Pepper Problems -- Anyone Know Why?

My peppers have been doing amazing this year. But I’ve noticed as the season passes that they tops/stems are turning yellow on the plant, causing them to drop. I picked this one yesterday. It’s browned a bit overnight, but I think you can see what I mean. Any ideas?

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I think it is usually one of two problems, but there are a few other small possibilities, so you kind of need to go through a mental check list.

The first thing I would think about if it were me, is what the temperatures are doing at this time of year (September). Often temperature swings with cold nights can cause a lot of stress to the Solanaceae family (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes). Peppers love warm climates and the heat of summer. If you are living somewhere where the days are still warm or hot but the night temperatures are getting cold (for tomatoes and peppers this is usually around 55 degrees)… your plants might want a little protection on the colder nights. The fix could be as simple as draping an old sheet over the plants on cold nights, and carefully taking it off again in the morning.

Another thing I would look for is what kind of variety of pollinator attracting plants and pollinators you have in your immediate neighborhood. This might by the more likely culprit in summer. No pollinators, and the flowers are not pollinated and the fruit is not fertilized. If, say, you’re growing your peppers in pots on a balcony in a high-rise… your peppers may not be getting enough pollination. Same would be true if you’re in an apartment and a lot of chemicals are being used by the landscaping crew, keeping down the number of pollinators.

If it’s not either of those, I would look at the overall health of the plant, the color of the leaves, the health and dryness of the soil (maybe just needs more consistent watering or more compost?) and maybe do a soil test, to see if there are nutrients lacking, or if there is some kind of disease or pest affecting the plants. At this time of year, sometimes the lower leaves of pepper plants are showing late blight.

I hope that helps you figure it out.

Go on Google they will tell you every thing

Yes, I thought of Google! Google suggested that it might be TOO much fertilizer, which I didn’t think was the case.

Holly, we’ve definitely had some temperature swings and not as much warm summer as I’d like – or that the peppers need. Interesting that they’re doing pretty well in spite of it, but the yellow caps stumped me. The plants are healthy, well pollinated, and making fruit. Thanks!

What did you do for fertilization?

Some are planted in almost 100% compost. Those do NOT seem to be turning yellow, which made me question over-fertilization. The others are getting side dressings of compost and foliar fish emulsion spray.

Are the ones that fall off immature fruit or already getting to size and ripe? It can be an issue of the plants not getting pollinated right if it is baby fruit that is dropping. More mature ones can drop when the temperatures are too high in the day and too low at night, below about 75.

Nope, they’re full size. Our temperatures have been very erratic, so I’m feeling like this might be the likeliest!