Growing Chillies in Malaysia and other tropical countries are common. In Malaysia about 2,900 hectare of chili was grown anually for fresh consumption especially for Red Chili (Cili Besar). Chili was planted all year round but during monsoon season it will les grown due to flood. Chilies are in the same family as tomatoes and potatoes. They are grown for their fruits, which are usually picked when green. From my observation to many cili farms in Malaysia although they can be left to turn red on the bush, which usually takes about another 2 to 3 weeks. Red chili sold at double or trople proces from green chilies. They are best picked green as leaving them on the plant until red will not improve on the flavour. Chillis will grow in similar conditions to tomatoes although better results are achieved in higher temperatures and humidity. A better crop will be achieved by growing under glass, although they can be cultivated outdoors in sheltered sites with plenty of sun. This article in Anim Agro Technology I would like to share about some tips in growing chili.
Sowing Chilli Seeds is an important activities prior to planting in the farms. The seeds need to be sown in 1 inch pots with 2 to 3 seeds in each and thinly covered in compost. Germination can then take up to 4 to 6 weeks in a temperature of 70F, although the majority of seeds germinate in about the first 2 weeks. As soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle, prick them out into individual 3 inch pots discarding any weak plants and give them a potash liquid feed to maintain growth. The plants will still need a temperature of about 60F, so will need to be kept indoors or a heated greenhouse. After about 12 weeks they should now be large enough to transplant into 10 inch pots which can now be placed in an unheated greenhouse or outdoors, if weather is suitable, about 12 inches apart. Now weather and variety depending, they will grow to about 24 inches high or slightly higher in a greenhouse although they should be encouraged to bush out by pinching out the growing tip when 4 to 6 inches tall. Always keep well watered if grown in pots or growing bags as they tend to dry out fairly quickly, more so than if planted straight into the ground, erratic watering will lead to problems such as blossom end rot or cracking of fruits. Mist plants regularly to keep down pests and encourage fruit set. Once fruit has set a nitrogen liquid feed will be necessary with each watering, also some kind of support may be necessary to attach stems to depending on size.
Harvesting Chillies is the most happy hours for chili farmers. Chillies should be ready for picking after about 5 to 8 months depending on location and temperatures although outdoor growing may need up to another 8 weeks. Cut chillis when they are green, swollen and glossy, any ripe unpicked chillis left on the plant will turn red within 2 to 3 weeks. Picked chillis will stay fresh for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator if kept in a sealed container. When using some of the hotter chillis they are best prepared wearing gloves when removing the seeds and inner pith, as any contact with the skin afterwards will cause burning when you touch your face or other any other delicate parts which is inevitable and washing with water afterwards will not remedy the situation. With a good harvest bag the chillis up and freeze them, or if weather is good enough dry them out in the sun, although I have had good results spreading them out on a baking tray and placing on top of a boiler. In Malaysia fresh chilies are plucked and harvested manually. It will be graded, packed and sent to the supermarket or other marketing outlets. The farm price ranged from as low at RM2.00 per kilogram to RM12.00 perkilogram depending on the weather, supply and demand and also festival. Malaysian government impose control prices for food items during local festival including chilies.
Pest and Diseases are not common in growing chilies espesialy in tropical area such in Malaysia. Aphids (greenfly and blackfly) chillis should be checked regularly for their presence and any infestation should be dealt with by spraying with dimethoate, derris or malathion. If the chillis are ready for picking use derris. Aphis are also the carrier for bacteria disease that scared the farmers. Red spider mite are the common pest in the greenhouse in hot dry conditions, causing leaf discoloration and affecting growing adversely. Spraying weekly with dimethoate and malathion can control the problem as well as creating a damp atmosphere. Third pest are known asa Whitefly with various species of whitefly may attack the chillis causing a black deposit of sooty mould on the leaves. Try controlling with 3 to 4 sprays of pyrethum, permetmrin or pirimiphos-methyl every week. Other pproblem in growing chilies are the attack of Grey mould occurs when an irregular watering may cause brown sunken areas on the chillis which will in turn go soft and mouldy. Always keep chilli plants well spaced, well ventilated and well watered, always removing dead or dying plants leaves or stems. Sometimes the leaves turn yellowing and it normally due to nutrient deficiency, give the plants a liquid feed such as seaweed. Growing chili are interesting for those staying in urban area for own consumption. Thanks.
(12 April 2017)