Placed on the Web Jan 97 by the NSF Center for IPM
North Carolina Information


Management Practices for avoiding pepper problems.

Disease and insect pests threaten efficient pepper production by lowering yield, reducing fruit quality and making harvests unreliable. These risks can be reduced by using sound technology and wise management:

Keep records.

Select adapted cultivars, where available, with resistance to mosaic, other diseases and insects.

Select fertile, well drained fields and check annually for pH, nutrients, nematodes, southern stem blight, soil insects and weeds.

Use proven horticultural practices (e.g. crop rotation, plastic films, starter solutions, irrigation, cultivation, nutrition, weed management).

Use bleach-treated seed and certified containerized transplants; never dip plants in water; and avoid overhead irrigation in plant beds.

Keep seed and plant lots separate

Practice sanitation.

Spray plants for bacterial spot prior to pulling.

Obtain pest-free plants and transplant on a raised bed after soil temperature exceeds 55°F.

Identify insects and diagnose all leafspots, rots and abnormalities promptly.

Monitor insect populations by trapping and scouting.

Spray at first appearance of disease and when insects warrant with a 250+ psi sprayer or a mist blower.

Harvest quality fruit, avoid injuries during handling and immediately remove field heat.

Use 50 ppm chlorine in wash and receiving water.

Fore more information see figure captions on this poster and Commercial Pepper Production Bulletin.

Plate 1

Pydrin injury is expressed as a whitish bleaching of actively growing leaves. Plants stressed by high temperature, and high or low moisture often exhibit injury a few days after being sprayed. Most non-bell peppers are especially susceptible. There is a rate response. The injury is usually minor, and the plant outgrows the damage in 7-14 days. CONTROL: A new formulation of Pydrin, known as Asana, is available and plants exhibit less injury. Avoid high rates and repeated applications on stressed plants.

Fertilizer injury often occurs in the plant bed or with banded fertilizer. Symptoms include marginal foliar burning, yellowing and browning of leaves, browning of roots, and no growth. CONTROL: Avoid overfertilization by following soil and leaf tissue test reports. Irrigation helps leach excess fertilizer.

Cygon injury is expressed initially as marginal leaf rolling, and later as degrees of flecking on the leaves. There is a rate response. CONTROL: Avoid using on small, unhardened plants. Use the low rate on established plants.

Enide injury is fairly common. Initial symptoms are marginal burn and whitish blotched. Later a brown flecking between the veins appears. CONTROL: Use preplant herbicides where applicable. Be careful and select ideal weather conditions for applying herbicides. A shield on the spray boom is helpful.

Mosaic symptoms are common, and are often confused with mutations, nutrient deficiency, or chemical injury. CONTROL: Positive diagnosis is critical to control measures (see plate 3).

Aphids. Winged and wingless green peach aphids, Myzus persicae (Sulzer), occur on the undersides of leaves. Their feeding, secretions of honeydew, and the development of black sooty mold, affects leaves and fruit. More importantly, aphids play a role in spreading plant viruses. CONTROL: Early detection with yellow pans or sticky traps is important in timing sprays. Applying systemic insecticides will give 3-4 weeks control. Stylet oil and reflective film offer some delay in the spread of aphid-borne viruses.

Twospotted spider mites, Tetranychus urticae Koch. Mites suck plant juices causing yellow leaves and poor growth. Mites tend to build up around field margins during hot, dry weather. CONTROL: Scout fields and spray with a miticide/insecticide when infestations occur. Excessive and unnecessary sprays of certain carbamate and pyrethroid pesticides may cause mite populations to increase.

Wireworms, Conoderus vespertinus (F.), are associated with fields previously either in small grain or not in row crops. CONTROL: Avoid problem fields, bait with corn in 6-in. soil plugs, and use soil insecticides.

Flea beetles, Epitrix hirtipennis (Melsheimer), are primarily associated with recent transplants. Overwintering adults move to plants, causing small holes in leaves. CONTROL: Early detection and prompt insecticide sprays provide the best control.

Margined blister beetles, Epicauta pestifera Werner, sometimes feed voraciously on foliage in late summer. Damage to leaf margins is typical. CONTROL: Sprays for major worm species usually offer control.

