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I have been growing peppers this summer and they have been doing great. The fruit is really starting to take off, but now I have 3 or 4 of my larger fruit getting these brown spots. This is a Red Marconi pepper. Can anyone give me any guidance on what to do to alleviate this problem. I have done some research and found that it might be some type of fruit rot, but I am not sure what to do help it if it is. I am concerned this could spread to my Bhut Jolokia or Red Thai which are next to these if it is some sort of disease.

These plants are being grown in a pot and I have been feeding them some miracle grow for vegetables maybe once every 2 weeks. The pot is not over watered.

Brown Spot 1

Brown Spot 2

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I would have said Blossom End Rot because that seems to be the most rot along these lines., and especially as you have it on a few of the larger fruit. It is caused by a Calcium deficiency. Check your MiracleGro - it is probably almost all NPK but might have Calcium in smaller quantities. Is that enough? I don't know.

Usually the problem occurs more due to a mobility problem with the Calcium when watering is erratic - yes the plant might get water, but it might go a couple of days without water and then get it all at once. I have seen this and is probably hard to avoid with modern drought restrictions.

Ohio State have a Blossom End Rot Fact Sheet that is worth reading. As well as lack of Ca in the soil, and erratic watering, they mention "competitive cations". What they mean is the pepper plant is absorbing similar ions to Calcium instead of Calcium - and then has a lack of calcium in the fruit. They mention ammonium specifically, but magnesium is probably a candidate (it is common, and is chemically very similar). Check your MiracleGro - if it is ammonium based, them this could be your cause. OSU's recommendations are:

  1. Maintain the soil pH around 6.5. Liming will supply calcium and will increase the ratio of calcium ions to other competitive ions in the soil.

  2. Use nitrate nitrogen as the fertilizer nitrogen source. Ammoniacal nitrogen may increase blossom-end rot as excess ammonium ions reduce calcium uptake. Avoid over-fertilization as side dressings during early fruiting, especially with ammoniacal forms of nitrogen.

  3. Avoid drought stress and wide fluctuations in soil moisture by using mulches and/or irrigation. Plants generally need about one inch of moisture per week from rain or irrigation for proper growth and development.

  4. Foliar applications of calcium, which are often advocated, are of little value because of poor absorption and movement to fruit where it is needed.

When I've seen it, watering has been the main issue during drought conditions. Rot has not been too widespread. Pick the fruit before the rot gets too big. You can still eat it - just cut the rot off. If you wait too long, the rot will spread (secondary infections have taken over) and there's nothing worth saving.

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Yes, look at the leaf droop in the first picture - they look underwatered. Someone seeing this "rot" for the first time would think it a symptom of overwatering, and go the wrong way - @Mike's last line "The pot is not overwatered" makes me think he may have fallen for that. –  Ed Staub Jul 19 '12 at 13:00
    
Great post. Thank you so much for the information. I think one of the problems is that the pot they are in is getting too small, so the peppers use all the water in there too fast for me to get them more water. I will look at the miracle grow I am using and see if it has enough of the nutrients you recommend. Again thanks for a great post. –  Mike Jul 19 '12 at 14:58
    
Great question/answer. I was having the same problems with mine; watering being erratic lines up exactly with us. Hard to deal with when its 100+ outside and our water district only allows 2 days a week of automatic watering. –  Kellenjb Jul 21 '12 at 18:23
    
So I finally got around to making some of these changes. I added calcium and a 5-10-5 fertilizer along with transplanting them to a bigger pot. I will update again when I see any changes. One followup question too. Should I remove the ones that are showing the spots or let them be? –  Mike Jul 24 '12 at 17:53
    
I would probably remove them. The rot is only going to get bigger, so you might as well salvage half a pepper. Also mature fruit on a plant will tend to subdue the formation of more fruit. –  winwaed Jul 25 '12 at 19:11

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