Taxonomists have only recently begun to agree regarding classification
of the domesticated species of Capsicum. Although five species are described, only two, C.
annuum and C. frutescens
have any significance commercially in the U.S.A. Early species separation on
the basis of fruit shape, color and position are of little taxonomic value. Flower and seed
color, shape of the calyx, the number of flowers per node and their orientation, are the primary
A simple key to identifying the five domesticated species of Capsicum may
be found on page 1996 of "Peppers of the World--an Identification Guide" by Dave DeWitt
and Paul W. Bosland, Ten Speed Press, PO Box 7123, Berkeley, CA 97407.
C. annuum is the most important domesticated species in the U.S.A.
and is the species to which
all bell peppers, and all the peppers listed below belong (unless specified
otherwise.) The only C. frutescens pepper of any significance is Tabasco. The Tabasco pepper is
difficult to cross with C. annuum types. Hot peppers may belong to any of above species and others. The
C. chinense varieties Habanero and Scotch Bonnet are considered the hottest.
The interest in peppers extends to their nutritive and medicinal value
in that peppers are a
recognized source of Vitamins C and E and are high in antioxidants. These
compounds are associated with prevention of cardiovascular disorders, cancers, and
Peppers are a warm-season crop and need a long season for maximum
has a large effect on the rate of plant and fruit growth and the development
and quality of the red
or yellow pigments. Ideal temperature for red pigment development is between
65 and 75 F.
Above this range the red color becomes yellowish, and below it color
development slows dramatically and stops completely below 55 F.
Many excellent pepper varieties are available. Test several and select
the ones that do well under your production system, and meets your market needs.
Pacific Northwest pepper growers may improve their chances for successful pepper production by using raised beds ( to improve drainage),
by using plastic mulches (to warm the soil and control weeds), and drip irrigation (to promote uniform moisture and fertilizer delivery), and by
staking plants (to reduce plant breakage and disease -- improves air movement). These practices are especially important when the goal is
to produce colored peppers (red, yellow, orange etc.) which have greater quality requirements and higher values, and take longer to mature
(see appropriate sections below).
BELL PEPPER VARIETIES (approximately 60-70 days to first harvest from
Bell (green): Bell King, North Star,
Lady Bell, Jupiter, Park's Early Thickset, Bell Tower, Bell Captain,
Mayata, Melody, Ace Hybrid, Cardinal, Summersweet. Research in the Hermiston area
indicates that Jupiter, Bell Tower, Belmont, Galaxy, and Skipper performed well. For trial:
Camelot, Merlin, Skipper, Yankee Bell, Cubico, Abbott & Cobb 840, 850, 860,870, 880, 890;
Admiral, Allidian, Acapulco, Elisa, Figaro, Gypsy, King Arthur, Mandarin, Predi, Sterling, Stiletto (resistant to tomato
spotted wilt virus).
Note: In 1992, Yankee Bell produced the highest
proportion of 4-lobed, blocky peppers. Their plant growth is
more open; not as many peppers were misshapen due to growing among
branches and being confined between other fruit.
Bell (Red): Many green bell peppers turn red when fully mature.
However, the early, large-fruited,
thick-walled varieties demanded by the market are rare. Temperatures during
coloring play a major role in the uniformity and rate of color development.
Cool fall temperatures may slow, or may completely stop color development.
Select varieties that transition from green to red quickly, with little or no
transitional purple stage.
Research at O.S.U. and from British
Columbia indicates that Lady Bell, La Bamba, Four Corners, Merlin, Ace Hybrid,
Bellboy, and Cardinal performed well. Four Corners and Merlin also had thick-walls. For
trial: Melody, North Star, Vidi and Predi. In 1994,
Yankee Bell and Peto Wonder were noted to have some chocolate-colored fruit
as fruit turned from green to red.
Bell (yellow): Golden Belle, Golden Cal Wonder, and Astro (all are
bright yellow), Klondike Bell (early,
high yield, has an orange tinge), Honey Bell, Orobelle
For trial: Marengo (Lamuyo type) and
Summer Sweet (both turn yellow or orange- yellow quickly).