Pepper weevils, Anthonomus eugenii Cano, are introduced on transplants grown further south. Adults oviposit in fruit causing scars in dimples. Larvae feed in the seed cavity causing fruit to drop or become deformed. CONTROL: Avoid using transplants grown further south having flowers, buds, or small fruit. Inspection certificates and insect free transplants are encouraged. Weekly sprays of pyrethroid insecticides are suggested.

Hemiptera and injury. (a) Leaffooted bugs, Leptoglossus phyllopus (L.), (b) tarnished plant bugs, Lygus lineolaris (Palisot de Beauvois); and (c) stink bugs, Euchistus spp., probe and feed on buds and fruit causing aborted buds, or groups of white blotched on the fruit (halo). CONTROL: Control broadleaf weeds, check for insects, and spray with an insecticide.

Vegetable leafminers, Liriomyza sativae Blanchard, are common, but injury is usually confined to small greenhouse plants and recent transplants. CONTROL: Early detection and prompt sprays provide the best control.

Plate 2

Pepper maggot. Zonosemata electa (Say). Adult flies resemble house flies, but have black markings in the wings. Females oviposit in fruit which becomes dimpled or deformed. Although any type pepper may serve as host, cherry pepper is preferred. Infested fruit often turns red prematurely. CONTROL: Rotate fields in pepper. Early detection of adults with yellow sticky traps will help determine when to initiate sprays. Weekly sprays by air or with airblast sprayers, to fields and their margins, will control adult flies.

European corn borer, Ostrinia nubilalis (Hubner). Second and third generation corn borers are the most destructive. Egg mass resembles fish scales and appears on undersides of leaves. Young larvae feed on the surface, and within a day or two, tunnel into the fruit around the seed caps. Infested fruit often abort, decay, or may be harvested and end up in the market channels. CONTROL: Monitor adult flight periods with blacklight insect traps or sex pheromone traps to determine when to initiate sprays. Spraying every 5-7 days may be needed as long as a significant moth flight period exists.

Black cutworms, Agrotis ipsolon (Hufnagel), occasionally cut plants at the soil line, reducing stands. Damage occurs during hot, humid weather and in the evening, and is usually confined near field margins or weeds. CONTROL: Moth collections in blacklight insect traps or sex pheromone traps indicate cutworm activity and relative numbers. Use baits or spray drenches.

Fall armyworms, Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith), usually move into North Carolina before July 1. Egg mass contains moth scales and appears on leaves. Larval feeding on foliage may be extensive; however, damage to fruit is of more concern. CONTROL: Moth collections in blacklight insect traps or sex pheromone traps indicate activity and relative numbers. Apply timely thorough sprays of certain insecticides.

Yellowstriped armyworm, Spodoptera omithogalli (Guenee), is present year round in North Carolina. It may be found in plant houses, on plants, or inside fruit later in the season. CONTROL: Sprays for other worms also control this armyworm.

Corn earworm, Heliothis zea (Boddie). Adult moths are usually most abundant from late July through mid September. An entrance or exit hole on the shoulder of fruit is evidence that earworms have been present. Many larval color forms may be present. Other indicators are large excrement deposits, extensive feeding damage, or large worms. CONTROL: Moth collections in blacklight insect traps or sex pheromone traps indicate earworm activity and relative numbers. Sprays every 5-7 days may be needed when populations are high.

Cabbage looper, Trichoplusia ni (Hubner). Larvae occasionally feed on fruit where damage is usually confined to the surface. CONTROL: Check blacklight insect traps and sex pheromone traps for this migratory insect. Sprays for major worm species should give acceptable looper control.

Beet armyworms, Spodoptera exigua (Hubner), are late season pests that ravage foliage and later move into fruit. CONTROL: Blacklight insect traps indicate activity. Scout fields and spray when small larvae are seen.

Tobacco hornworms, Manduca sexta (L.), may be serious defoliators. CONTROL: Monitor blacklight insect traps for adult activity. Some control via mass trapping is possible. Check for stripped foliage or large droppings underneath plants. Sprays for major worm species usually control hornworm.

Plate 3

Seedling blight and damping-off caused by the airborne fungus Botrytis. A brownish mold usually appears on dead tissue (see insert). CONTROL: Maintain air circulation and low humidity; spray during rainy periods.

