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Capsicum sunscald (085) Print Fact Sheet

Common Name


Scientific Name

Sunscald is a "physiological" problem. It is not caused by insects, fungi, bacteria or other pathogens.


Worldwide. It occurs wherever capsicum and the other susceptible plants are grown.


Capsicum, large red chilli, eggplant, tomato.

Symptoms & Life Cycle

Sunscald appears on the side of the fruit suddenly exposed to the sun while it is still green. On capsicum, a white, soft, sunken area develops that later dries out and becomes papery (Photos 1&2). On tomato, the damaged area is white, shiny and blistered, becoming sunken and wrinkled (Photo 3). Symptoms occur on fruits of any size, although maturing fruit tend to be more susceptible to damage.

Sudden exposure of the fruits to sunlight occurs if there are not enough leaves to protect the fruit. This can occur in a number of ways:


Sunscald occurs when fruit is suddenly exposed to sunlight, especially when it is hot and humid. Affected fruits are unmarketable, but as the damage is only on one side, other parts can still be used in the home. The damage allows fungi and bacteria to enter the fruit and secondary rots may occur. In general, sunscald is not a major problem, but depends on how the crop is cared for, and environmental conditions. These vary.

Detection & Inspection

Look on the exposed sides of mature fruit for sunken areas that are white and papery on capsicum, or white, shiny patches becoming wrinkled on tomato. Look for signs of black fungal growth on the damaged parts.



No varieties are resistant to sunscald, but there are varieties that have good foliage cover. Select these varieties if sunscald cannot be solved by the cultural controls suggested above.

Pesticides will not cure plants that show symptoms of sunscald as it is a physiological condition. However, they can prevent the loss of leaves from insect pests and diseases, and if leaves are present they will protect the fruits from sunscald.

The choice of insecticide depends on the insects that are present. The most common insect pests in Pacific island countries are Spodoptera caterpillars and aphids. For these use, Bt - Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki, plant-derived products (e.g., neem, derris, pyrethrum and chilli), or synthetic pyrethroids (see Fact Sheets nos. 31 & 38). Mites are also common on capsicum and on tomato if grown under shade (see Fact Sheet no. 49). For mites, abamectin (a compound from a soil bacterium), derris and sulphur are useful too.

The choice of fungicide depends on the type of disease. Use mancozeb or copper products for fungi causing leaf spots, moulds and blights (see Fact Sheets nos. 45, 76 & 81 ).

AUTHORS Suzanne Neave & Grahame Jackson
Information from Cerkauskas R (2004) Sunscald. AVRDC-The World Vegetable Center Fact Sheet. AVRDC Publication 04-583; and from Black LL, Green SK, Hartman GL, Poulos JM (1991) Pepper Diseases: A Field Guide. AVRDC Publication No. 91-347.fhm. 98pp. Photo 2 Missouri botanical Gardens. ( Photo 3 Stephen M Olson Physiological, nutritional and other disorders of tomato fruit. EDIS. University of Florida, IFAS Extension.

Produced with support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research under project PC/2010/090: Strengthening integrated crop management research in the Pacific Islands in support of sustainable intensification of high-value crop production, implemented by the University of Queensland and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

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