Bell (orange): Corona (performed best in OSU trials in '92),
Valencia (in '94), Oriole (best in
trials in British Columbia), Ori. For trial: Ariane.
Purple, chocolate, and white bell peppers (see list below).
These are intermediate colors lasting 7-10 days then turning red.
Note: Many of the red, yellow and orange peppers found in the market
are greenhouse-grown from varieties specially developed for greenhouse production.
Bell pepper for greenhouse production
Green or red fruit
for specialty markets (for
trial only): Cubico, Plutona.
Yellow fruit: Golden
Belle, Marengo, Orobelle.
Orange fruit: Ariane, Valencia.
ETHEPHON FOR COLORED PEPPERS
When colored peppers are desired, a foliar spray of ethephon (Ethrel)
may be used to promote early, uniform ripening and coloring, or to ripen the
partially ripe fruit remaining at the end of the harvest season. The
effectiveness of Ethephon is highly dependent on ambient temperature. Check
the Ethephon label for complete instructions and regulations.
Plant size and the cover provided the fruit is important in reducing
risk from sunburn. This risk may also be reduced by selecting plant
population density and row spacings that allow for good fruit cover.
HOT PEPPERS AND PUNGENCY RATINGS
The most common sensory method to determine pungency in peppers has been
test (Scoville, a dilution-taste procedure) with results expressed as Scoville
Heat Units (SHU).
The validity and accuracy of it have been widely criticized. The American
Spice Trade Association and the International Organization for Standardization have
adopted a modified
version. The American Society for Testing and Materials is considering other
(the Gillett method) and a number of chemical tests to assay for capsaicinoids
involved in pungency (see Chile Pungency. Still, the values obtained by the various tests are often
related to Scoville Heat Units. For more information on chile peppers, see The Chile Pepper
A "National Fiery Foods Show" is held annually in Albuquerque, NM. For
more information call 505/873-2187.
Category, type of fruit attachment and pungency range:
Variety name Color Stages Pungency Remarks
Bell, 3.5"X4.5", fruit pendant, pungency 0-100 Scoville Heat Units
Bell King green to red sweet early
Bell Captain green to red sweet thick walls
Bell Tower green to red sweet smooth
Bellboy green to red sweet thick wall
Bellestar green to red sweet smooth
Bonanza green to red sweet vigorous
Calif. Wonder 300 green to red sweet late, thick
Cardinal green to red sweet thick wall
Cubico green to red sweet
Four Corners green to red sweet good shape
Jupiter green to red sweet large, mid
Lady Bell green to red sweet early
Mayata green to red sweet v.lg. fruit
Midway green to red sweet early
Mission Belle green to red sweet v. smooth
Parks Early Thickset green to red sweet early
Parks Whopper green to red sweet med.
Pip green to red sweet large
Predi green to red sweet lg. 4-lobe stuffer
Ringer green to red sweet large, mid
Skipper green to red sweet smooth
Sweet Belle green to red sweet mid
Goldie yellow to red sweet early
Gypsy yellow to red sweet early
Yellow Belle yellow to red sweet early
Admiral green to yellow sweet blocky
Early Bountiful green to yellow sweet
Golden Summer green to yellow sweet thick wall
Golden Cal. Wonder green to yellow sweet thick wall
Golden Bell green to yellow sweet early
Inia green to yellow sweet thick wall
Klondike Bell green to yellow sweet early, thick wall
Orobelle green to yellow sweet thick wall
Summer Sweet 820 green to yellow sweet
Golden Crest gr to orng-yellow sweet
Quadrato d'Oro gr to orng-yellow sweet
Ariane green to orange sweet large, thick
Corona green to orange sweet large, thick
Kerala green to orange sweet large, thick
Oriole green to orange sweet large, thick
