What's killing my peppers?

Asked July 3, 2014, 5:24 PM EDT

What's killing my peppers. I used to get 3 ft tall bushes with buckets of peppers. For the last five years I get stunted sticks with maybe a few peppers. Picture attached. I have had the soil tested twice by the U and everything comes back in the normal range. Thanks Kevin

Hennepin County Minnesota

1 Response

Hi Kevin,
Usually, when a crop (or even a few plants) that was successful in a particular location begins to fail in subsequent years it can be a result of one or two factors. If this condition has persisted over the past five years, and soil tests come back with good results it leads me to think that there
is some sort of virus or bacterium or fungal spore that is persisting in your soil. A regular soil test does not scan for disease problems.

When I look at the photos of your plants it appears that there is some yellowing, and there are some black spots on the leaves. This is usually a sign of some sort of fungal, or bacterial infection.

This last two springs in our area have been unusually wet. This environmental condition favors lots of disease problems, and your peppers may be exhibiting some of them.

The first line of defense with any disease problem is to immediately dispose of any affected leaves - either on the plant or on the ground.
Secondly, it is important to rotate your crops. In fact, it is a good practice to rotate planting areas even if there are no obvious problems because you can avoid a build-up of problem inoculations (viruses and fungal spores that can over-winter in the soil).

Here are some links that you should look over to see if any of the symptoms that are listed match your experience. Even though some of these links are from other regions they still apply to Minnesota:
http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/diagnose/plant/vegetable/pepper/plantstunted.html
http://learningstore.uwex.edu/assets/pdfs/A2604.pdf
http://extension.umd.edu/learn/bacterial-leaf-spot-pepper
I hope this information is helpful. Please contact AaE again if you have further
questions.