Seedling damping-off caused by the soil-borne fungus Pythium often starts in small, round patches which enlarge outward. A white, cottony mold may occur on infected stems. CONTROL: Treat soil and use sanitation to avoid introducing the pathogen.

Bacterial, Phoma, and Cercospora leafspots. CONTROL: Seed treatment, sanitation, and sprays.

Southern blight caused by the soil-borne fungus Sclerotium rolfsii occurs in "hot-spots". Plants suddenly wilt and die. Stem bases and roots rot, and a white, stringy mold develops on infected areas and adjacent soil. Mustard-seed-like spores may be seen in the moldy growth. Blight usually appears when warm, wet weather follows a dry period. CONTROL: Deep turn plow with a moldboard plow; avoid problem fields; use fungicide in transplant water; fumigate then cover soil with plastic film.

Phytophthora blight caused by the soil-borne watermold Phytophthora capsici. Symptoms resemble southern blight, except no moldy growth occurs on infected tissues. It is associated with wet fields having high soluble salts. During rainy periods or with frequent overhead irrigation, large spots may appear on leaves, stems and fruit. It may also affect squash, tomato and eggplant. CONTROL: Avoid wet fields, high soil salts, and frequent irrigation; rotate with nonsusceptible crops; use soil and foliar fungicides.

Mosaic is caused by tobacco mosaic (TMV), tobacco etch (TEV), potato virus Y (PVY), tomato ringspot (TomRV), tobacco rattle virus (TRV), and others. They reduce the productive life of peppers, and are especially troublesome in tobacco producing areas. CONTROL: TMV, sanitation and resistant cultivars; TEV & PVY, aphid stylet oil sprays and reflective films; TomRV & TRV, nematode control.

Seedlings with bacterial leafspot, Xanthomonas vesicatoria. Expanded cotyledons usually drop off. Seedlings may be contaminated and not show symptoms until after transplanting. CONTROL: Keep all seed and plant lots separate from each other. Do not use plants from infected lots. Use nearby transplants with great caution: spray regularly with a bactericide; never handle when wet; never dip in water. Avoid overhead irrigation that results in splashing or misting.

Early symptoms of bacterial spot. Note crinkling and bunching of upper foliage, and lower leaf yellowing and fall. Initial field distribution is usually in "hot spots", a consequence of its seed-borne nature. CONTROL: Spray when one plant in the field shows symptoms. Control is poor during rainy periods.

Late-season symptoms of bacterial spot. Note defoliation. Fruit is often sunscalded and predisposed to rots. CONTROL: See number 8.

Bacterial leafspot lesions have irregular margins and vary in size. Leaf margins often have a black edge. When a spot is cut in water, and observed under magnification, a granular cloud of bacterial ooze can be seen leaving the cut surface (see insert).

Fruit with bacterial leafspot is unattractive and poorly shaped, will not hold after harvest, and has contaminated seed. CONTROL: In addition to field practices, maintain 50 ppm chlorine in seed extraction water.

Fruit rots caused by Altemaria and Colletotrichum. CONTROL: Crop rotation, sanitation, and fungicides.

Phoma fruit rot usually starts in tissues that are sunscald. CONTROL: Protect foliage from bacterial leafspot and stresses that cause leaf fall.

Blossom end rot caused by calcium deficiency usually occurs as a dry, firm rot on the blossom end of fruit. CONTROL: Maintain proper soil pH and avoid moisture stress. Spray foliage with dilute calcium nitrate to help avoid rot on new fruit.

Bacterial soft rot caused by Erwinia spp. is prevalent during hot, wet weather. It may be a serious postharvest problem. CONTROL: Spray during the growing season with a copper fungicide; keep fruit cool after picking; maintain 50 ppm chlorine in wash or rinse water.