Salsa RZ green to orange sweet large, thick
Super Stuff yellow to orange sweet early
Valencia yellow to orange sweet early, thick
Wonderbelle yellow to orange sweet
Lorelei purple then red sweet small
Purple Beauty purple then red sweet small
Purple Belle purple then red sweet small
Violetta purple then red sweet small
Blue Jay gr-lavender to red sweet
Islander gr-lavender to red sweet
Lilac gr-lavender to red sweet
Chocolate Bell gr to chocolate sweet large fruit
Mulato gr to chocolate sweet
Sweet Chocolate gr to chocolate sweet small fruit
Albino gr to white to red sweet small
Dove gr to white to red sweet small
Ivory gr to white to red sweet
Elongated Bell; (lamuyo type fruit) 3.5"x5"; pendant, pungency 0-100
Blue Star green to red sweet large, late
Elisa green to red sweet mid
Marengo green to yellow sweet
Melody green to red sweet early
Signet green to yellow sweet early
Anaheim; fruit 2"x7"; pendant, pungency 500-3,500 SHU (most 500-1000
Anaheim TMR light green to red mild
Anaheim M light green to red warm
Coronado light green to red warm
New Mexico 64L light green to red mild
NuMex Conquistador light green to red sweet for paprika
Volcano light green to red hot
Poblano/ancho; fruit heart-shaped 3"-4" x 4"-7"; pendant, 1,000-2,000
The poblano pepper is a major type grown in Mexico, used green, red or
dried (called ancho when dried). It is commonly used for chiles
Ancho 101 dark green to red mild thick wall
Esmeralda dark green to red mild thick wall
New Mexican dark green to red mild thick wall
Poblano dark green to red warm thick wall
Verdano dark green to red warm thick wall
Elongated, tapered; fruit variable shapes and sizes; pendant, 0-1000
Banana Supreme green to yellow sweet early
Canape green to yellow sweet early
Cuban yel-grn:red orange warm
Cubanelle yel-grn:red orange mild long fruit
Hungarian Wax grnish yel:yellow warm
Sweet Banana grnish yel:yellow sweet
Cherry; about 1" diameter; upright, 100-5,000 SHU:
Cascabel green to red hot
Large Red Cherry green to red warm
Sweet Cherry green to red warm
Cayenne; fruit 0.5"x3"; pendant, 30,000-50,000 SHU. A favorite in
Creole and Cajun cooking:
Large Red Thick green to bright red fiery slender
Long Slim green to bright red fiery slender
Carolina Cayenne green to bright red fiery
Charlston Hot grn to orange to red fiery to 4" long
Super Cayenne grn to bright red fiery long slender
Jalapeño; fruit 1.5"x3"; pendant, 2,500-5000 SHU. The most common
hot chili grown in the U.S.A.:
Jalapa green to red hot blunt cylind.
Jalapeño M green to red very hot thick wall
Jalapeño Hot green to red hot smooth
Mitla hybrid green to red hot thick, blunt cyl.
Tam Jalapeño #1 green to red hot thick wall
Pepperoncini; fruit 1"x2"; pendant, 200-500 SHU:
Pepperoncini pale grn to yel mild twisted, wrinkled
Pepperoncini Italian pale grn to yel mild
Pepperoncini Greek Golden yellow mild
Pepperoncini is used primarily for pickling and is harvested at the green to yellow
stage, before full maturity. Information from trials in Louisiana (Louisiana Coop.
Ext. Service Publ. 2433) suggests 12 to 18-inch spacing between plants, 70 days
planting to harvest. It is harvested with stems attached and has a harvest interval
of 2-3 days. Yields are 4,000 to 6,000 lb/acre. A skilled worker can harvest
25-30 lb/hour. Over a 60-90 day harvest period, the labor requirement to harvest an
acre would be about 240 hours.
Pimento; fruit 1.5"x2.5"; pendant, 0-100 SHU:
Pimento L green to red sweet thick wall
Serrano; fruit 0.5"x2.25"; pendant, 5,000-10,000 SHU:
Serrano types dark green to red very hot small
Tabasco C. frutescens; fruit 0.25"x 1.25";pendant, 30,000-50,000 SHU:
Tabasco yel-orange to red fiery small
Habanero (C. chinense) a fiery-hot, box-shaped small pepper
turning from green to orange, red, yellow or white when ripe.
