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R. Gil Ortega, M. Gutierrez and J. Cavero

Pimiento pepper (Capsicum annuum var. annuum L. `Piquillo') was directly seeded on raised beds in double rows 0.35 cm apart. Plants were thinned within the row to establish densities ranging from 13,333 to 186,667 plants/ha. Marketable yield of pepper increased as plant density increased to 100,000 plants/ha. However, with plant densities >100,000 plants/ha, marketable yield did not increase (2001) or slightly decreased (2000). Plant density affected pepper yield only in the first harvest date. Fruit number and fruit weight per plant decreased with increasing plant populations. Weight per fruit decreased slightly at densities >100,000 plants/ha. The increase in yield per hectare as plant density increased was mainly a result of increased number of fruit per hectare. The intercepted PAR by the pepper canopy increased with increases in plant density to about 100,000 plants/ha and this increased interception of PAR resulted in an increase in yield. Plant densities in the range of 100,000 to 120,000 plants/ha were optimal in terms of marketable yield.

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J. Cavero, R. Gil Ortega and M. Gutierrez

Paprika pepper (Capsicum annuum var. annuum L., `Agridulce SIA') was direct-seeded on raised beds in double rows 0.35 cm apart. Plants were thinned within the row to establish densities ranging from 13,333 to >500,000 plants/ha. Yield of paprika pepper increased as plant density increased, but plant densities >200,000 plants/ha resulted in only small increases in yield. Fruit number and dry fruit weight/plant decreased with increasing plant populations, and weight/fruit decreased slightly. The increase in yield/ha as plant density increased was a result of increased numbers of fruits/ha. Pigment content (ASTA units) declined linearly as plant density increased, whereas moisture content of red fruits at harvest remained unaffected. Plant densities in the range of 150,000 to 200,000 plants/ha were optimal in terms of fruit yield and pigment content.

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J. Cavero, R. Gil Ortega and C. Zaragoza

Pepper (Capsicum annuum L. `Piquillo de Lodosa') was seeded and then covered with clear plastic mulch, and various cultural practices to improve seedling emergence were compared. Planting dates (8, 12, and 25 Apr. 1991), seeding systems (raised bed vs. flat, 1991), and one or two rows per bed (1991 and 1992, respectively) were evaluated for their effects on stand establishment and yield. Plant stand was 60% when seed was under plastic mulch, compared to 0% when no mulch was used. Maximum plant stand was obtained 4 weeks after seeding in mulched soil. With plastic mulch, earlier (on or before 12 Apr.) season plantings were best because soil temperatures were so high (≥35C) later as to reduce plant stands. The risk of excessive high temperatures was greater when seeding was on a raised bed rather than flat ground; however, using plastic mulch, temperatures were higher, often resulting in acceptable plant stands regardless of bed arrangement. Higher yields were realized with raised beds compared to flat ground sowing. When two rows per bed were used, higher temperatures on the south side reduced emergence compared to the north side of the east–west-oriented beds. Direct seeding of pepper appears to be commercially acceptable in our Mediterranean conditions, provided seed is under plastic mulch and seeding is completed on or before 12 Apr.