Capsicum Farming in Ghana
Capsicum pepper are a hardy type of plant. It is rarely attacked by diseases or pests though it still needs proper preventive care. Capsicum farming in Ghana does best in hot areas the likes of the Upper east, upper west regions, Also Northern region, Greater Accra and Afram plains areas also support capsicum/pepper farming etc.
Capsicum Farming in Ghana – Varieties
Most commercial varieties are hybrids. (Hot)- Legon 18, Long Red Cayenne, Bird’s eye, M12, Scotch Bonnet, Kpakpo Shito, Jalapeno and Fresno. Some of the sweet variesties are King Arthur, Florida Giant, California Wonder, Red Knight, Early Carl Wonder, Chinese Wonder, and Yolo Giant. These varieties have a green primary mature colour, but may also be yellow.
They also have a secondary mature colour that is red, but may also be orange or yellow or other colors. Capsicums picked at this stage are much sweeter than green capsicums and have more pro-vitamin Anther are also black, cream, and brown and lime colored varieties.
New varieties that are more resistant to disease, produce higher yields of capsicum, produce more uniform capsicum or be more suited to the latest market requirements for quality are always been introduced to the market.
Capsicum Farming in Ghana – Requirements
Soil requirements for capsicums are not strict as they can grow on most well-drained loamy or heavy cracking clay soils with an optimum pH range of 6.0 to 6.5.
Chilli peppers require sunny, semi-tropic or tropical conditions and annual rainfall of between 600mm and 1,250mm. Ideal temperature for good growth is 18-320C. Low humidity will result in bad fruit set due to dropping of flower buds.
The Capsicums grow well in altitudes of up to 2,000 metres above sea level.
The low night temperatures in September and February in Ghana are good for this crop.
Seeds should be sown in drilled rows spaced 15cm and thinly covered with soil.
When the capsicums reach 15cm, top-dress with 100kg/ha of nitrogen (from CAN or equivalent source) and four weeks later another 200kg/ha should be applied.
Seeds take 12 to 21 days to germinate with optimum soil temperatures of between 13 to 21 degrees centigrade.
Thinning or pricking out should be done to a final seedling spacing of 5cm to allow growth of healthy seedlings.
the land should be cleared of trees, grasses and root stumps. A well decomposed manure or compost at 3-10kg/m2 should be ploughed in 4-6 weeks before planting.
Seed rate about 150g seed is required for 1ha at a density of 30,000 plants/ha. Test seeds before nursing. Seeds are most suitable if test results show 95-100% germination.
Sow one seed per cell (in seed trays) or broadcast the seeds lightly in a seedbed and cover with 1 cm layer of soil. On the seedbed, cover with non-seeded dry grass or palm fronds until seeds emerge and cover the bed with an insect-proof net or sow them inside a greenhouse or screen house. Upon emergence, water the seedlings thoroughly every morning or as needed, using a fine sprinkler. Avoid over watering to prevent damping-off. Should this occur, drench with an EPA approved fungicide.
Transplant seedlings at 5-true leaf stage in the cool of the day or late afternoon. The soil should be moist and of a fine tilth.
Spacing For Some Hot Pepper Varieties.
Variety Spacing(between plants and between rows)
Cayenne(Legon 18) 60x60cm (2×2 feet)
Jalapeno 60x30cm (2×1 feet)
Fresno 70x50cm (2.5×1.5 feet)
Scotch Bonnet 70x50cm (2.5×1.5 feet)
Bird’s eye 60x30cm (2×1 feet)
Sweet Pepper 60x60cm (2×2 feet)
Nutrient management for Capsicum farming
At planting, 250kg/ha of double super phosphate fertilizer should be applied. When the capsicums reach 15cm, top-dress with 100kg/ha of nitrogen (from CAN or equivalent source) and four weeks later another 200kg/ha should be applied and compost manure is used in the nursery
Test soil to determine fertility level and adjust rates to meet the crop’s nutrient requirements.
- At transplanting water seedlings with a starter solution of 5g/L NPK 15-15-15 or 3g/L di-Ammonium Phosphate or any commercial fertilizer rich in Phosphorus and Nitrogen.
• 2 weeks after transplanting (WAT), apply a mixture of 6g (2 crown caps) NPK 15-15-15 and 3g (1 crown cap) Ammonium Sulphate/plant.
• At flowering side dress 3g Potassium Nitrate, repeat at 2 weeks intervals. Apply high Calcium foliar fertilizers containing Boron every 2 weeks following manufacturer’s instructions.
• After each harvest apply 3g KNO3/ Ammonium Sulphate and irrigate to prolong harvesting period.
Mulch to conserve moisture, soil, reduce weed competition, erosion and soil compaction. Use rice straw (5t/ha) or other organic material, polyethylene sheet, or a combination of materials. Where plastic mulch is used, lay before transplanting.
Provide supplementary irrigation to maintain a good moisture level throughout the growth period especially during flowering and fruit development.
Keep the field free of weeds with inter-row cultivators, by applying approved pre and post emergent herbicides, hoeing or hand picking. Avoid damaging plant roots.
Plants may be staked to prevent lodging, particularly when they have a heavy load of fruits.
As part of horticultural management to maximize production, the growing tips can be pinched out when the plants are 3cm high to encourage branching.
Capsicum seed rate is 0.5kg/ha in the nursery and 1kg/ha for direct sowing.
Capsicum Farming in Ghana – Nursery
It is from the nursery that planting starts. Sunken or Raised nurseries can be made through sunken nurseries are preferred since they retain water more than raised nurseries. After sowing the seeds, it takes about 2-3 weeks for them to germinate. Capsicums will be ready for transplanting after 6 weeks.
