• If you need help identifying a pepper, disease, or plant issue, please post in Identification.

yield Topping your pepper plants

This is a pic of my Bhut Jolokia. aka. Ghost Pepper
This is the first time I've ever topped a pepper plant before and I am pretty impressed with the result so far. All the side stems are starting to really kick off. Does topping work better with certain varieties or do all pepper plants generally benefit from it this way?
 

Attachments

  • 20221003_081042.jpg
    20221003_081042.jpg
    145.1 KB · Views: 58

CaneDog

Extreme Member
It's different for different types. Some are just waiting for an opportunity to get bushy. Others will basically grow from just the highest remaining nodes when you top them. If you don't know the species, you can look to see how much visible growth there is at the nodes and at which nodes to get some indication before topping. Usually, if there's at least a fat little nub there the chances are good. Also, the distance between the nodes can be an indication - more distance correlating to less branching after topping. That's not always a dependable indication though especially where there might be environmentally induced stretch.

I envy you with the new season starting. Good luck!
 
It's different for different types. Some are just waiting for an opportunity to get bushy. Others will basically grow from just the highest remaining nodes when you top them. If you don't know the species, you can look to see how much visible growth there is at the nodes and at which nodes to get some indication before topping. Usually, if there's at least a fat little nub there the chances are good. Also, the distance between the nodes can be an indication - more distance correlating to less branching after topping. That's not always a dependable indication though especially where there might be environmentally induced stretch.

I envy you with the new season starting. Good luck!

Thanks canedog. I'm in Aus so it's spring over here now (thank god).
 
Topping doesn't benefit any pepper. If a pepper plant has enough space, good growing medium or soil, nutrition, and plenty of light, topping will reduce potential harvest. Topping is useful if any of those factors are limited, for aesthetics, in some cases ease of harvesting, and (in my experience) dealing with high wind events. I frequently have nature top my plants with either wind or birds (European Starlings), I rarely do so purposely if growing outdoors, but indoors I will top some plants in my grow tent...mostly varieties that have an upright growth habit.
 
Most cultivars growth habits fall into the upright/intermediate/prostrate categories and do not require topping. However, there are some cultivars that are predisposed to very upright growth habits. Topping these plants will definitely have a positive impact on yield. It can also be used effectively in situations where plants have "bolted".
 
An update photo of my Ghost Pepper, compare the first picture I posted to this one =)
Getting very bushy and lush. very happy with the result.

The fertiliser I'm using is Powerfeed Pro Series. Not sure if it's available in the US, but it's readily available at most nurseries here in Aus.
Best liquid fertiliser I think I've ever come across.
 

Attachments

  • 20221022_145514.jpg
    20221022_145514.jpg
    136 KB · Views: 30
Topping doesn't benefit any pepper. If a pepper plant has enough space, good growing medium or soil, nutrition, and plenty of light, topping will reduce potential harvest.

I've been growing Organically for the last 51 years, so I'm a bit different in some way's.
I remove living plant tissue only when there is rot or damage. I use supports for any plant that needs help.

It goes against everything I have observed, that modifying the shape & growth of a living awake plant can have
many positive effects on the health of the plant. I have had plants die from pruning, most likely I introduced a disease
when I cut them.

We really enjoy seeing the different natural shapes our plants grow into, when left to their own design. Just my .02 😀
 

CraftyFox

Extreme Member
I've been growing Organically for the last 51 years, so I'm a bit different in some way's.
I remove living plant tissue only when there is rot or damage. I use supports for any plant that needs help.

It goes against everything I have observed, that modifying the shape & growth of a living awake plant can have
many positive effects on the health of the plant. I have had plants die from pruning, most likely I introduced a disease
when I cut them.

We really enjoy seeing the different natural shapes our plants grow into, when left to their own design. Just my .02 😀

If you are trying to overwinter or otherwise grow a pepper indoors, or within confined space parameters, there are significant advantages to pruning, topping, and shaping them. Like @Indiana_Jesse already said, it will cost you in production.

Given the short seasons in the North, I wouldn't dream of topping or pruning anything non-ornamental, unless I were planning to overwinter and grow it on as a Bonchi or otherwise.. But there are certainly benefits to doing it, depending on the culture you are employing and desired results.

If pruning is killing your plants, it is likely as you suspected, or just ill timed.. Or your experience could be different in the South. How much pruning have you done on them? I usually keep some isopropyl alcohol around to disinfect tools between plants/cuts depending on the scenario.

I haven't been pruning Capsicum long, wanting to grow and learn the different natural habits first.. But I haven't seen anything to suggest pruning is a poor cultural practice with them, and quite the contrary. That is, outside of reducing your potential harvest that season. It also sets any harvesting back a solid month in the north here, but that might be desirable.

Bird Aji for example.. Single season topped vs. untopped. Everyone shown in Trade #2 Nursery.

20221026_171421.jpg
20220911_121145.jpg

Same untopped post-harvest, then topped.
20221005_131118.jpg
20221005_133533.jpg


And who says LemonDrop has to be a gangly plant? For me the choice is having one plant, or 4-5 dwarfed ones in the same amount of space. Not every Capsicum lends itself to pruning, but most seem to do just fine, from what I've seen. Most of the early season toppings were a happy accident this year.. But I'd do it again.
20221018_135749.jpg

I've got plenty of other examples, but you could find even better material by looking at posts by Bonchi artists who have been doing this a while. Here's one of my 2nd Seasons From last years overwinter..

It was late getting out, and only set about half the pods it could have, yet comparable to single season harvests I've had.. Given the cultural issues and weather this year. For a small container, I was pretty happy, and still harvesting them indoors.

20220721_131722.jpg
20220906_110751.jpg

All of this with the knowledge that my plants are probably poor examples of what they could be, and others have in similar containers.
Pruning can be done with natural or contrived forms in mind, but that has little to do with whether the cultural practice itself is organic. There are many instances where pruning can improve the health and longevity of plants, and allowing it to grow unchecked can result in reduction of the same.. Capsicum not excluded(especially culturing indoors). A great many crown type shrubs and woody plants can choke themselves out in time, and naturally die off years before they would if they were pruned.

Also, there are many forms of pruning that take place as a result of natural processes too, so to think of it as unnatural is a bit off. Weather, rabbits, and birds are the three most common for me.
 
Ok so I know I said I was going to wait till Xmas for next update but here's update #3 now on my Ghost Pepper.
Very healthy looking, stems are growing fast and it's got it's first lot of pods coming through.
Weather over here in NSW is getting progressively warmer so when I DO post my Xmas update, this and the rest of my plants should be in their optimal climate =)
 

Attachments

  • 20221110_154000.jpg
    20221110_154000.jpg
    179.4 KB · Views: 11
  • 20221110_154018.jpg
    20221110_154018.jpg
    90 KB · Views: 12
Top