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Old October 26, 2016   #1
b54red
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Default Worst year for bells in a very long time

It has been a lot of years since I last had a disastrous season with bell peppers but this year was the worst in a very long time. The year started out pretty good and the plants grew well until mid summer and then bam! one thing after another. First this weird leather skin condition developed on most of my bells. This is only something I have seen once before and it only affected a few fruits but not this year. Second came very hot weather with very clear skies and very high ultraviolet radiation and unbelievable sun scald on any pepper that wasn't totally shaded by leaves. To make things worse many of the leaves actually got sun scald and new growth tips got burned. I finally put up some shade cloth but the damage was irreversible. Despite the drought I kept them watered and fertilized as usual but they hardly grew at all and hoping for better luck in the fall I kept nursing them along getting a few runty bells here and there. More and more of my plants just withered and quit making new growth and blooms til now I only have one pepper plant out of 25 that has even a few fruits on it that might be good enough to eat. The rest of my plants look like skeletal remains with few if any leaves and the ones they do have are droopy, withered and discolored. I thought it might be the bed so I started a dozen or so in another bed with shade cloth but before they got over a foot tall they were hit with the same loss of leaves and droopiness. I suspect the relentless spider mites and whiteflies may have contributed to the problems brought on by extreme heat and drought but most of my tomatoes survived the ravages of these pests albeit with fewer leaves and looking quite bedraggled at times.

Fall is usually the best time for bell pepper production down here but this year is a no go. I talked to a friend of mine and he has had the same problems but not as bad since some of his peppers get shade for part of the day but his production has been miserly also. This time of the year I am usually giving away bell peppers by the bag full but I guess I'll have to bite the bullet and buy any decent peppers at 4 dollars a pound at the grocery store.

Bill
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Old October 26, 2016   #2
PaulF
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Sorry to hear the bad news. We must have switched conditions because this was far and away the best pepper year ever. My pepper growing woes were getting on my nerves. Here it was excellent on all sweet pepper varieties. Hopefully it will continue and your peppers will rebound next year.
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Old October 26, 2016   #3
dmforcier
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Every year is my worst year with bells. I gave up on them years ago.

But yours is a story of horror, appropriate for Halloween. Do you treat for your pests at all?
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Old October 26, 2016   #4
Cole_Robbie
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Giving them enough water is usually my issue with bells. Hot peppers thrive being neglected, but without adequate water, my bells get thin-walled, tough-skinned, and deformed in shape.
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Old October 26, 2016   #5
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My plants look nice but production has been scanty.

Jon
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Old October 27, 2016   #6
MadCow333
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I grew beautiful seedlings. Then the weather got unseasonably warm. Then it snowed in May. MAY! They it went to abnormally hot drought weather for about 6 weeks. By the time the bell peppers got growing, it was already fall. I got nice bell peppers, just darned few of them.

I grew American Seed's California Wonder from seed, and bought unknown brand Lady Bell and Revolution at a local nursery. All of them did about the same. The cold weather slowed them to a crawl and they didn't like that hot dry weather, either.

Oh, and a several of the larger Lady Bell or Revolution were found to have one or more smaller peppers growing within them. Since I haven't grown those 2 varieties before, I don't know if they are prone to that or not. I picked them and tossed them into the same bag, and they all looked alike, so I can't be sure which ones had secondary peppers inside.

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Old October 27, 2016   #7
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Sorry that you had such a rotten pepper-growing season Bill.

My peppers loved the heat, but not the drought and the constant wind. They didn't taste so wonderful raw, but the flavour condensed and was amazing when cooked, so I cannot complain.

Linda
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Old April 24, 2017   #8
b54red
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I finally narrowed down the main reason for my terrible bell pepper crop last year. After looking at page after page of pepper disease photos it became fairly clear that the main culprit was Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus although a couple showed some signs of fusarium wilt damage before the TSWV hit. I have never had such a large percentage of my peppers go from healthy and productive to sick and dying in a matter of a few weeks. So any of you that live in areas that get hit by TSWV on your tomatoes you need to look up the pictures of the symptoms of TSWV on peppers. Once the symptoms showed clearly there was no hope for a good crop from then on. It was just a matter of waiting for them to keep going downhill.

Had I known at the time the symptoms became obvious that I was dealing with TSWV I would have just pulled most of them and started some more seed for an attempt at fall peppers. This year if I see any plants develop the symptoms I will be ready with some replacement plants. I foolishly tried to cure them with all kinds of fungicides and fertilizers to no avail. When it first hit I thought the plants were getting some kind of weird sun scald from the intense heat that started in June. I tried shading the plants and it did no good at all just like everything else I tried. Just like on tomatoes the fruits that were already growing well made it to maturity without too much problem but the younger fruit and blooms did awful once the plants got sick. The TSWV also killed most of the new growth tips meaning the future was poor for any future fruiting. Also like tomato plants the plants that were already large and healthy when they got TSWV were able to withstand the disease far longer than the young immature plants.

Bill
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Old April 24, 2017   #9
dmforcier
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So I gather that there's no treatment for TSWV (other than radical plantectomy)?
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Old April 27, 2017   #10
b54red
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None that I know of. I thought that it must have been some type of blight because the other people I know who are heavy gardeners in this area also had the same thing happen to their bell peppers. Odd how it hit bells so bad and it was only a slightly worse than normal year for TSWV on tomatoes.

Bill
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