Days to Maturity
The date given on seed packets as the ‘days to maturity’ is a rough estimate of when you can expect to harvest your peppers. The days to maturity refers to the time that the pepper seeds are planted until the day the peppers are ready to be harvested. This number will vary depending on the variety chosen. The number will also vary depending on seasonal changes such as temperature, exposure to sun, irrigation, soil fertility, and many other factors.
A better way to decide when to harvest your vegetables is to pay attention to specific characteristics of ripeness.
Days to Maturity: 100-120 days from seed/70-85 from transplants
How Do I Know When Bell Peppers Are Ready to Harvest?
Interestingly, bell peppers have two options when it comes to deciding when to harvest. They can be harvested prior to ripening or when they have fully ripened.
Green bell peppers are peppers that are not yet fully ripe. These can be picked at any stage during development but are best when about 3-4” long and firm.
Once they ripen, they will turn the color of the variety chosen, such as red, yellow, or orange and can be harvested at any time.
How to Harvest Bell Peppers
Pepper plants are fragile, so snapping ripe pepper stems from the plant should be avoided. Use a sharp knife to cut the stems from the plant leaving a few inches of stem intact on the fruit. Make sure to use gardening tools that are disinfected to avoid spreading viruses or other pathogens from infected plants to non-infected plants.
End of Season Harvesting
Bell peppers will not survive frost so be sure to harvest all peppers when the weather threatens frost. If they can’t be used within a week, prepare for storage by freezing, drying, or canning.
“Bell Peppers.” University of Maine: Cooperative Extension Publications. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Mar. 2014. <http://umaine.edu/publications/4181e/>.
“Peppers.” Arizona State University: AZ Master Gardener Manual. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Mar. 2014. <http://ag.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/mg/vegetable/peppers.html>.