Guide to Growing Bell Peppers on a Farm
Be it red, yellow, or orange, the bell pepper is a favorite due to its sweet, crisp flavor and loads of vitamin C and other nutrients.
Their popularity makes growing bell peppers a lucrative business option for any commercial or family farm. That’s why we've put together this guide to help you learn how to grow bell peppers!
Bell Pepper Requirements
Bell peppers love warm, wet, sunny weather. They do best in full sun and should always get planted three weeks after the final frost date to keep them from getting too cold.
Plants need a nutrient-rich soil without too much nitrogen. If you have access to chicken manure, use this, as bell peppers love it. The nutritional requirements change throughout the growing cycle.
Where to Plant
Bell peppers need about three feet between rows and 1 1/2 feet between plants. They need between six and eight hours of sunlight every day, so find them a spot in the open where they can stay warm.
How to Plant
To get a start on the growing season, you'll want to start your bell peppers in a greenhouse. You can do this as early as 8 weeks before the last frost date.
Start your seeds in a planting mixture and use a spray bottle to keep the soil moist until germination. Once seeds have sprouted, be careful to only spray the soil as too much moisture on the plant can cause problems.
When the seedlings are ready, you can plant them outside. We recommend using raised beds and black plastic mulch. Raised beds are easy to shape with a bed shaper and plastic mulch layer combo tractor implement. Growing bell peppers using raised beds will help provide better drainage, keeps away certain pests, and inhibits weed growth.
Add some 2:3:2 fertilizer to the soil before planting. Then, loosen the soil to provide plenty of space for the roots. Space out plants as mentioned before and you're almost done.
Once planted, you should use stakes to keep your bell peppers from falling down and mulch to help keep the moisture in the soil. Again, you want to make sure you're watering the roots, not the actual plant. You can achieve this through underground irrigation.
Bell Pepper Plant Care
Caring properly for your bell peppers will ensure a bigger harvest, so make sure you're prepared to do what's necessary.
First, you should water bell peppers on a regular basis to stop the soil from drying out. For this reason, we recommend drip irrigation as it will keep the water right where it needs to be.
You also need to weed the beds regularly. Weeds are not only ugly, but they take vital nutrients away from your crops. Mulch will help, but you may also need to use an herbicide to keep weeds at bay.
You'll need to keep pests away from your bell peppers. You may use a spray, but because bell peppers are hardy, you may find that there's no need to do much for pests.
The most common pest of bell peppers is the fruit fly. They lay their eggs on the developing fruit. When they hatch, the larvae can burrow into the fruit and wreak havoc. You may not even know there's a problem until you cut open a pepper and find the inside rotten.
For fertilizer, you'll want to switch to a 3:1:5 blend once they start flowering. This will encourage the pepper to put more energy into growing fruit instead of leaves.
If you find your bell peppers putting out more leaves than fruit, check your soil's nitrogen levels. Lowering these can help get your plants back on track to growing great bell peppers.
Bell peppers will start producing fruit around 11 weeks after they're planted in the field. They will then continue producing fruit until the end of the growing season, or until the first frost.
The exact quantity of peppers varies depending on which variety you're growing. However, you can expect a single plant to produce between 20 and 37 peppers in one season. That results in 4 to 6 pounds of peppers.
Warmer areas with extended growing seasons may see more peppers than those with a shorter growing season. This is why bell peppers are more common in southern states where it stays warmer for longer.
If you start your seeds in the ground after the last frost, this will cut your pepper growing season short. However, it may also be easier for those who don't want to put in the extra work of transplanting peppers from the greenhouse to the ground.
To harvest bell peppers, you'll want to use a sharp knife to remove the fruit as soon as it's mature. Leaving ripe fruit on for too long will reduce your yield and can result in fruit loss.
More Tips for Growing Bell Peppers
Here are a few extra tips that will help you get the most out of your bell pepper crop:
- You can deter aphids by spraying soapy water on the plant's leaves. This method is popular among organic gardeners because it's safe for the plants and soil, but any farmer can use it.
- To get green peppers, harvest a red bell pepper early. These sell for less but may allow you to have a larger harvest.
- Grow a variety of colors of bell peppers. This will help you fill gaps in the market. Red, orange, and yellow are the most common varieties, but you can also grow white, dark purple, lavender, and brown bell peppers.
- Because of their hardy nature, bell peppers are a great choice for organic farmers. They are relatively disease- and pest-free, so there's no need to get creative with solutions.
For more in depth information about how to grow bell peppers, check out the Pepper Production article by the Penn State Extension.
Farm Equipment for Growing Bell Peppers
Kennco Manufacturing understands there are many expenses such as labor costs that eat into farming profits. Our goal is to provide farmers with quality, reliable farming equipment they can depend on to get labor intensive tasks done more consistently and efficiently, reducing their labor costs and raising their profitability.
Our farm tractor attachments and implements have been engineered and re-engineered over the years. Long-time farmers have learned to rely on Kennco’s equipment such as the raised bed shaper, plastic mulch layer and plastic retriever, tomato stake puller, and much more. You can learn about our profit-generating farm equipment products here.
If you don’t find the farm equipment that meets your needs, contact us to discuss your needs and how we can engineer custom farm equipment tailored to your specifications and purpose.