Chilli Cultivation Guide

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About the Crop

###Crop Name
Chilli

###Common names
Green Chillies, Chilli pepper, Paprika, Cayenne, Jalapenos, Chitlepin

###Scientific Name
Capsicum annum

###Name in Indian languages
Pachchii Milagai (Tamil), Pachamulagu (Malayalam), Patchimirapa / Pachchi Mirapakayalu (Telugu), Hasi Menasinakai (Kannada), Hara Mircha / Hari Mirch (Hindi), Kancha Lanka / Maricha (Bengali), Marcha (Gujarati), Jeevisaang / Tanrni Mirsang / Tanrni Miriyasang (Konkani), Pachchai Milagai (Marathi), Lila Marcha (Oriya), Mirchan (Punjabi)

###Origin, Distribution and Uses
It is believed that chilli is originated from Americas.There are many varieties in chilli and each variety grown in different places has a different flavour. Chilli is an important ingredient in Indian cuisine as well as any international cuisine. The usage of chilli in different cuisines makes it a very essential part of cooking. Chilli peppers are believed to be introduced in Asia as well as in India by Portuguese traders.The usage of chilli in Goan cuisine is much more compared to other parts of India which is a correlation for the presence of portuguese traders. The intensity or heat of chilli peppers is measured in Scoville heat units (SHU). The intensity or heat varies in different varieties of chilli. Chilli is used in various forms in different cuisines. Chillies are ground as paste, dried chillies are powdered and they are used as it is different cuisines. Chillies play an important role to bring the flavour and the needed spice to any cuisine. There are 3 main varieties in chilli related to colour i.e red , green and yellow. Chillies are very good in vitamin c, Vitamin B and are very high in potassium, magnesium, and iron.

Area, Production and Productivity

Chillies are cultivated in many places all over the world and in India. The cultivation of chillies is done in many states like Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamilnadu, Telangana, Punjab and West Bengal. The average chilli production is 574 to 957 kg per hectare.

Cultivation Requirements

###Climate and Seasons
Chilli is a crop which is grown well in warm and humid climate with a temperature of 20-25° C. The crop prefers high moisture content as the low moisture causes the fruit drops. Although a good rainfall is needed for the crop, excessive rainfall is not good as it rottens the crop. For Kharif the sowing time is May-June and for summer crop the sowing time is the month of January.
###Soils
Chilli can be grown in many varieties of soil, though black soil is well suited for chilli cultivation. Loose sand soils and delta lands are also good. Care should be taken that the water is not stagnant and well drained as it will spoil the crop. Care should be taken that the soil is not acidic.
##Varieties
###F1 Hybrids

  • Solan Hot
  • Nisha-212
  • Mahima-213
  • Karan Arjun
  • R.K.-219
  • R.K.-221
  • Naveli
  • R K-1919
  • Sakranti
    ###Improved Varieties
  • N.P. 46
  • Jwala
  • G-3
  • CA-960
  • Pant C-t X - 235
  • AKC - 79-18
  • Parbhani Tejas
  • Agnirekha
  • Musahvadi
  • Phule Jyoti
  • Pbiile Sai
  • Suryamukhi
  • Phule Mukta
  • Surkta
  • Jayanti
  • Kankan Kirti

Crop Management

###Field Preparation
The land for chilli cultivation should be well drained and well aerated. The land should be given 2-3 ploughings and the compost should be spread 15-20 days before sowing. By giving a break of 10 days and then ploughing the soil will make the excess moisture to evaporate and improves the clod condition of the soil.
###Propagation
Seeds are used for propagation or cultivation of chillies.
###Sowing, Nursery and Transplanting
Chilli seeds need to be first sown in well-prepared nursery beds which may be 60 cm-100 cm in width with suitable and preferred length. Good quality seeds which are well-formed must be used for sowing and diseased or broken seeds should not be used.
###Seed Rate
1 to 1.5 kg of seeds are required for 1 hectare area. Preparing the field properly and taking care of the drainage problems is very necessary for getting good results. As hot weather conditions are very much suitable for the crop it is good if the crop is grown in such conditions. The early stages and the germination stages of the crop needs proper care. Mulching is a very good technique during these two stages. Nurseries or green houses can be used to cultivate the chillies in adverse weather conditions to help in germination of seeds and the early growth of the plants. Direct seeding of chilli seeds into the main field is not a good idea and needs to be avoided for the following reasons:

  • As the cost of good quality seeds is high it is good if proper conditions are provided for the germination and early growth.

  • The conditions required may not be available in open fields.

  • The field may not be properly ready for sowing the seeds.