Although the Habanero pepper has been listed as being the hottest of
all peppers, some rated at 200,000 to 300,000 SHU, not all Habaneros
are hot! Hot Habanero peppers are used to make hot bottled sauces.
They are grown mainly in Central America and Yucatan. Other extremely
hot C. chinense peppers include Scotch Bonnet (yellow), and
Marbles (prolific round, mix of green, yellow and red fruit)
Riot (prolific upright long fruit, mix of green, yellow and red).
Peppers grow best on well-drained, moderately fertile soils. Use a soil
test to determine fertilizer
and liming requirements. Peppers grow best at soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0.
Adjust soil pH to near neutral (7.0) for maximum
To reduce risk from Verticillium wilt and other diseases avoid
using fields in your rotation plans
in which eggplant, tomato, pepper, potato, strawberry or caneberries have been
SEED AND SEED TREATMENT
Pepper seed numbers approximately 72,000 per pound. Bell peppers are
not normally direct
seeded and this practice is not recommended for Western Oregon. Use high
quality, fungicide treated seed in the production of
transplants. Some seed
companies now offer "vigorized' or "conditioned" seed which has better
germination under cool
soil conditions. Peppers are sensitive to damping-off.
In direct-seeded plantings a pop-up fertilizer solution may be helpful.
Spray directly on the seed a
solution of 2-6-0 at 1 pint per 100 lineal feet of row (use 1/2 this rate on
sandy soils). A 2-6-0
solution is equivalent to 1 part of 10-34-0 liquid fertilizer diluted with 4
parts of water.
Pepper is a warm-temperature vegetable and requires a long growing
season. Transplants which
are grown should be kept close to the following temperatures: Days:65-85 F.
Nights: 60-65 F.
Temperatures above 95 F may result in flower bud drop. Highest yields are
obtained when soil
temperatures remain in the 70-75 F range. Soil temperatures below 68 F may
result in substantial yield reductions.
The use of clear plastic mulch applied over herbicide treated soil, or
black plastic mulch, or the new IRT (wavelength-selective) mulch is strongly recommended.
A few peppers are grown in greenhouses. The varieties Bellboy, Blue
Star and Mogador are
reported to tolerate cool temperatures that sometimes occur in off-season
TRANSPLANT PRODUCTION AND TRANSPLANTING
It takes between 3 and 4 ounces of seed to produce enough plants for an
acre. Seeds should be
planted in a heated greenhouse 6 to 8 weeks before the field transplanting
date. When growing
transplants in unheated greenhouses, cold frames or field transplant beds, 8
to 14 weeks may be
necessary. Seedlings are transplanted to other flats when the first true
leaves are l.5 inches long and
spaced 2 to 2.5 inches apart in the greenhouse or plant bed. At all times
handle pepper seedlings
with care because they are easily broken or damaged. Harden transplants for
about a week before
transplanting to the field by reducing moisture and maintaining a temperature
of 55 to 65 F. This
will give resistance to wilting and sunscald.
Transplant spacing and exposure to light and temperature have a major
effect on transplant vegetative growth and quality. Avoid crowding, provide
adequate light, and use minimal night temperatures to reduce risk of spindly
Apply a starter fertilizer solution to the transplants when
transplanting to the field. Select starter
fertilizers that have the highest level of phosphorus available, such as
10-52-17, 11-48-0, 11-55-0
dry fertilizers or 10-34-0 liquid fertilizer. Make up a stock solution of 3
lbs of the dry, such as
10-52-17, or 2 pints of liquid 10-34-0 per 50 gallons of water. Use 1/2 pint
of of this stock
solution per plant, applying the solution directly to the plant roots when
setting in the field. You
will need about 13 fifty-gallon batches to transplant an acre.
Depth of transplanting has normally been to the top of the roots or root
ball. Research from
Florida with the variety Jupiter suggests that pepper transplants may benefit
from being set
deeper, up to the first true leaf. Thirty days after transplanting, plants
planted to the first true leaf
had more leaves, greater plant dry weight, more blooms and less lodging than
to the cotyledons or to the top of the root ball. Other data from
Pennsylvania suggest caution
however. Soil temperature and moisture would be important considerations.
