Developments in pepper breeding have broadened the array of varieties available to pepper aficionados.
Hot pepper growers can please their clients with the world’s hottest pepper or choose one with practically no heat. New Mexico State University has documented Blut Jolakia at over a million Scoville Heat Units (SHU)—an average jalapeño measures about 10,000 SHUs. Professor Paul Bosland notes that Blut Jolakia is a naturally occurring interspecific hybrid indigenous to the Assam region of India. He adds that because of its high concentration of heat, it has potential as a food additive. It may be a cross between a habanero and a Tabasco-type. The University’s Chile Pepper Institute has seeds available this year.
On the other end of the SHU scale, Penn State University is distributing seeds of Zavory pepper exclusively to Seedway this season. Developed by the late Professor Paul Grun after years of accessions and crosses with peppers from South American markets, the Zavory has the fruitiness and aroma of a habanero, but with only 100 SHUs. This unique variety packs fresh-market potential.
Texas A&M researchers, led by Dr. Kevin Crosby, have released a no-heat jalapeño, Bulcito, or “Little Sweetie.” This variety is expected to appeal to processors, who regulate the heat content of their products.
The pepper breeding project of the California Pepper Commission, along with federal grant funds, is currently focusing on the wide range of viruses that affect peppers. Dr. Molly Jahn, dean of the college of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, says many resistances can be stacked because of the nature of the genes. Consequently, improvements in pepper breeding methods are underway.
Pepper breeders at seed companies have been releasing more varieties with disease resistances, as well as enhanced fruit quality. The following new or nearly new varieties reflect many improved varieties that were available by press time. Greenhouse varieties will follow in a later issue.
Cheyenne matures 10 days to two weeks earlier than other hybrid cayenne types. Sakata bred this medium-pungent, classic-shaped cayenne—long fruit tapering to a point with heavy wrinkling in the crown turning to finer wrinkling at the point. Its compact, vigorous plants hold the fruit well off the ground. The concentrated fruit set ripens from light green to red, with heavy yield potential. Trials (XPP 3800) indicated no lodging problems.
Harris Moran notes that El Hombre gives consistent, early to midseason performance. With straighter pods than typical cayenne peppers, it also colors from green to red quickly.
Seminis’ Big Bomb has a strong plant and a higher yield potential than Cherry Bomb. An early hot cherry pepper developed for pickling, its green to red pods are globular to pointy and measure 5 by 6 centimeters.
Seminis has introduced Kulkulkan, an experimental habanero (PX 11423486) with resistance to tobamo Po. Its strong plants produce an excellent set of extremely pungent, tapered, wrinkled fruit that matures from green to orange. It is ideal for sauce production, oil extraction and blending.
TigerPaw-NR, a hot habanero developed by the Agricultural Research Service of the U. S. Department of Agriculture, resists root-knot nematodes. Geneticist Dr. Richard L. Fery, reported that, as of press time, the USDA was still negotiating the seed sales.
Seminis has an early hybrid jalapeño with a good, concentrated fruit set, Tajin. Its large, uniform, thick-walled, medium to dark green fruit have a higher pungency level than Tula. The fruit of this new variety (PS 11422290 in trials) measures 9.8 by 4.1 centimeters.
Sakata reports that its Jalafuego has excellent yields of extra-large, smooth, very dark green and very hot fruit. The extra length of this new jalapeño makes it ideal for growing conditions that cause fruit shortening. In addition, it resists bacterial leaf spot 1, 2 and 3 and potato virus Y 0, 1 and 2.
Capsico, another Sakata jalapeño, produces heavy sets of extra-large, pungent, dark green fruits. Its blunt-tipped blossom ends demonstrate a minimum of corking and anthocyanin. The smooth fruit have the classic shape. The large, vigorous plants resist bacterial leaf spot races 1, 2 and 3; potato virus Y 0, 1 and 2; and pepper mottle virus. Widely adapted, it performs well in California, Mexico and the eastern U. S.
Mammoth, an extremely large jalapeño exclusive to Seedway, can reach 5.5 inches in length.
United Genetics has developed five new jalapeño peppers. Dark green, thick-walled Jalapride sets heavily. Its glossy 4 to 5 by 1 to 1.5-inch fruit, suitable for fresh market, possesses medium heat. Moreover, the fruits show little taper, low cracking and low anthocyanin. The medium plants provide good fruit cover.
New Park BLR’s dark green, glossy, high heat fruit also cracks little and has low anthocyanin. Because the 5 to 5.5 by 1-inch fruit tapers little, it is especially good for processing into rings. Medium-tall plants produce heavily and resist bacterial leaf spot 1, 2 and 3.
