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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Cotton Ginning Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #326151

Research Project: Enhancing the Quality, Utility, Sustainability and Environmental Impact of Western and Long-Staple Cotton through Improvements in Harvesting, Processing, and Utilization

Location: Cotton Ginning Research

Title: Comparison of six green chile (capsicum annum) cultivars for efficiency of Etgar® machine harvest

item CALSOYAS, ISRAEL - New Mexico State University
item WALKER, STEPHANIE - New Mexico State University
item Funk, Paul
item STEINER, ROBERT - New Mexico State University

Submitted to: New Mexico Chile Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/23/2016
Publication Date: 2/23/2016
Citation: Calsoyas, I., Walker, S., Funk, P.A., Steiner, R. 2016. Comparison of six green chile (capsicum annum) cultivars for efficiency of Etgar® machine harvest. New Mexico Chile Conference. Proceedings.

Interpretive Summary: Specialty crop mechanization requires changing the entire cropping system including cultivar selective breeding, production processes, harvest mechanisms, and processing plant equipment. This study looked at the compatibility of five promising parent lines being used to produce chile pepper cultivars for mechanical harvest, measured in terms of marketable yield. An important finding was that the angle and proximity to ground level of the first fruiting branches played a key role in determining how much of the crop could be gathered by machine.

Technical Abstract: As U.S. demand for fresh market green chile rises green chile acreage in the U.S. is declining due to limited availability and high cost of hand labor to harvest it. Many farmers are opting to grow crops other than green chile. Green chile is a New Mexican pod-type chile that is harvested when the fruit are physiologically immature but full size. Once harvested, green chile is processed into a canned or frozen product, or sold fresh directly to consumers. Green chile production is important as an agricultural commodity, bringing $40 million directly to New Mexico, and $400 million in indirect economic benefit. It also is part of our state’s rich cultural heritage and culinary tradition. In 1965 the first chile machine harvest took place in New Mexico. Over time the number of harvester models and trials grew. The double open-helix harvest mechanism has been found to work well in chile. Prior research has shown that plant habit affects machine harvest efficiency; for efficient machine harvest direct-seeded plant architecture should be upright with few basal branches, narrow branch angles, flexible stems, and pendant fruit. Well rooted plants should have minimal crown set and be 60 to 80 cm tall. The purpose of this experiment was to evaluate six green chile cultivars based on harvest efficiency with an Etgar® double open-helix picker. Five replicates of six cultivars of chile were direct seeded 17 April at the New Mexico State University (NMSU) Ag Science Center in Los Lunas, NM and grown following standard production practices. Plants were harvested 01 September 2015. Responses quantified were green yield, red yield, immature yield, broken yield, cull, sticks and leaves, and plant and ground loss, all in kg per plot. The number of plants uprooted during harvest was also recorded. Preliminary results indicated cultivars 101W15 and 97W15 were statistically similar, returning the highest green yield. Cultivar 98W15 had the lowest green yield when machine harvested. High yielding cultivar 101W15 had significantly greater height than the others, supporting previous research linking the two traits. Low yielding cultivars 98W15 and 102W15 had statistically significant greater numbers of basal branches, while high yielding cultivar 97W15 had fewer. The correlation between fewer basal branches and higher mechanical harvest yields is consistent with earlier research findings.