Greenhouse peppers are sown October through February for harvest of red
fruit approximately 5 months later, March through July.
Space rows, or pairs of rows about 18-36 inches apart. Plants should be
12-l8 inches apart in the row
and between pairs of rows, depending on method of transplanting and
These spacings represent a plant population of from 10,000 to 29,000 per
Where sunscald may be a problem, the risk of sunscald can be reduced by
using paired rows and closer spacings between rows and plants.
Leave roadways across the field at about 150 foot intervals to
facilitate carrying pails of peppers
to collection locations if a harvester aid and bulk loading is not used.
When using plastic mulch, plant 2 rows of peppers per mulch strip, using
36 inch-wide plastic.
Space plastic strips 5-6 feet apart. Use drip irrigation tubing under the
plastic mulch between the
two pepper rows, with drip emitters at 9-inch spacing down the row.
In greenhouse production, allow 3.0 to 3.5 square feet/plant. Plants
are pruned to a 2-stem
training system. After 10-12 leaves have developed, the plant forks, and a
flower develops at the
fork. Two or three branches are produced, of which the two strongest are
chosen for further
production. These must be supported by a string or post, and all subsequent
after the 2nd leaf. Restrict fruit set on the two stems until at least 3 or 4
leaf axils have formed or
stem growth and subsequent fruit set will be greatly reduced.
A soil test is the most accurate guide to fertilizer requirements. The
following recommendations are general guidelines for loamy soils or when organic matter exceeds 2.5 %:
Nitrogen: 100-150 lb N/acre. The use of ammonium N sources may aggravate
blossom-end rot by interfering with calcium uptake.
Sidedress with 35-50 lb N/acre after the first flowers are set. Where
mulching and trickle
irrigation are practiced, additional nitrogen can be fed through the trickle
irrigation system at l5
lb/acre when the first fruit begins to set and an additional l5 lb/acre four
weeks after. To prevent
clogging or plugging from occurring, use soluble forms of N (urea or
and chlorinate the system once a month with a l0 to 50 ppm chlorine solution.
Chlorinate more frequently if the flow rate decreases.
Phosphate: 100-150 (P2O5) lb/acre
Potash: 100-200 (K2O) lb/acre depending on soil test. When K is
adequate, excess K has been
reported (Florida '94) to reduce wall thickness without increasing yield.
Sulfur: 30-35 (S) lb/acre
pH: Add lime if below 6.0
GROUND MULCHES AND ROW COVERS
The use of clear plastic mulch applied over herbicide-treated soil, or
black plastic ground mulch, is
recommended. The use of ground mulch increases soil temperature, conserves
soil moisture, and
controls weeds, increasing yields and is strongly recommended especially for
western Oregon. For black plastic mulch to increase soil temperature, it is
critical that the soil surface be smooth and that the plastic be in close
contact with the soil. This can only be achieved by laying the plastic with a
machine designed and properly adjusted for this task. Clear plastic mulch is
superior for heat transfer but does not control weeds without herbicide application.
A new generation of plastic mulch films allows for good weed
control together with soil warming that is intermediate between black plastic and clear film.
These films are called IRT (infrared-transmitting) or wavelength-selective films. They are more
expensive than black or clear films, but may be cost-effective where soil warming is important. (See
also section on spacing).
Plastic, spunbonded, and non-woven materials have been developed as crop covers for use as
windbreaks, for frost protection, and to enhance yield and earliness. They complement the use of
plastic mulch and drip irrigation in many crops. Some sources of these materials and information on their
American AgriFabrics, Alpharetta, GA. Phone 770-663-700, fax: 770-663-7690, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ken-Bar, Inc., Reading, MA. Phone: 800-336-8882, fax: 781-944-1055, email: email@example.com.
Non-woven or spunbonded polyester and perforated polyethylene row covers
may be used for 4 to 6 weeks
immediately after transplanting depending on temperature. Research in
Illinois with the varieties
"Lady Bell" and "Bell Boy", over a three year period, indicates that covers
should be removed
after 650-675 heat units (using a base temperature of 50 F) have been
accumulated. Heat units
should be based on temperatures recorded outside the covers but nearby and
calculated as: the
sum of ((daily high+daily low)/2)-50 F, with negative values counted as zero.
