Peppers are among the most popular of interest for human nutrition, health and spice. The Exotic Pepper Project is led by Drs. Albert Ayeni, Tom Orton and Jim Simon (Department of Plant Biology). Collaborators include Rutgers graduate and undergraduate students, stakeholders from the pepper sauce industry and New Jersey ethnic crop growers.
Research sites include substations of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, such as the Rutgers Agricultural Research and Extension Center (RAREC) in Bridgeton and the Snyder Research and Extension Farm in Pittstown. R&D efforts to date have been funded by the NJAES and USDA’s IR-4 Project.
Exotic pepper germplasm collection started in New Jersey.
Forty-five pepper selections were field evaluated at the Rutgers Agricultural Research and Extension Center (RAREC).
Out of the most promising 15 habanero pepper types, seven were selected for further development.
‘Pumpkin’ habanero topped the list of preferred habanero peppers for color and appearance, taste, flavor and moderate heat level.
Varieties released by the pepper program combine the best fruit quality and horticultural characteristics from selected Capsicum annum, C. chinense, and C. frutescens breeding lines.
Capsicum chinense Pumpkin Habanero
Good source of Vitamins A & C; high in fiber; sweet, flavorful and crunchy fruit wall; moderate heat in seed and placenta (<50,000 SHU); high fruit yield (100-220/plant); small plant size (12-18” tall); small/medium size fruit (9-12 g, about ½ oz/fruit).
Seed flats in nursery (70-85oF) 8-10 weeks before transplanting (seeds germinate from 10-30 days under this condition); transplant seedlings into well prepared seedbed (sandy loam to loamy sand; pH 6.0-6.8; OM >1.5%, medium to high CEC) between May 15 and June 10 in NJ and the Mid-Atlantic (transplanting into plastic mulch is recommended); apply fertilizer as needed based on soil test results (NPK 20-20-20 or 10-10-10 works well); control weeds as recommended by your Agricultural Extension County Agent, irrigate as needed (trickle irrigation is recommended); currently no known pest or disease problems in New Jersey.
For ripe fruit start harvesting every 2-3 weeks from early September until the first frost in October; for green fruit start harvesting end of August. Ripe fruit durability on the plant is >4 weeks, so harvesting may be delayed up to 4 weeks after fruit ripens.