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Topping pepper plants with a short season

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Topping pepper plants with a short season

Post  Robbomb116 on 6/14/2017, 2:32 pm

Hello everyone,

I am debating topping some of my pepper plants.  As some of you know,  one was already accidentally topped. That one seems to be doing well.  My concern is my rather short growing season.  My first frost date is in mid September.  I have read that topping peppers can increase yield and leads to busier plants, but that it does delay your first harvest.   That delay of the harvest has me worried.  Off I was further south I'd do it without hesitation.

Has anyone else in the north topped their peppers?
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Re: Topping pepper plants with a short season

Post  CapeCoddess on 6/14/2017, 3:17 pm

I think most of us do, Rob. But I've never had a robust pepper plant, topped or not. It's just too cold here most of the time I think. Camprn has great luck with her's in New Hampshire though, where it's warmer.

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Re: Topping pepper plants with a short season

Post  Robbomb116 on 6/14/2017, 3:26 pm

Seems like you have a little longer of a growing season than me.  But I would venture to guess that my summers are hotter.  Being so far from the ocean to stabilize temperatures, we have really cold winters and really hot summers.
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Re: Topping pepper plants with a short season

Post  Robbomb116 on 6/14/2017, 4:32 pm

And CC, would you believe I would still have time to top mine now with a frost date of Sept 26th?
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Re: Topping pepper plants with a short season

Post  CapeCoddess on 6/14/2017, 5:04 pm

You are correct about being warmer away from the ocean. Why don't you top half of them and see what happens? Then you'll know forever more. If you do this be sure to let us know how it turns out. Love me a fun experiment!
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Re: Topping pepper plants with a short season

Post  Robbomb116 on 6/14/2017, 5:11 pm

Unfortunately any experiment I would try this year would be poorly designed, as I only have 5 pepper plants and all 5 are different varieties.  So there would be a few more variables involved than just being topped or not. 

As a chemist, I wouldn't be able to accept the results from such an experiment.   However, this year I think I shall top them.  As long as I have the time for them to ripen it should work I think.  Perhaps next year I shall experiment more if I get the ok from the wife to build more boxes.... hehe
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Re: Topping pepper plants with a short season

Post  RoOsTeR on 6/14/2017, 7:19 pm

What's your growing season like? The shorter the season the sooner I would get plant starts going indoors and topping then. I typically transplant my peppers outdoors a bit earlier (if you're planting now). Say very end of May or beginning of June, but topped my peppers long before that.
This year was a late, cold May. We had frost and snow till the end of the month. The last snow was measured in feet Rolling Eyes

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Re: Topping pepper plants with a short season

Post  Robbomb116 on 6/14/2017, 7:35 pm

Some have been out for 2 weeks, some for just a week as I bought more from the greenhouse and wanted to harden them off some. I don't have a setup yet to start seed indoors. I tried winter sowing,  and it didn't really work for my heat loving plants.  So my peppers were all purchased or given to me.   The purchased transplants had not been topped off. 

My frost dates are May 20th and September 26th.
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Re: Topping pepper plants with a short season

Post  Scorpio Rising on 6/14/2017, 8:36 pm

First off. Do they have blossoms?

If so,a considerable amount of energy is already involved...not sure how I would be comfortable messing with that.  Blossoms are a big time energy sucker.  Before the actual fruit.  

Second, maybe nip off any later blooms and pick and choose what is gonna bloom.  Get some of the early ones that are already set, but nip off the older maturing stuff....direct the energy to the fruits set?

Third, varieties?  Bananas are quickies, bells little longer....I would look at seed packets and see what the time to harvest is...might let the quickies go and top the longer ones, or maybe just part of the plant...top part and take pics.....
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Re: Topping pepper plants with a short season

Post  CitizenKate on 6/14/2017, 9:13 pm

I've tried both ways, and definitely gotten more peppers and sooner when I topped the plants. Last year, I did not top them, and got only 1 or 2 peppers out of 8 plants. Then in August, I decided to do away with the slackers and cut them down to an inch above soil. I thought they'd just wither away, but they all came back with a vengeance, and by September I had crop of about a dozen.

Go figure.
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Re: Topping pepper plants with a short season

Post  sanderson on 6/15/2017, 2:53 am

This year I am not topping. Due to the weather, they were set out late. I'll find out if that was a big mistake or not.

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Re: Topping pepper plants with a short season

Post  Ginger Blue on 6/15/2017, 9:16 am

My pepper plants are still tiny, 2" or less, and I also have a short growing season.  At what height do they become candidates for topping and what's the average recovery time?
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Re: Topping pepper plants with a short season

Post  Robbomb116 on 6/15/2017, 9:21 am

I decided to go for it.  From watching a handful of video instructions, my plants were at the perfect stage to top, so I did. They were all just forming that "y" with the flower buds.  Here are the "after pictures" of the 3 I just topped.  The other 2 plants were topped by my friend who gave them to me. The reallt small one was purchased later than the rest and not really hardened off cause I felt rushed to get them going. It was also purchased from a 4 pack and was rather root bound.  I have noticed good growth on it, but given the size and everything, not expect g much from it.  But figured it was worth the $0.60 to try it.


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Re: Topping pepper plants with a short season

Post  Scorpio Rising on 6/15/2017, 6:35 pm

I will be interested in your experience Rob.  I had a purple bell get "topped" by a rabbit one year, first year.  It never produced anything but the blossom that fruited from Walmart...grrr.  Really pretty too.  Hmmm....adding to list.....
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Re: Topping pepper plants with a short season

Post  SwampTroll on 6/15/2017, 8:56 pm

I also have a shorter growing season and a variety of peppers (purple beauty, jalapeno and poblano).

I've decided to top them all.   This will be my first experience with topping peppers, so it was an experiment as well.

Perhaps while not the most scientific, if we compare notes as they grow then we may have some more stable datum to work with for the future.

I'll have to get some cages for them, as they are getting buffeted by the wind this year.
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Re: Topping pepper plants with a short season

Post  RoOsTeR on 6/15/2017, 9:05 pm


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Re: Topping pepper plants with a short season

Post  camprn on 6/16/2017, 3:05 pm

I always pinch my pepper plants

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Re: Topping pepper plants with a short season

Post  sanderson on 6/18/2017, 2:58 pm

I'm sorry, Camp. It just struck me as funny and I wondered if they ever pinched back. Razz It's the heat wave getting to me.

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