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Since we don't get frosts, I kept my chillies over winter, replanted them into beds, and most have survived very successfully. I was excited to see them flower early in spring, however the fruits turned a ripe colour much quicker than they did in their first season, and the size of each fruit is only about 1/3 of the size of the summer crop.

Plants

I cut one of the fruit in half (please excuse my blurry picture), and it looks like there is a green 'pea' in the centre, where the seeds should be. The flesh still has some heat, but they taste bitter.

Inside Fruit / <code>Pea</code>

Should I pick and discard the dwarf fruit and hope that a better crop turns out later? It looks like my jalapenos are also turning out tiny, although my other chillies haven't started flowering yet.

Update

After picking off all the miniature chillies, about 2 to 3 weeks later, new flowers fruited and the fruit is again full-sized, albeit taking much longer (5-6 weeks) to fully ripen.

A similar thing happened to my jalapenos - I had tiny jalapenos which turned red within 2 weeks of the fruit first forming.

I would still be interested to know why this happens? Early spring cold snap? Nitrogen in the soil perhaps?

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2  
for sweet peppers, both bitterness and a small size generally mean not enough water. Is that a possibility for you? –  Kate Gregory Oct 6 '12 at 12:56
    
Thanks Kate - actually, we've had a really long, wet winter and spring - I can't believe that a lack of water is to blame? –  StuartLC Oct 6 '12 at 15:48
1  
Yes I've seen a wide variation with climate, of both fruit and leaf size on the same pepper plant. Having lots of fruit on a plant will limit the setting of new fruit, so I would remove them as they ripen. –  winwaed Oct 8 '12 at 0:45
1  
harvesting will stimulate new growth. –  Grady Player Oct 9 '12 at 21:39

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

It looks like incomplete pollination to me. Early spring with its irregular cold snaps can sometimes interfere with pollination, even for plants that are self-fertile. There may be enough seed set to trigger fruit formation, but not enough to warrant the plant putting energy into making a full-size fruit for just a few seeds.

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Thanks - as per recommendations above, I harvested the runt habeneros and within 6 weeks full sized fruit appeared. –  StuartLC Dec 17 '13 at 19:09

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