that contains plenty of nutrients and manages moisture well. Working a 2-inch layer of compost or composted manure into the soil before planting gets your crop off to a good start. Once the plants set their first crop of peppers, side-dress them with 2 tablespoons of 12-12-12 fertilizer around the base of each plant. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers that encourage the plant to produce an abundance of dark green foliage at the expense of fruit.
Sweet peppers prefer temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Some of the blossoms drop from the plant without producing fruit when night temperatures drop below 60 degrees or day temperatures rise above 80 degrees. When temperatures soar above 90, most of the blossoms drop. Plant sweet peppers when you expect night temperatures to remain above 50 degrees. Plant heat-tolerant cultivars if you live in an area with hot summers. Lack of water when the flowers bloom also causes blossom drop. Water slowly and deeply when the soil feels dry at a depth of 1 inch. Two inches of mulch around the plants helps keep the moisture even and prevents weeds that compete with the pepper plants for available moisture and nutrients.
More Care Tips for Higher Yields
Anything that causes stress can reduce pepper yields. Insect infestation is a common stress factor. Watch the leaves for signs of insect feeding and examine the undersides of leaves for insects and eggs. Treat infestations as soon as you find them. While organic mulches hold in moisture and prevent weeds, plastic mulches are more effective at increasing the yield. Harvesting frequently also increases the yield. Picking peppers when they are young and firm encourages more blossoms. Harvest the peppers by cutting the stems to avoid injuring the plant.
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