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Peppers Growing. How to plant, grow and harvest peppers 1/2

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The pepper belongs to the solanaceous family and goes by the scientific name of Capsicum annuum L.

It is a leafy perennial plant with an annual growth cycle. It can vary between 0.5m to 2m in size.

Its growth habit tends to be limited and upright. Two or three shoots branch out from the cross and continue branching out dichotomously. It possesses a deep pivoting root system with various roots.

The leaf is complete, smooth and lanceolate with a very pronounced tip and a long petiole, which is not particularly visible. The shaft is smooth and shiny, soft to the touch and either light or dark green in colour.

The main vein, part of the base of the leaf, as well as the secondary veins are pronounced and almost reach to edge of the leaf.

Leaf intersection takes place alternately and their size tends to vary producing a certain correlation between the size of the adult leaf and the average weight of the fruit.

The flowers appear singularly at each node of the stalk. They are small and have a white corolla.

The fruit is a hollow berry which varies in colour; it is semi-cartilaginous and dull.

The seeds can be found within a cone shaped placenta in the centre. They are round, slightly reniform, pale yellow in colour with a length that varies from 3mm to 5mm.

It is fundamental to manage climatic conditions in order that good crop management practices may be carried out. 

This plant is unable to cope with frost as it requires a hot or warm climate. The minimum temperature for germination and growth to take place is 15⁰C, whereas flowering and fruit formation requires 18⁰C, the optimum temperature oscillating between 20ºC to 26ºC.

If the plant is subject to low temperatures during the development of the flower bud, the result will be flowers and fruit showing abnormalities. On the other hand, high temperature will be the direct cause of both the flowers and fruit dropping off, whereas brusque temperature changes will cause growth imbalance.

The pepper plant requires a large amount of light, especially during the first stages of growth and flowering. The optimum relative humidity oscillates between 50% and 70%. If the humidity is any higher diseases will develop in those parts which are exposed to the air, this will in turn make fertilization difficult. On the other hand, if humidity is too low, and the plant is subject to high temperatures, both the recently formed flowers and fruit will fall off.

The pepper plant requires deep loose soil which is well drained and rich in organic matter. This is due to the fact that this plant is highly sensitive to choked roots.

It is not particularly sensitive to soil acidity and adapts well to a pH range between 5.5 and 7.

This species is moderately tolerant towards soil salinity as well as the salinity of the irrigation water used.

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