The effects of soilless substrates on sweet chili pepper growth and production.
Altema, Rose F.
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Sweet chili pepper (Capsicum chinense Jacq.) is one of the principal components of the local cuisine of Puerto Rico. Considering the scarcity of land appropriate for field production in mountainous areas of Puerto Rico, soilless alternatives for production of sweet chili pepper should be considered. This study evaluated five substrates (1) PRO-MIX® BX (BX), (2) PRO-MIX® BX + Mycorrhizae (BX+Myco), (3) Coconut fiber (COCO), (4) PRO-MIX® High porosity + Mycorrhizae (HP+Myco) and (5) PRO-MIX® High porosity + Mycorrhizae + Biofungicide (HP+Myco+Fung) with the potential of being used in container production of sweet chili pepper in Puerto Rico, and four new cultivars of sweet chili pepper (‘Bonanza’, ‘Carnaval’, ‘Amanecer’ and ‘Pasión’). Two plantings (Experiment I and II) using a factorial design (5 substrates x 4 cultivars) were carried out in 2017 and 2018. In general, differences between substrates were not affected by cultivar; substrate x cultivar interactions were either ordered or not significant. Plants in Experiment II were much more productive. The best substrates or cultivars in Experiment I were not always the best substrates or cultivars in Experiment II. BX produced plants with the highest number of fruits and fruit weight per plant and the largest average fruit weight in Experiment I, while BX, BX+Myco and HP+Myco+Fung produced equally productive plants in Experiment II. ‘Bonanza’ was the most productive cultivar in Experiment I, while ‘Amanecer’ was superior in Experiment II. This research suggests that, based on its lower cost, BX would be a good choice for soilless production of sweet chili pepper. For sweet chili pepper production in pots, ‘Amanecer’ and ‘Bonanza’ would be better cultivar choices than ‘Pasión’ and ‘Carnaval’.