Peppers (Capsicum species) often suffer from a physiological problem that leads to their destruction in the home garden. Though not caused by a fungal pathogen, parasite or bacterium, this problem may lead to a loss of up to half of your crops, according to the Ohio State University Extension. Determine the cause of blossom-end rot as well as how to prevent and handle an occurrence.
Capsicum species that are given proper care and kept vigorous are much less likely to experience blossom-end rot than neglected or stressed pepper plants. Grow peppers in locations in full sunlight for successful growth, according to the University of Illinois Extension HortAnswers. Peppers prefer moist, well-drained soil with good fertility.
Blossom-end rot is not the result of an outside invasion of pathogens, but a problem caused by a nutrient deficiency. When calcium levels in pepper fruit drop, the lack of this essential nutrient inhibits normal growth during development, according to the Ohio State University Extension. In addition to an inadequate supply of calcium, extremely dry conditions or improper watering of your peppers may contribute to the progression of blossom-end rot.
If fruit is actively growing during blossom-end rot in Capsicum plants, the tissue cannot form correctly and atrophies. This destruction of plant tissue results in, as the name suggests, a "sunken lesion at the blossom end" according to the Ohio State University Extension. Symptoms begin as a damaged area on the end of the pepper that appears saturated with water. The area expands, sometimes encompassing half of of the entire fruit, darkens to black and takes on a leather-like texture. This disorder creates a prime environment for invasion by disease pathogens, leading to subsequent illness.
Keep your soil's calcium levels within a normal range through good cultural control. Verify that your soil pH remains near 6.5; lime your soil until it reaches the appropriate level. When levels change, calcium ion content within the soil changes and other competitive ions take over, inhibiting normal calcium absorption, according to the Ohio State University Extension. Additionally, maintain a healthy, consistent water balance in soil. Capsicum plants need approximately 1 inch of water on a weekly basis. If it rains, take that into account when watering to prevent excessive moisture. Additionally, use mulch on your soil to prevent extremes in moisture; mulch is a good method of ensuring water retention and preventing drought as well as swings in soil temperature.
While peppers with rot will not recuperate, prevent this problem before it happens or keep it from reoccurring by balancing calcium and other nutrients. Avoid ammoniacal nitrogen fertilizers that increase ammonium ions and in turn decrease calcium. Instead, choose a nitrate nitrogen fertilizer, according to the Ohio State University Extension. Be mindful of fertilization; over-fertilizing your peppers also affects normal balances of nutrients.