Harvesting and post-harvest handling of capsicum and chilli

How long does a capsicum crop take to mature?

Capsicum and chilli remain in the seedling stage for 4-8 weeks, depending on the temperature and the size of the cell in which they grow. The transplanting to green harvest stage takes 10-12 weeks and you can then add another 2-3 weeks for harvesting red fruit.

What yield can I expect?

The average yield for capsicum is about 4000-5000 cartons per hectare. Capsicum yields are usually lower if fruit is left on the plant to colour. Chilli is harvested over a longer period, up to about nine months, and average yields are 6000-7000 3-kg cartons per hectare.

When is the fruit ready to pick?

The first mature green fruit should be ready about 10-12 weeks after transplanting. Mature green fruit will be firm, thick-walled and bright green. Fruit usually takes a further 2-3 weeks to reach the fully mature colour. For red and green capsicums, the market wants either full green or full red fruit - intermediate colours ranging from stripes of red to chocolate are not wanted.

How many picks do I take?

Although some varieties are harvested between one and four times, most varieties may be harvested six or more times.

Does capsicum and chilli need to be cooled after harvest?

Yes. You should reduce the temperature as quickly as possible to between 7 and 10°C.

Can I ripen the fruit in a gas room?

No. Colour development is very poor if you try to ripen fruit using ethylene.

Last updated 01 November 2010