Sweet bell peppers grow superbly in the Golden State, where in 2009 commercial growers raised almost $230 million worth of the blocky lobed fruits for market. Home gardeners as well can pick from the most readily available of the 200 varieties of bell peppers. The University of California Davis conducts field trials and surveys to determine which varieties work best and offer the greatest disease resistance. Most peppers mature in 72 to 75 days.
Keystone Resistant Giant TMV
This heirloom bears blocky 5-inch peppers with thick, dark-green flesh on 30-inch plants. Its parentage includes California Wonder and a Hungarian cultivar. North Carolina State University's horticultural department notes that Keystone bears a high percentage of large fruits that stay green and that the plants stand up well as the season progresses. Keystone offers resistance to the tobacco mosaic virus.
This sweet bell hybrid features plants that bear 5-inch by 4 3/4-inch, thick-fleshed fruits, notes the Cornell Cooperative Extension, as well as resistance to bacterial leaf spot. Bred by the agrigiant Petoseed Co., Bell Boy produces mostly four-lobed fruits with thick walls on plants with a uniform habit, fruit size and shape, as is typical of hybrids. Like Keystone, Bell Boy can resist the tobacco mosaic virus.
Plants bear blocky, three- or four-lobed, 4-inch square, firm-walled, deep-green fruit in 68 to 69 days, ripening to red after 72 to 73 days. N.C. State describes this as an upright, prolific bell pepper, commonly available in market packs at garden centers. This pepper works well for stuffing, notes the Iowa State Extension.
These 22-inch tall, compact, densely foliaged plants bear thick-walled fruit that mature to red. Yolo Wonder is larger and more resistant to mosaic than California Wonder, Cornell reports. Yolo descends from a cross between the California Wonder and Elephant Trunk peppers, according to N.C. State, and resists the common strain of tobacco mosaic virus.
Golden Summer Hybrid, Golden Bell
Both of these hybrids bear three- or four-lobed, blocky, thick-walled, light-green fruit maturing to deep gold, according to the University of California Davis. N.C. State notes that Golden Summer Hybrid provides good foliage cover for the fruits and matures a bit earlier, at 65 days.
The University of California Davis reports that Double Up, Encore, Red Bell, Mercado, RPP 9650, Affinity, Baron and RPP 16900 performed most strongly in sweet bell pepper field trials. Most of the varieties produced extra-large fruits.