Peppers growing on a plant
Organic Gardening

How to Troubleshoot Pepper Growing Problems: Disease Management

This is part 2 of a 2 part series of posts about peppers. Part 1 reviewed the general care of pepper plants and common pests along with ways to manage pests. This post discusses the different diseases that pepper plants are susceptible to, and how to prevent and manage them.

Growing pepper plants: disease management
Growing pepper plants: disease management

Gardeners often joke about checking their gardens 5 million times a day. I’m definitely one of those people. I have to check the garden and my plants several times a day. (As if the plants grew exponentially since the last time I checked!) There is an important reason for that. That’s keeping an eye out for any pests or diseases that may be happening to your plants. Checking the garden multiple times a day isn’t really necessary!

In the last post, I discussed general care and the most common pests that can disturb your crop. This post discusses the most common diseases that affect peppers. By learning about these pepper plant diseases, you’ll know what to look out for in the garden.

Pepper Plant Diseases and Disease Management

Pepper Plant DiseaseType of DiseaseWhat it DoesPrevention & Management Tips
Anthracnose FungalIt is a fungal disease that causes spots on the plant. The spots can be yellow, black, purple, and brown in color. The plant also develops sunken lesions and spreads quickly when it is very damp or there is a lot of rain. The fungus can include leaf cupping and curling, or early leaf drop.Try to find varieties that are disease resistant to different fungi.Destroy any plants that develop anthracnose, and don’t save the seeds from these plants.To avoid spread, stay out of the garden while the plants are wet and thoroughly sanitize any tools used.
Bacterial leaf spotbacterialThis bacterial infection causes yellowing of the leaves and leaf drop. It may also include spots with black edged lesions, brown spots with yellow halo. The bacteria splashes onto debris in the garden. It also spreads through infected seeds.As preventative measures, get varieties that are resistant.Prune plants when appropriate for proper air circulation.Try a solution of baking soda, vegetable oil, and liquid soap (not detergent).Avoid overhead watering.If your plants do get this infection, remove debris from the area and do not plant in this area. 
Blossom end rotdisorderIt is a physiological disorder that causes rotting on the bottom of the fruit  due to a malabsorption of calcium.
I also spoke about blossom end rot extensively in my post ‘Blossom End Rot: What is it and how to prevent it’
Keep a consistent amount of moisture in the soil with watering. Ideally, a soaker hose or drip irrigation system should be put into place. However, if that’s not possible, ensure the plants get a deep watering.Apply mulch to your soil. There are various types of mulch that can be applied to your soil. Applying mulch helps to retain moisture in the soil, as well as prevent soil from washing away.Before planting seedlings, ensure the soil temperatures have warmed up. Cold soil will limit the plants’ nutrient uptake.Check the pH level of the soil and make sure it is about 6.5Amend the soil with fertilizers and/or add calcium to the soil.
Mosaic virusvirusThe virus causes a “mosaic” appearance on the leaves of the plant and comes from infected insects. It causes a yellow, white, light or dark green pattern that gives the impression of a mosaic. There are different types of mosaic virus, but the one that commonly affects pepper plants is known as ‘cucumber mosaic virus’ (CMV). Plants are stunted and do not grow, and they can also develop deformities.Try to find varieties that are disease resistant to different fungi.Destroy any plants that develop mosaic virus.Monitor garden and plants.Clean tools after every use to prevent any potential transmission of pests and diseases between plants.Keep soil healthy by habitually adding in compost and mulch.
Powdery mildewfungalPowdery mildew is a very common fungal infection for many plants. It spreads easily, especially during warm, humid conditions.
Southern blightfungalSouthern blight is a lethal fungal infection that is commonly found in the tropics and subtropics. It derives from a fungus that’s found in soil and plant debris. It can spread through contaminated water, unclean tools, infected plants, and infested soil and plant debris.
It can be identified by water soaked appearing lower leaves or water soaked lesions.
Identify any plants that may have this type of blight and remove them right away.As a preventative, be sure plants have proper airflow, use high quality mulch, remove debris from the garden, make sure soil is well draining, inspect plants before transplanting them into your garden.

Something else to be on the look out for is sun-scald. It is not a pest or a disease,It’s a physiological that damage to the plant caused by excessive exposure to light. It’s the plant version of a sunburn.

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