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Economic Feasibility of Producing Hybrid Chile Transplants and Potted Ornamental Peppers (2003)


Economic Feasibility of Producing Heirloom Peppers and Specialty Pepper Transplants for Market and Seed Saving Activities (2004)


Project Leaders: Kim and Nancy Larson, Larson's Gardens, Fowler, CO

Technical Advisor: Mike Bartolo, CSU Arkansas River Valley Research Center

  Kim Larson

2003 Project Summary

With this project Nancy and I hoped to address and explore the growing interest in hybrid chiles and potted ornamental peppers. We were able to successfully and economically produce pepper transplant seedlings including hybrids, open-pollinated types, and ornamentals - most of which were either sold or were planted in the open field. Pepper transplants were grown to marketable size at our facilities at about half the cost of similar sized plants offered for sale by other growers. Our transplants were well received by retail patrons, market growers and other plant dealers as well.

Photo credit - Alena Scott   Field trials were conducted comparing yield and performance vs. cost in order to better understand the economic feasibility of producing hybrid chile transplants. The summer of 2003 proved to be a challenge to growers because it was one of the hottest and driest on record. Field-grown peppers were comparatively vigorous and productive in spite of the drought.
We had mixed success producing and marketing the potted ornamental peppers. Failures were encountered, but this made our more frequent successes all the more enjoyable. I hope that our achievements as well as our defeats will help others to more fully understand the cultivation of these beautiful plants.   Photo credit - Alena Scott

Nancy and I wish to continue producing pepper transplants for market and field testing. Our transplant sales increased over last season - even when many people didn't bother with a garden because of water restrictions. We hope to raise more varieties of productive hybrids, interesting heirlooms, and beautiful ornamental peppers because of the continued, heightened interest in pepper cultivation.

2004 Project Summary

Photo credit - Alena Scott   The goal of this project was to grow transplants of heirloom peppers, more hybrid chiles, and more edible, ornamental peppers for field testing, fresh market evaluation, and pure seed production. Heirloom pepper transplants were grown in order to produce a crop of specialty peppers for fresh-market evaluation and the bedding plant trade. Some of the crop was set aside for the purpose of producing and saving their seeds.

Over 100 varieties of peppers were grown and evaluated for this project, including very sweet to extra hot types of heirlooms, commercial open-pollinated and hybrid varieties, and some of their own selection and breeding. Plastic mulch was used as well as drip irrigation.

Even though this season's weather was much more amenable to pepper cultivation than the past three years, there was a lot of crop failure and plant death. This was due to the amount of rain we received- over 12 inches, compared to the 6.5 inches in 2003. The higher moisture levels reduced stress on the crop, but it also invited a lot of weeds and insects.   Photo credit - Alena Scott

Realistic field trials were conducted of many chile varieties to help answer questions that discriminating growers might have. One primary concern was finding the best types of peppers to grow with better yield for that area and growing conditions. Several varieties in every category showed promise, especially mild to extra hot roasting-type chiles. Ornamental peppers proved to be a continuing hit with good interest for most varieties. Seeds were saved from almost all varieties grown this past season. We are looking foward to growing them out next season to see whether or not they are as good as we expect them to be.

Colorado State University College of Agricultural Sciences Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture