Sowing & selling chillies

Considering a chili crop? Two of the biggest aspects to consider before buying your first chilli plants are sowing and selling.

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Before selling chillies
As an aspiring chilli grower, you need to understand that unless you’re planting under contract, the price is likely to vary substantially. So it is wise to be in for the long haul, taking the good with the bad and doing sufficient homework before committing. Prices tend to be better through the winter months as production is restricted to frost-free areas.

In the Mpumalanga lowveld, for instance, farmers have been known to plant chillies in rows between their pawpaw trees. Some of these became huge plants and were a secondary crop that was not given special attention. When prices were low, these plants would be left and only harvested again when prices justified it.

Sowing considerations

It’s best to treat chilli plants as cavity seedlings, instead of sowing them in seedbeds and then transplanting them. While growing in the seedling trays, they are protected from eelworm and various soil pathogens. The six to eight weeks the plants spend in the seedling tray are quite tricky to manage and this is best left to professionals.The spacing will vary depending on variety and climatic conditions.

Some varieties can grow taller than 1,5m, especially in warm areas where there is a long growing season and rapid growth. In some of these areas the crop can go into the following season. With open pollinated varieties it will do no harm to err on the close side, but this would be an unnecessary expense when hybrids are grown. The best approach to spacing is to discuss it with the seed supplier at your nursery. Also consider harvest time and your implements when planning the spacing – the “tram line” system works very well for most. 

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