Row covers increase heat unit accumulation by 2 to 3 times over ambient.
Two to four degrees
of frost protection may also be obtained at night. Soil temperatures and root
growth are also
increased under row covers as are early yields, and in some cases total
yields. Research from
Connecticut indicates that the use of row cover and plastic mulch is
particularly cost effective
when growing red, yellow or orange bell peppers for the fresh market.
Gibberellic acid (GA) is labelled for promotion of pepper plant growth in all states but California.
The label calls for application of 1 or 2 sprays of 1-3 g ai/acre in 25-50 gal/acre at 2-week intervals.
Sprays should begin about 2 weeks after transplanting. This technique is recommended for areas with short
growing seasons or when low temperatures slow plant growth.
GA is also labelled for increased fruit set and fruit growth. Apply 1 or two sprays of 1-3 g ai/acre in 25-50 gal/acre
at weekly intervals during flowering. The high rate is recommended for areas or varieties with pollination or fruit set problems.
To promote fruit size, apply GA at the beginning of the harvest period, with the 3-g rate recommended for heavy crop loads.
Caution: For trial only. Efficacy of GA on pepper has not been confirmed under Pacific Northwest environmental conditions.
Water stress, as exemplified by extremes of drying and wetting,
increases incidence of blossom-end rot. Also avoid over-irrigation after
fruit ripens to reduce risk of fruit decay. Excess moisture on the foliage
and fruit may aggravate this. Morning sprinkler irrigations are helpful in
allowing time for foliage to dry before nightfall.
A total of 12-15 inches may be needed in western Oregon and 25-30 inches
in eastern Oregon, depending on planting date and harvest season. Approximate
summer irrigation needs for the Hermiston area have been found to be: 3.5
inches in May, 5.0 in June, 7.5 in July, and 7.0 in August.
Research has shown that the use of drip irrigation under black plastic
mulch is superior to
sprinkler irrigation with black plastic mulch. Yields usually increase dramatically.
HARVESTING, HANDLING, AND STORAGE
Yields of 15 to 25 tons/acre of bell peppers may be obtained for
processing. Fresh market yields
may range from 500 to 1000 28-lb cartons/acre. When using appropriate
plasticulture techniques, yields of 1428 28-lb cartons/acre have been
reported. Pimiento and dried chili
pepper yields range from 2 to 3 tons/acre. Pepper yields are greatly influenced by the number of
harvests and season. As peppers mature their wall thickens. Pick peppers when
fruit is firm and well colored.
In the Northwest, bell peppers are generally hand harvested as green
mature fruit. For fresh market, or when fruit is to be stored, peppers should
be cut cleanly from the plant using a hand clipper or sharp knife, leaving
about a 1-inch section of the pedicel (stem) attached to the fruit. A clean
cut is important as such cut surfaces heal more quickly. This reduces
incidence of decay in storage and during transport to market. Care should
also be exercised to be sure stems do not cause puncture wounds in harvested
Maturity is determined when fruit is smooth and firm to the touch (a function of wall
thickness). Bell peppers
for fresh market must also be 3 inches in diameter and not less than 3.5
inches long to qualify as
USDA Fancy. They can also be harvested red, which are considerably sweeter
and more flavorful. Mature yellow, orange and purple bell peppers, together with red
bell peppers represent
a generally higher value product in fresh market channels.
Pixall (100 Bean St., Clear Lake, WI 54005) manufactures a mechanical harvester suitable
for chile, cherry, and jalapeño peppers. Pixall also makes harvesters for beans, corn, peas, and spinach.
Pik Rite (101 Fairfield Rd., Lewisburg, PA 17837) offers a mechanical harvester
for bell, cherry, chili, and banana peppers. Pik Rite also manufactures harvesters for tomatoes and cucumbers.
