Growing Peppers – How To Deal With Leaf Curl

Bell Peppers, like others in the Capsicum Annuum species, are fun to grow and can potentially yield a lot of beautiful pungent fruits. While fruits can be harvested within 120 days from germination, there are so many things that can go wrong until harvest and today we’ll look at the dreaded ‘leaf curl’.



Leaf curl is a very clear indicator that something is wrong

Bell Peppers are considered a high value crop (HVC) because they are hard to grow until harvest. While normally suitable for both lowland and upland environments, conventional growers prefer the upland because of the reduced temperatures in upland tropical environments. However, bell peppers can perform just as well inside greenhouse controlled environments despite the higher temperatures through the regulation of light and direct injection of nutrient-enriched irrigation.

It’s no secret that bell peppers and other chili peppers are hard to grow without intervention in open field areas due to the many risks facing the plant. From bacterial blight to aphid/mites infestations to anthracnose caused by fungal disease – these are but a few examples of the dangers faced by the plant that a grower must be aware of.




Lowland bell pepper cultivation inside greenhouse 

Why are the leaves curling?

If you’ve made it past the germination, seedling, and transplanting stage, you’ve already come a long way. Strong, healthy seedlings are an early indicator of successful yields. However, as the plants continue thru the vegetative stage (2 months), there are other risks ahead. One of the most common occurrence is the sudden shrinking and downward leaf curl with visible deterioration and browning of budding sites. This eventually leads to blossom end rot in the fruits, which is characterized by a dark, sunken spot at the bottom of the developing fruit.




Blossom End Rot in Bell Pepper

Blossom End Rot in Tomato

How to deal with Leaf Curl?

There are two things to check. First is the presence of mites or aphids. These are hard to see unless you turn over the leaves and look closely. To make spotting these tiny pests easier, use a portable blacklight at night and look underneath the leaves. If you are afflicted by pests, then take the necessary controls to remove the pests from your grow area. We use this blacklight.

Second, and especially for those using soil-less substrates, is to check for a Calcium (Ca) deficiency. Chances are your nutrient solution lacks enough Ca especially if using a non-A/B fertilizer solution. Calcium is an essential nutrient to build cell walls so applying an ample dosage of Ca is vital for the health of the fruit-bearing plant. The problem is easily fixable by mixing Calcium Nitrate separately with water and in a few days the plant will respond positively and produce new green growth.

Need Calcium Nitrate? Buy here.




Bell Pepper first stage of recovery, new growth takes place

Bell Pepper well into recovery, healthy stem and foliage

Fruit bearing after Ca deficiency recovery

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