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Brown spots on peppers, before they're fully ripe.. HELP

Nicole Van
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Hey Everyone,
I'm totally new to the gardening world and forums but I am in dire need of help. My bell pepper plants are getting these brown spots that seem to multiply no matter what precautions I take. I tried cutting down on the watering, taking them out of direct sunlight, calcium balance, ect. Nothing works! So here are some pics, if someone can help me stop this from happening I would greatly appreciate the help.
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Fully ripe
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Fully ripe
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Almost done and it has spots
Bryant RedHawk
Posts: 1733
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Hau Nicole, the best thing to do with those infected peppers is to bag them and burn them far away from your gardens to prevent re-infection.

There are several diseases that need be known about, besides the one you are seeing:

What your photos show are perfect examples of Anthracnose, also known as ripe fruit disease.
This nasty disease is potentially caused by three species of the fungus Colletotrichum: C. coccodes, C. capsici, and C. gloeosporioides. 
Although most commonly seen on maturing hot and sweet peppers, under appropriate conditions, (moist air and soil with high heat and no or little air movement) infections can occur on immature fruit, stems, and even leaves. 
Infections appear as sunken lesions on the fruit.  (exactly as in your photos)
The lesions may turn black with the formation of setae and sclerotia, or the center of the lesion may develop pustules (acervuli) that contain a salmon-colored spore mass. 
Colletotrichum typically produces microsclerotia that allows the fungus to overwinter in the soil.
Rotate the crop or in your case with the planters you can heat sterilize the soil in an oven (185 f for 2-4 hours)
[b]Microsclerotia can survive for many years, but even a 2 or 3-year rotation out of susceptible crops (mainly solanaceous) can significantly reduce inoculum.

Other things to know about so you can watch for an outbreak:

Bacterial soft rot:  caused primarily by Erwinia carotovora subsp. carotovora. 
The bacterium is commonly associated with plants, soils and surface water, and is a common contaminant.
BSR is primarily a post-harvest problem except when fruit are injured in the field by insect feeding.

The European corn borer larvae tunnel under the calyx (cap), and their entry holes are marked by sawdust-like frass. 
Insecticide treatments should coincide with peaks in adult activity as determined by pheromone or light traps. 
If you can't live with removing the infected crop then the following insecticides are my recommendation
Permethrin (Ambush), and Spinosad (SpinTor 2SC). 
Hot pepper varieties are most resistant to larval feeding, while green bell peppers are most susceptible.

Phytophthora blight can be one of the most serious diseases affecting pepper as well as eggplants, tomatoes, and the entire cucurbit family. 
Because it affects such a wide range of vegetables, growers have to develop adequate rotational strategies.
Control depends on cultural needs, chemical design and selection of resistant varieties when available. 
Phytophthora blight is caused by the soil borne oomycete Phytophthora capsici. 
The disease can be divided into two distinct phases, a crown rot phase and an aerial blight phase.

            In the crown rot phase of the disease, a black girdling lesion occurs at the soil line. 
In some plants the lower tissue of the wilted plants must be removed to expose the girdling lesion in the cortical tissue beneath the epidermis. 
Most cases of the crown rot phase will occur in July and August in the lower areas of the field and from there the disease can spread to adjoining areas of the field. 
Phytophthora is considered a weather event disease, meaning that heavy rainfall (in excess of 2 inches) leading to saturated soils is critical for infections to occur. 
Generally soil temperatures are > 65°F and air temperatures are in the range of 75-85°F.
The deep south section of the USA can be particularly hard hit, especially this year with the long term rains and high temps we are having a break out.

            The aerial phase of Phytophthora blight occurs later in the season as the spores produced on the lesions of plants infected in the crown rot phase are spread by heavy, wind driven rains. 
These typically occur following a tropical storm or hurricane, or other major weather event.
Infection occurs at the axil (connection) of a branch and stem with a 2-3 inch black, girdling lesion developing on the stem. 
All of the leaves on the branch above the lesion will wilt and eventually the entire plant dies.

Cultivation control measures aim to mitigate the affects of the weather events mentioned above. 
Avoid planting in low-lying areas of the field that are prone to standing water along with stagnant air flows following rain events. 
Raised and dome shaped beds without depressions in the top will allow for speedy movement of moisture away from the crown region of the plants. 
Provide drainage at the end of the space to allow excess water to flow out. 
When crown rot infected plants occur in the field, remove infected plants to avoid production of spores leading to the aerial phase of the disease.

Cornell University plant MD site

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