Seedling beds can be lightly shaded in the first two weeks of germination and seedling development and watering done twice a day if in a hot environment.
In the nursery, add a small amount of totally dry compost manure and mix thoroughly with the top soil. Adding manure on the nursery ensures a strong and healthy seedling hence a healthy capsicum (pilipili hoho) when transplanted.
In a capsicum nursery, ensure that the distance between the rows is about 1.5 inches. This will help leave enough space for watering and spraying
On spraying, if mornings are too cold, spray the nursery with a mild mix of mildew preventive herbicide. Do not spray anything else on the nursery; remember the seedlings are too weak for any strong sprays or fertilizers.
Capsicum Farming in Ghana – Transplanting
Transplant in the evenings or early in the morning though it can also be done during the day with no adverse effects. One week before transplanting, harden off the capsicum seedlings by reducing frequency of watering gradually, don’t do it abruptly. On the day of transplanting, wet the nursery enough to wet the soil and allow easy uprooting of the capsicum seedlings from the nursery without damaging the roots. A garden trowel should be used to uproot the seedlings. Have the farm field irrigated before planting to allow easy planting.
Planting on the farm field is done on wet furrows by pressing the seedling down with your index finger deep enough – roughly one inch this is by creating of irrigated furrows
Plant the seedlings on both sides of each furrow. Make sure the capsicum seedlings are planted close to the floor of the furrow to make sure the plant has maximum uptake of irrigated water.
Capsicum Farming in Ghana
First 2-3 Capsicum leaves dropping off
Note that the just transplanted capsicums will lose the first 2-3 leaves. At planting, 250kg/ha of double super phosphate fertilizer should be applied.
Capsicum Farming in Ghana – Pests
Spider Mites attack:
These are very small red mites. They mostly survive in hot weather and under intense heat and windy conditions can quickly multiply and spread even to nearby farms. During dry weather farmers can spend lots of money on sprays to prevent or cure spider mite attacks.
Note that spider mites can be extensively destructive, clearing a whole crop at any stage. They are a big headache to a farmer.
These mostly attack the flowers. They are less sited on capsicums but it is good to always spend some time hunting for them weekly. You will have to sample quite a number of flowers across the field. Hold the flower carefully and look inside for any insects.
White Flies Attack:
For White Flies, you can sight them early in the morning by tapping on the crops. You will see them flying off in big numbers. They have little effect on the crop. They mostly come around during the rainy and cold seasons.
This nocturnal caterpillar curls around seedling stems and eats through them. They are controlled by using cutworm collars and applying beneficial nematodes to the soil.
Infected plants become stunted and yellowish. Also Severely affected plants may wilt. To control, use crop rotation; flooding fields greatly reduces nematode populations, soil fumigants or nematicides may be used. Seeding during the fallow season with crotalaria or African Marigold and ploughing in will reduce nematode population.
Capsicum Farming in Ghana – Diseases
This makes the leaves start folding up. That means less photosynthesis, hence a poor fruit and crop. At the end, low harvest.
The disorder is caused by lack of calcium. It creates dark brown or black spots on immature fruits. To overcome it, plants should be evenly watered to ensure a steady flow of calcium to the fruits, especially at the forming stage.
Here, seedlings suddenly fall over and rot. This is caused by fungus and can also be prevented by keeping the soil in which seedlings grow slightly dry to avoid excessive watering.
These are microscopic soil-dwelling worms that can invade roots and make them wilt. they can also be eradicated by growing a cover crop of marigolds or rye in infested fields for rotation
May occur in the field or develop as a post-harvest decay of pepper fruits. To control anthracnose, use pathogen-free seed and rotate crops. Fungicides can reduce losses.
Small water-soaked spots on leaves become necrotic with yellow borders. To control, rotate pepper with other non-susceptible crops, also Sprays of copper-based fungicides will reduce damage.
The initial symptom is wilting of lower leaves followed by a sudden and permanent wilt of the entire plant without yellowing. To control, use pathogen-free seedbeds to produce disease-free transplants, fumigate seedbeds and also sterilize the planting medium for container-grown plants, use raised beds to facilitate drainage.
The most common symptom is a stem or collar rot followed by sudden wilting without foliar yellowing, this is also controlled through the use of resistant cultivars, raised beds, crop rotation and fungicides.
Capsicum Farming in Ghana – Irrigation
Capsicums need uniform soil moisture conditions for high production, also dry periods may cause shedding of flowers and young fruits, and blossom end rot on the fruit. During hot weather, water crops in sandy soil twice daily.
Trickle irrigation is recommended when combined with black plastic mulch, this results in fewer weeds and a saving in water. It is also useful for capsicums under cloches to increase soil temperatures in cooler weather.
Capsicum Farming in Ghana – Harvesting
Harvesting starts 2.5 to three months after planting and can continue for four to six months with good management, only mature fruits should be picked and also packaged for market. Sweet peppers should be harvested when filled out and still green.
Harvested fruits should be placed under shade for grading, sorting, and also packaging to avoid shriveling, Export produce should conform to the required standards with respect to quality, packaging and labeling.
Yields vary depending on cultivar and management practices. 10-22 MT/ha are achievable.
Land rent 250.00
Land preparation 400.00
Fertilizer and manure 2368.00
Total estimated cost 6868.00
Average yield/ha = 10 tons =10,000 kg
Percentage loss of 5%
Available yield = 95/100×10,000kg = 9,500kg
Packaging in 6 kg box = 9500/6 =1584 boxes
Farm gate price/6 kg box = Ghc10
Income = 1584×10 = Ghc15840.00
Net income = Ghc15840-6868
= Ghc 8,972.00
Note: This budget does not include fixed cost and overheads.