We get asked a lot about what we do for pest management and about what pests Peppers get. We use organic pest products to control the pest we get.
We grow with soil start to finish and the first pest we get are fungus gnats and of course they come when we are starting seeds when we need wet soil for Germination. We use BTI ( Bacillus Thuringiensis Israelensis) this organic product works great. We add this to our water right from the start of our germination. We do this two ways first way is to use powder BTI added to our water tank. The second way, which is the one we do most is the use BTI mosquito dunks. We just put one mosquito dunk in our water tank tied to our water pump this keeps the dunk at the bottom of the tank under water. One dunk last the hole starting season. Using the mosquito dunk is the easiest way to take care of the gnats at Germination time.
There are other ways to get rid of the gnats but it depends on what time in the growing season you get them. After germination and when plants are big enough to let the soil dry out. Then thats is the best thing you can do. Letting the soil dry out will kill the gnats larvae.
We use BTI through out the season to Prevent getting the gnats in the first place . After germination and after plants are transplanted to bigger pots we use BTI powder mixed with water at a rate of 1/2 tsp to one gallon or 4L of water and just water that to the plants. We will do this in the first week after transplant to bigger pot and again if we see any sign of gnats again. Here is a link for BTI
The next pest we get is aphids. And we are going to add other pest to this because we treat them all the same way. So aphids/white flys/ and spider mites are the most popular pest we come across. To provent even getting these pests is to start your pest Management as soon as possible. If seedlings get these pests it can be hard to treat them because the seedlings are not that strong yet and most treatments are hard on them but after seedlings are up over 3 nodes it is safe to spray neem oil on them. But it is best to make sheer you don't get any of these pests in your starting station to start with. If you grow in your house and don't have pest to start with then you most likely will not have this problem with your seedlings. But if you do we suggest to remove pests by hand by killing them. And to watch ever two days to see if they are still around and do this till there are none left. We know this can be hard to do with many plants. This is why you should always start with a clean room or area. If we have this pest problem, and because we have so many plants we will start our pest program early and start spraying with neem oil. Need works by suffocating the pests and after 3 weeks or so need Oil will start to work systemically.
Our pest program consiste of us start to spray plants once they are big enough. Normally when plants are about 3 to 4 nodes high in size that's when we start to pinch off the tops. This is before or when plants get the V at the top of the plant.
So here is what we do and what we use starting when plants that are big enough. We mixed neem oil and sunlight dish soap at a rate of 5-7ml of neem oil pre litter of water and 2-3ml of sunlight soap to water. We use warm water to help the mixing of the Neem oil. We use this mix all season long this well prevent any pest from getting a colony started. We spray this ever week up until pods start growing and in most case we don't have to continue spraying because we don't have any pest to spray. We also make sheer that when we spray we spray the soil as well. This will let the plants take the neem up through its roots and the neem will start to work systemically. This well ad in pest control. This method of pest Management has served us very well over the years if you use neem right from the start on your season you will never get infested with these pests.
Now if you get pest problem before starting your neem program or in the early stages on your neem program.
This can happen because it takes about two weeks for the neem to take affect. if you have large numbers of plants you can start to spray neem every three to five days. This spraying should kill most of the pest off by suffocating them. Now if the pests priciest you may have to get more aggressive. If this happens to us we will spray with Pyrethrin or use Botanigard 22 WP. Botanigard can be used at all stages of growth it works great but it’s not cheep. But it’s certified organic and can be used right up until harvest it’s PHI is 0 Days.
( Pyrethrum/pyrethrin are a class of organic compounds normally derived from Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium that have potent insecticidal activity by targeting the nervous systems of insects. Pyrethrin comes from Chrysanthemum/ Daisy's) here is a link for more info on Pyrethrin Pyrethrin/Pyrethrum
There are many products with this in it at different Strengths the most common is around 0.9 % you can also get foggers with higher levels anywhere from 1% to 4% these would be for heavy investigations in greenhouse.
We believe that the uses of this should be a last resort. In most cases the neem will take care of any problems with Aphids White flys and Spider Mites.
Most of this is for greenhouse and in house Pest control. But it's is the same outside as well plants should be sprayed with neem Oil weekly this will keep Pest away and kill any that are there. In most cases plants outside in the ground or in pots can be sprayed with water from the hose. This will wash the bugs off the plants this works very well.
Now for those who don't mind using pesticides there are many insecticides that can be used. Most commercial greenhouses and nursery use systemic insecticides like Imidacloprid,Acephate,acetamiprid just to name a few. This are used world wide on many agricultural crops. traces of these pesticides are found in foods in most country's and the USA EPA has a list of acceptable levels of these pesticides that are aloud to be in fruits and vegetables and in wheat and grains and cereal. Here is a link to the EPA for insecticide tolerances in food USA EPA
It is really quite scary what is acceptable to be in our foods. This is another good reason to be growing your own foods.
Here are some pictures of badly infested plants that can recover from Pests if you put in the effort
As you can see this plant has Aphids very bad but if you wash them off with cold water with good pressure they will wash off. And if your plants are old enough you can cut them back or remove most of the damage to leaves and plants should regrow.
please see next pictures this is the same plant that was badly infested one week after being washed and cut back. Most times plants will recover very well.
We hope that this info will help you out with your growing and to never give up on a pepper plant they are like little trees and if they have a good root system they will keep growing. This is one thing we really love about Capsicum .