Chile pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) yields are highly variable and are strongly influenced by disease and weather. The goal of two field experiments was to evaluate crop management factors, especially planting date, that could contribute to improved and more consistent crop production. Current practice in New Mexico is to direct seed the crop from 13 to 27 Mar. In the first experiment, chile pepper was direct seeded on three planting dates, 13, 20, and 27 Mar. 2000, without or with a fungicide treatment of pentachloronitrobenzene and mefenoxam for the control of damping off. The results indicate planting date had no effect on stand establishment or yield. Fungicide treatment, significantly reduced stand, but had no effect on yield. In the second experiment, chile pepper was direct seeded on six planting dates, 13, 20, 27 Mar. and 3, 10, 17, Apr. 2001, with or without an application of phosphorus fertilizer, P at 29.4 kg·ha-1, banded beneath the seed row. During the growing season, this experimental planting suffered, as did commercial plantings in New Mexico, from high mortality and stunting due to beet curly top virus, a disease transmitted by the beet leafhopper. The results indicate planting date had a significant effect on crop performance. The best stand establishment and highest yield were associated with the earliest planting date, 13 Mar. This date also resulted in the least viral disease damage. Phosphorus fertilizer had no effect on stand establishment or yield. Chemical names used: pentachloronitrobenzene (PCNB); (R)-2-[(2,6-dimethylphenyl)-methoxyacetylamino]-propionic acid methyl ester (mefenoxam).
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