Selection of Insecticides, Miticides, Fungicides and Nematicides and Minimum Days to Harvest 1,2

Insect or Mite 7 Orthene 5 Diazinon 0 Cygon 1 Thiodan 3 Lannate 21 Furadan 7 Pydrin 3 Pounce 3 Ambush 0 Sevin<>3 15 Parathion 3 Malathion
Aphids +++ ++ +++ + - + - - - - ++ ++
Cabbage looper +++ - - ++ +++ + +++ +++ +++ ++ ++ +
Cutworms ++ + - + ++ - + + + + + -
European corn borer +++ - - + + ++ ++ ++ ++ ++ + -
Corn earworm +++ - - + + ++ +++ +++ +++ ++ + -
Fall armyworm<>4 +++ - - + +++ + + + + + + -
Flea beetles ++ ++ - + + + ++ ++ ++ ++ + +
Leafminer - ++ ++ + - + - - - - - +
Pepper maggot ++ - ++ + - - + + + - + ++
Pepper weevil + - - - - - ++ ++ ++ + + ALIGN=MIDDLE>+
Spider mites - + + - - - - - - - + +
Stink bugs<>5 +++ + + + ++ + +++ +++ +++ ++ ++ +
Tobacco hornworm +++ + - ++ +++ + +++ +++ +++ ++ ++ +
Wireworms - ++ - - - + - - - - - -

Disease 5 Maneb, Mancozeb 0 Copper (fixed)6 Streptomycin Sulfate 7 7 Ridomil 2E Stylet Oil PCNB Chlorine Bleach Telone II Methyl Bromide Vorlex Vapam Telone C-17 Vorlex 201
Anthracnose ++ + - - - - - - - - - - -
Bacterial leafspot - + ++ - - - ++ - - - - - -
Bacterial soft rot - ++ ++ - - - ++ - - - - - -
Botrytis - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Cercospora + + - - - - - - - - - - -
Fruit rots (bacterial) - + - - - - ++ - - - - - -
Fruit rots (fungal) ++ + - ++ - - + - - - - - -
Damping off <>9 - - - + - + - - ++ ++ ++ ++ ++
Mosaic (aphid)<>10 - - - - + - - - - - - - -
Mosaic (TMV) - - - - - - ++ - - - - - -
Photophthora blight + + - ++<>8 - - - - ++ ++ + ++ ++
Root-knot (nematode) - - - - - - - +++ +++ ++ ++ ++ ++
Southern blight - - - - - ++ - - + ++ ++ ++ ++

- do not use, not effective, or no information
+ partially effective
+++ most effective or first choice

1 This information is provided only for background and is based on field observations This use of trade names does not imply endorsement or criticism of similar products not mentioned. Actual selection and uses of pesticides must follow product labels. Tank mixes are probably more effective, as insects may develop resistance to a pesticide with repeated use. Alternate classes of insecticides where possible.
2 Apply insecticides in late afternoon to minimize bee kills
3 Repeated use of Sevin may induce aphid problems
4 Also controls other armyworms.
5 Also controls other true bugs.
6 Tank mixes with maneb or moancozeb are more ctive
7 Use Streptomycin sulfate with copper on transplants in beds, not for field use.
8 Fungus may develop resistance to fungicide; if so, switch fungicide.
9 Use PCNB for Rhizoctonica, and Ridomil for Pythium, damping off.
10 Stylet oil, aphicides, aluminim reflective mulch.

Useful Resources and References

Professional, Advisory and Educational Services
County Agent
Agricultural Extension Service
County Seat
Office in Every County

Disease and Insect Identification
Plant Disease and Insect Clinic
Box 7616
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, N.C. 27695-7616

Nematode, Soil and Plant Analysis
Agronomic Division
N.C. Department of Agriculture
Raleigh, N.C. 27611

Production of Commercial Vegetable Transplants
AG-337, 16pp
N.C. Agricultural Extension Service
NCSU, Raleigh, N.C. 27695-7603

North Carolina Agricultural Chemical Manual
325pp., revised annually, $10-00
N.C. Agricultural Extension Service
NCSU, Raleigh, N.C. 27695-7603

Insect and Related Pests of Vegetables
AG-295, illus., 173pp., $7.00
N.C. Agricultural Extension Service
NCSU, Raleigh, N.C. 27695-7603

Commercial Pepper Production
AG-387, 16pp.
N.C. Agricultural Extension Service
NCSU, Raleigh, N.C. 27695-7603

This poster is published by the North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service in cooperation with the North Carolina Pickle Growers Association, Inc. to assist growers in cropping efficiency. For more information contact your County Agent.

Prepared by:

Kenneth A. Sorensen, Extension Entomologist
Charles W. Averre, Extension Plant Pathologist
Nancy Leidy assisted.