Tlamex BLR also sets fruit heavily on medium plants. The dark green, glossy fruit also have high heat, thick walls and low taper and measure 5 to 5.5 inches by 1.5 inches. With low anthocyanin, it also resists bacterial leaf spot 1, 2 and 3.
Two others bred by United Genetics, medium-tall Barajas BLR and UG 14304 BLR both yield well. The fruit of each have medium heat and crack little. The thick-walled, dark green, glossy, high-quality 5 to 5.5 by 1.5-inch fruit taper slightly. In addition, both have the bacterial leaf spot resistances and low anthocyanin.
Corcel, a traditional mulato-type 17.5 by 9 centimeters poblano, produces a high percentage of two-lobed fruit on a strong plant. Bred by Seminis, it matures from dark green to chocolate brown.
Devil, developed by U.S. Agriseeds, is an especially large serrano. It also produces impressive yields of its dark green fruit.
Seminis’ Cocula, a hybrid serrano, has excellent fruit quality. Its medium plant produces a concentrated set of 10-by-2-centimeter fruit. With medium walls, the cylindrical fruit is straight. It resists potato virus Y 0 and has intermediate resistance to phytophthora.
Boris, Seedway’s exclusive high-yielding banana pepper, features straight, smooth, thick walls and has resistance to tomato spotted wilt virus. Seedway also has exclusive distribution for the Corni de Toro type variety, Ringo Gold. In addition, their semi-hot stuffing pepper, Astry, matures from ivory to bright red.
Stokes’ exclusive Italian stuffing pepper, Naples, includes resistances to bacterial leaf spot races 1, 2, 3, 7 and 8.
Harris Moran says its new sweet pepper, Declaration, offers exceptional pack-outs of classy, large fruit. Its tall, erect plants provide excellent leaf cover and a continuous set. Mostly four-lobed, its elongated shape and shiny, dark green color give it eye appeal. The disease package includes resistance to bacterial leaf spot races 1, 2, 3 and 5, plus intermediate resistance to tomato spotted wilt virus, cucumber mosaic virus and phytophthora. Grower trials demonstrated high yields.
Thick-walled, three to four-lobed, smooth, deep green Gold Crown matures to a deep golden yellow. Widely adapted, it has performed well in Mexico, California and the eastern U.S. Developed by Sakata, it resists bacterial leaf spot 1, 2 and 3 and potato virus Y 0, 1, and 2.
Sakata’s Red Bull, with its firm, extra-thick walls, ships easily. Its medium-large plants with an excellent canopy support heavy sets of the four-lobed, blocky fruits, which may be slightly elongated. Resistant to bacterial leaf spot races 1, 2 and 3, this hybrid’s trial performance (SPP2025) has generated interest in both the eastern and western U.S., including the universities of Florida and California.
Plato (X3R) produces dark green to red, large to extra-large, blocky, firm fruit on a medium to large robust plant. Bred by Seminis, it resists potato virus Y 0; tobamo Po; bacterial spot races 1, 2 and 3; and tomato spotted wilt virus.
PS 9928302 (X5R) has shown adaptability in trials with good size, shape, uniformity and color. Anthocyaninless, its large, robust plant produces dark green to red, firm fruits. Also bred by Seminis, it resists bacterial spot races 1 to 5 and tobamo Po.
Another Seminis variety, PS 9915776 (X5R) produces early, blocky, large, smooth fruit that remains firm even at the mature red stage. Also anthocyaninless, its robust plant sets well. It carries the same resistances as PS 9928302.
Polaris, bred by Western Seed, Inc., has very thick walls of four-lobed dark green, maturing red fruit. Widely adaptable, it resists bacterial leaf spot 1, 2 and 3 and yields well.
Developed by Bejo, Flavorburst starts its heavy yields with lime-green fruits, then matures through yellow to a rich, deep gold. Flavorful, its thick walls produce a juicy crunchiness to its big, blocky fruit. BSS 518 is in trials, it is exclusive to Seedway and recommended for both commercial and market growers.
Seedway also has exclusive distribution for Yummy Mixed, an assortment of snack peppers in vibrant orange, red and yellow.
Note: Pepper seeds from the developers are available from dealer/distributors, such as Champion, Gowan, Harris, Johnny’s, Keithly-Williams, Rispens, Rupp, Seedway, Siegers, Stokes and TS & L.
The author is a writer-researcher specializing in agriculture. She currently lives in Central Pennsylvania and may be contacted at email@example.com.