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Grafted Pepper Seedlings

Commercial Farming of Peppers from Grafted Seedlings

Propagating from grafted pepper seedlings holds several advantages for the commercial farmer:

  • Improved resistance to diseases.
  • Chemically treated seedlings are delivered to farms at predetermined dates.
  • Pre-delivery treatment helps to protect the plants during the early period after transplant until the farmer starts with the normal chemical-treatment programme.
  • Pest-free grafted seedlings provide a solid foundation for successful plant propagation.
  • Plants have certain characteristics to ensure uniformity and an optimal yield.
  • Better-quality fruits.
  • Best possible stand thanks to specific plant traits.
  • Improved volume and shape.
  • Better taste.

When the grafted pepper seedlings are delivered to the farmer, they are ready to be transplanted. Having been propagated in special greenhouse facilities, it is possible to produce strong and pest-free plants. The farmer gets them at the correct age for transplanting. The seedlings are usually transplanted when about 15 cm tall.

More About Commercial Propagation of Sweet Peppers

The scientific name for sweet or bell peppers is Capsicum annuum. The fruits can be green, white, orange, purple, yellow, red, or brown, depending on the variety. They can be bell-shaped or conical, but cherry-shaped pepper varieties are also grown commercially.

Soil and Climate Requirements

Farmers propagating peppers from grafted seedlings must transplant them into sandy or loam soils with good drainage. The roots are normally concentrated in the upper area of the soil. It is important to monitor irrigation to minimise the risk of overwatering. The pepper plants grow best in soil with a pH of 6,3 to 6,9 – therefore soil with an almost-neutral pH. It is important to propagate peppers in warmer areas, as the plants grow more slowly when exposed to temperatures below 15 °C. The fruits ripen best during the dryer part of the season, as too-high levels of humidity can lead to fungus problems.

Harvesting of The Peppers

The fruits can be harvested while they are still green, but when they are completely ripe, they can be yellow, red, or any of the colours mentioned earlier, depending on the cultivar. If growing from seedlings, harvesting of the green fruits can be done from eight weeks. Harvesting is labour-intensive, as the process entails cutting off the fruits from the stems with around 2 cm of stem remaining on the cut fruit. What makes it a profitable vegetable is the fact that it is possible to harvest green peppers early on in the growth season, and fully ripe and coloured fruits during season.

Proper Spacing Practices

It is important to allow enough airflow between plants. As such, planting is done 40 to 50 cm apart. Rows should also be 50 cm apart in tramlines. Up to 33 000 plants can be planted per hectare, ensuring a good yield.

Irrigation Management

To prevent overwatering, commercial farmers often install moisture-tension metres to monitor the moisture content of the soil. The best form of irrigation of peppers, whether grown from grafted or ungrafted seedlings, is a drip-irrigation system combined with plastic mulching. Flood irrigation is risky, as it can lead to either waterlogged or dry patches. Overhead irrigation is not recommended, as it can lead to rot and fungal growth.

Where to Buy Grafted Pepper Seedlings

Get in touch with the Hishtil SA team today for more information about available varieties for commercial farming in South Africa.

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