Machinery and Equipment Guide

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Bell PeppersMachinery and equipment required for bell pepper production will vary by a grower’s preferred production method and operation size. The following discussion shares basic machinery and equipment needs for bell pepper production. Depending on a grower’s operation size, expertise and previous machinery investments, the grower must determine whether to purchase and operate the equipment, engage a custom service provider or possibly rent and operate the necessary equipment.

Machinery and Equipment Needs

When growing bell peppers, producers who create raised beds, cover them with plastic mulch, install drip irrigation and plant pepper plants in double rows have tended to record good yields and high-quality fruit production. The following discussion explains typical machinery needs for this production model and gives ideas for alternatives.

Several types of machinery and equipment support pepper production. For field preparation, producers first prepare the planting site. This requires using a disk, subsoiler, roller, chisel plow and bed shaper. During the site preparation stage, producers may use a broadcast spreader to apply fertilizer. If producers choose to band fertilizer over raised beds instead of apply it to the whole field, then they would need to adjust the fertilizer rate to account for only applying product to the planting area.

After preparing the planting beds, producers can spray herbicide. A boom sprayer can be used to apply the herbicide. During the growing season, producers can also consider weeding by hand to manage weed populations.

To plant bell pepper seedlings, producers have the option to use a transplanter or hand labor. A mulch layer with drip attachment can place both plastic mulch and drip tape within the planting area. If producers lay plastic mulch before planting pepper seedlings, then the transplanter must puncture the plastic.

Harvesting bell peppers generally occurs by hand. This may differ from the harvest protocol observed for hot pepper production. When harvesting hot peppers, such as jalapeno and chili peppers, producers may use mechanical harvesters.

To clean bell pepper fields after harvest, producers first remove the staking system if they had installed one. Then, they can collect plastic mulch and drip tape using a mulch lifter and winder and drip tape receiver head. They would follow that operation by mowing the crop residues, and then, producers can disc the field to incorporate the residues. Rolling the plastic mulch and drip tape can make these items more compact for their removal. A cold storage system will be necessary to maintain pepper quality and promote shelf life after harvest.

Equipment and Machinery Needs for Bell Pepper Production*

Tractor X
Disk X
Subsoiler X
Roller X
Broadcast spreader X
Chisel plow X
Bed shaper X
Boom sprayer X
Transplanter X
Mulch layer X
Mower X
Mulch lifter and winder and drip tape receiver head X
Cold storage X

Kaiser, Cheryl, Matt Ernst and Shawn Wright. 2014. Bell Peppers. University of Kentucky. Lexington, KY 40506.

Motes, James, Jim Criswell and John Damicone. Pepper Production. Oklahoma State University. Stillwater, OK 74074.

Orzolek, Michael D., Lynn F. Kime, Steven M. Bogash, Jayson K. Harper and R. Matthew Harsh. 2010. Pepper Production. Penn State Extension. University Park, PA 16802.

Takele, Etaferahu, Oleg Daugovish and Mao Vue. 2013. Costs and Profitability Analysis for Bell Pepper Production in the Oxnard Plain, Ventura County, 2012-13. University of California. Oakland, CA 94607-5200.

Trinklein, David H. 2010. Growing Sweet Peppers in Missouri. University of Missouri Extension. Columbia, MO 65201.