Their Peppers Hot--Others, Not
January 31, 2002
The American consumers
increased appetite for various ethnic foods has contributed to the development
of tomato-based, salsa-type products with varying degrees of pungency or
Peppers of the genus Capiscum--from the Greek kapto, meaning
to bite--contain a class of compounds, capsacinoids, that add heat
to salsas. To adjust pungency and maintain it at a desired level, food
processors add extracted capsaicin in controlled amounts during processing.
Now, nonpungent, capsaicin-free peppers have been bred to impart appropriate
flavor without adding heat. These new peppers provide the jalapeno taste in
salsa products that are advertised as chunky. But little is known
about cultural conditions that affect marketable yield of the new peppers,
which have largely replaced pungent varieties in processed products.
So, Agricultural Research Service plant physiologist Vincent M. Russo at the
ARS South Central Agricultural Research
Laboratory in Lane, Okla., conducted studies to determine if the planting
date and increased plant density affected yield of nonpungent jalapenos.
Greenhouse-grown seedlings of the nonpungent jalapeno peppers Pace 103, Pace
105, Pace 106, TAM Sweet2 and Dulce--along with the pungent peppers TAM
Jalapeno1 and Delicias for comparison--were transplanted in mid-April and
mid-June of 2000 and 2001. Either one or two seedlings were placed in each
planting site. One plant is the norm since two plants at a site may create
competition that may reduce yields. Fruits were harvested one time from all
plants when about 5 percent of the fruits were red.
In both years, more fruit were produced and higher yields obtained with two
plants per site, indicating that competition was not a problem. Some of the
cultivars that produced fewer, larger fruit had yields as good as or better
than other peppers tested. Yields from plants transplanted in mid-June were
about one-half those established during other planting windows.
According to Russo, it appears most of the cultivars can be transplanted at
several times during the growing season and still give producers profitable
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agricultures chief scientific research agency.