Hot Peppers Pep Up North Florida Growers'
The Tomato Magazine
Growing hot peppers organically in Florida is a viable
option for growers because insect pests are not a significant threat to
hot peppers there, according to findings from an Agricultural Research
Service scientist and her collaborators.
The study compared the growth of hot peppers in two different systems.
In one, peppers were grown using organic soil nutrients, including poultry
manure and mushroom compost. In the other, peppers were grown with chemical
fertilizer and conventional pesticides.
While bell peppers are the second most important vegetable crop in Florida,
many producers also have significant acreage devoted to hot peppers.
Jesusa C. Legaspi, an entomologist with the ARS Center for Biological
Control on the campus of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Fla.,
recently reported the results from a study of Scotch Bonnet and Caribbean
Red hot pepper varieties. She collaborated on the study with scientists
from Florida A&M and the University of Florida in Gainesville. The
Center for Biological Control is a field office of the ARS Center for
Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville.
There was no difference found in the number of peppers harvested from
either organic or chemical fertilizer plots in either variety.
Populations of plant insect pests and their beneficial natural enemies
were also studied. Populations of several insect pests, including whiteflies,
aphids and thrips, were very low during the growing season, probably due
to the presence of their natural enemies, ladybugs and hover flies.
In north Florida, small growers are finding a viable niche market producing
hot peppers. Results show hot peppers may be a good market for growers
there because they seem to require little maintenance.
ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research
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