Cherry peppers are machine-harvested most successfully. Cherry types
are harvested as both green and red fruits, and the banana types are generally
harvested as yellow mature peppers. Jalapeño and some cherry peppers have
been machine harvested successfully in Michigan and California. Machine harvesting may be
successful with other types, especially where the peppers are intended for processing.
STORAGE (Quoted or modified from USDA Ag. Handbook 66 and other sources)
Store sweet peppers at 45 to 55 F and 90 to 95 % relative humidity.
Sweet, or bell, peppers are
subject to chilling injury at temperatures below 45 F, and temperatures above
55 F encourage
ripening and spread of bacterial soft rot. Bell peppers should not be stored
longer than 2 to 3
weeks even under the most favorable conditions. At 32 to 36 F peppers usually
develop pitting in
a few days. Peppers held below 45 F long enough to cause serious chilling
injury also develop
numerous lesions of Alternaria rot. Alternaria causes the calyx
to mold and decay. Holding at
40 F and below predisposes peppers to Botrytis decay also.
Rapid precooling of harvested sweet peppers is essential in reducing
marketing losses, and this
can be done by forced-air cooling, hydrocooling or vacuum cooling. Properly
vented cartons are
recommended to facilitate forced-air cooling. If hydrocooling is used, care
should be taken to
prevent the development of decay.
Sweet peppers prepackaged in moisture-retentive films, such as
perforated polyethylene, have a
storage life at 45 to 50 F up to a week longer than non-packaged peppers.
The use of film crate
liners can help in reducing moisture loss from the fruit.
It is commercial practice to wax fresh-market peppers but this is
uncommon in Oregon. Only a thin coating should be
applied. Waxing provides
some surface lubrication, which not only reduces chafing in transit but also
reduces shrinkage; the
result is longer storage and shelf life. Senescence of sweet peppers is
hastened by ethylene.
Therefore, it is not a good practice to store peppers with apples, pears,
tomatoes, or other
ethylene producing fruits in the same room.
Low-oxygen (3 to 5 %) atmospheres retard ripening and respiration during
transit and storage.
High concentrations of carbon dioxide delay the loss of green color. However,
dioxide also causes calyx discoloration.
Dried Chili and Other Hot Peppers:
Storage temperature depends on use; see text. A humidity of 60 to 70%
is recommended. Chili
peppers are usually picked when ripe and are then dried and allowed to
equalize in moisture
content in covered piles. Water is usually added to the peppers after drying
to reduce brittleness.
They are then packed tightly into sacks holding 200 or more pounds and are
generally stored in
non-refrigerated warehouses for up to 6 months. The temperature of the
warehouses depends to
some extent on their construction and the way in which they are managed but
chiefly on the
outside temperature (50 to 75 F). Insect infestation is a major storage
problem. In southern
states, chili and other hot peppers are dried, packaged, and then stored at 32
to 50 F until shipped
to processing plants. Storage at low temperatures aids in retarding the loss
of red color and in
slowing down insect activity.
The moisture content of chili and other hot peppers when stored should
be low enough (10 to 15 %) to prevent mold growth. A relative humidity of 60 to 70 % is desirable.
With a higher moisture content the pods may be too pliable for grinding and may have to be
re-dried. With lower moisture content (under 10 %) pods may be so brittle that they shatter during
handling; this causes losses and the release of dust, which is irritating to the skin and
The use of polyethylene bags allows better storage and reduces the dust
problem. The liners
ensure that the pods maintain a constant moisture content during storage and
up until the time of
grinding; thus, they permit successful storage or shipment under a wide range
humidities. Packed in this manner, peppers can be stored 6 to 9 months at 32
to 40 F.
Manufacturers of chili and other hot pepper products hold part of their
supply of the raw material
in cold storage at 32 to 50 F, but they prefer to grind the peppers as soon as
possible and store
them in the manufactured form in airtight containers.
Freshly harvested chili or other hot peppers should be stored under the
same temperature and
humidity conditions as those for sweet peppers.
Bell peppers are packaged in 25 to 30-lb (l l/9 bushel) containers or
30-lb cartons. Chili peppers and yellow types are packaged in 16 to 25-lb lugs or 10 to 20-lb cartons.
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