  • Needs special equipment for spacing and proper sowing.

  • Controlling the weeds may be a big problem.
    ###Seed Treatment

  • Seeds should be selected from healthy, fully ripped and dried chilli fruit.

  • The seeds should be treated with mercurial fungicide like Cerasan or Agrosan @ 2.5 gm/kg seed for protection against seed born disease. The seeds should be mixed with fine soil or ash for sowing and to avoid the haphazard growth of seedlings.

  • Before transplanting, the seedlings should be dipped in 1% Bordeaux mixture and Dimethoate solution @ 17 ml/10 lit. water to make them disease and insect pest resistant.
    ###Transplanting
    Transplanting the chilli plants requires the plants to be hardened in order to withstand the climatic and soil conditions. For 3-6 weeks the plants should be protected, later the chilli plants when can be transplanted to the main field area or in to individual pots. A chilli plant which is not flowering or ready to flower is perfect for transplanting. The best thing would be to select the chilli plants from a nursery or green house as they will be of a same variety, size and quality. The plants which are grown in containers or pots should be chosen as they have better soil adapting conditions and they can be planted with good rooting conditions. There are good chances for such plants to resume growth more quickly and rapid growth. The watering of plants should be lessened when decided to transplant which improves in hardening of the plants. The plants when hardened will slower the growth process and makes them much adaptable to the change in the soil and climatic conditions. The plants grown must be transplanted in to the main field area immediately after removing from the pot or tray or nursery bed. Care should be taken so that the roots of the plant are not dried off before transplanting. If there is any delay in re-planting, then the plants should be kept in a cool place. The plant should be set 3 - 4 inches deep into the soil with the root completely covered with soil. Proper watering of the plants after transplanting and providing necessary support like placing a stick next to the plant should be given in order to improve the growth of the plant.
    ###Spacing
    Spacing is a very important factor to get good results. Adequate spacing should be there for proper growth of each plant. 60 -70 cm is a considered to be a good spacing for most of the soils. The particular characteristics of a variety should be considered while transplanting. The size of the plant, the particular health condition of an individual plant should be considered so that all the plants get enough nutrients.
    ###Cropping Patterns
    Chilli crop can be intercropped with other crops like tomato or some other small shrub variety crop. Intercropping of chilli-tomato or some other combination works well. Care should be taken so that the other crop which is chosen does not grow too long or spreads too wide as the chilli plant is a small shrub and needs lot of sunlight and heat to grow well.
    ###Water Management
    The chilli plants need adequate water for their growth. But care should also taken be that water is not stagnant in the nursery beds and fields. Too much moisture can cause fungal infections in chilli plants. So care should be taken as when the plants should be watered and the watering should be done only when necessary. A very good tip would be to water the plants when the leaves start drooping at 4 p.m. Flowering and fruiting stages are very important stages in chilli cultivation and care should be taken in these stages like avoiding too much use of fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides.
    ###Nutrient Management

  • 10 to 11 tons of Farm yard manure (FYM) or compost is used to prepare the field for chilli cultivation per hectare.

  • 50 Kg P and 25 Kg N at the measure of half dose of P and one dose of N should be used during transplantation of chilli plants.

  • For irrigated crop 100 Kg N, 50 Kg P and 50 Kg P should be used per Hectare.
    ###Weed Management

  • All the weeds should be removed after 30 days after transplantation.

  • Hoeing is another procedure which controls weeds and loosens the soil.

  • Pendimethalin 1.0 kg a.i/ha or Fluchloralin 1.0 kg a.i /ha as pre-emergence herbicide is effective for controlling weeds.

  • Black polythene and straw when used as mulch helps to retain moisture of the soil thereby controlling weeds.
    ###Pests and Management

  • Melon Thrips
    Giving Seed treatment with imidacloprid (Gaucho) @ 5 grams per kg and spraying with imidacloprid @ 1 ml in 3-4 liters of water or Fipronil @ 2 ml per liter in the field would be a better solution.

  • Broad Mites
    Spraying with miticides such as Dicofol @5 ml per liter or wettable sulphur 3 grams per liter or Pegasis @ 1 gm per liter or Vertemic @ 0.5 ml per liter. Using overhead irrigation with sprinklers is effective for management of mites.

  • Aphids
    An easy solution to manage aphids is to spray a very weak soap solution. But frequent application
    should be avoided as it will affect the crop growth. Ladybird beetles and hover flies are natural predators of aphids. Attracting them into the fields is the best way to naturally control aphids. Planting bright flowers such as marigolds around the chilli plots is a very natural and organic way to attract these natural enemies. If the infestation is severe, Dimethoate @ 2 ml or Acephate @ 1 gram per liter or Imidacloprid @ 1 ml in 3-4 liters can effectively manage aphids.

  • Pod borers
    For monitoring this pest, installation of pheromone traps for Spodoptera litura and Helicoverpa armigera are very useful. Another organic method to control this pest would be to plant sunflower along the borders which attract ovipositing moths, thereby saving the main crop from infestation. Placing poison baits (8:1:1 bran, jaggery and Chloripyriphos) close to the plants are effective in controlling immigrating Spodoptera caterpillars (25 kg bait is sufficient for one ha). Use of Foliar spray with Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) at recommended dose (for example, a product such as Dipel can be applied @ 4 ml/liter, i.e., 1 liter/ha with power sprayer) at early stage of pod borer infestation is another effective pest management. In case of epidemic situations, application of Indoxacarb @ 1 ml per liter or Spinosad @ 0.3 ml per liter will be effective. Also, for Spodoptera and Helicoverpa, application of nuclear polyhedrosis virus (NPV) @ 500 LE per ha at the early stage of the pest infestation proved to be an effective control.
    ###Diseases and Management

  • Damping Off
    This is a serious disease of chilli seedlings and occur when they are in nursery bed. The seedlings afftected with this disease rot at ground level and then the plants fall over ground. The seedlings die in patches.
    Management: The field or nursery bed should be treated with Formalin before sowing of seeds. The seeds should be treated without water (30 minutes at 520 C) or Cerasan or Agrosan G.N. before sowing them. The seedlings should be sprayed with fungicides at a regular interval.

  • Bacterial Leaf Spot
    The disease is spread like dark, greasy spots on leaf, petiole and tender parts, of the plant. Water soaked spots appear on green fruits. The leaves may drop off and cause considerable loss to the crop.
    Management: Spraying Agrimycin - 100 k at 200 ppm plus Copper Oxychloride 0.3 percent controls the disease effectively.

  • Anthracnose
    The disease is affected by dark sunken spots on chillies and pink or dark coloured dots appear in the centre of the sunken spots. When these spots occur, the fruits rot and fall. The fungus may cause “Die back” of the twigs also. The Die back disease attacks the upper portion of the plants spreading gradually from the top to downward; as a result the branches dry up. The main reasons for this disease are moist weather, shade and heavy dew.
    Management: The treatment of seeds with Cerasan before sowing, removing and burning of attacked plants or branches and spraying the disease affected crops with Mancozeb (Dithane M-45) @ 2.5 gm per litre of water are the control measures for this disease.

  • Leaf Curl
    This disease when affected, the leaves become small in size and the leaves turn downward and become curly. The leaves may fall off in case of sever attack. The disease usually spreads through insect vectors such as thrips and aphids etc.
    Management: This disease can be controlled by spraying the crop with Dimethoate (Rogor-30 EC) or Monocrotophos (Monocil) @ 1 ml per litre of water.

Organic Cultivation

For organic cultivation of chillies, only organic matter should be used like compost, farmyard manure and poultry litter to enrich the nutrient content of the soil. Crop rotation can be implemented with organic crops. Rotating the cultivation of chillies in the same field with legumes once every few years is an effective way to retain Nitrogen content in the soil. Regular crop rotation and cultivation of trap crops like marigold and sweetcorn helps to keep a check on the menace of pests. Weeds can be controlled by using mulches, tilling, shallow sanitation or by regular hoeing.

Marketing

Chillies are a perishable crop. After harvesting chillies should be transported or exported in a minimum amount of time. Chillies when transported to big cities and other food processing establishments may bring more profit to the farmers of India instead of selling it to the local markets. Supply to the big retail markets in cities of India directly from the field area may involve additional costs of labour or equipment as their size, variety or quality specifications must be met.

Harvesting and Yield

Harvesting of chillies are mostly done by hand where the fully grown chillies are plucked from the plant. This method allows for selective and disease-free picking of the chillies and is suitable for Indian conditions. Baskets may be used for temporary storage during plucking time in the fields and in most villages big baskets of bamboo are still used for transporting chillies to the market.
Chillies after plucking from the plant should be transported or stored to avoid the spoiling. Keeping in storage facilities under controlled temperature is the answer for long storage. For long distance transport, it is best to pluck the chillies when they are fully grown and have a good size and shape.
Quality and the size of the chillies are to be maintained for specialized supermarkets in cities and also for export. Specifications by the importing country or of the market is an important factor for changing the post-harvest technology in different areas.

Reserved for additional information