Source: FLORIDA A&M UNIVERSITY submitted to
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Oct 1, 2002
Project End Date
Sep 30, 2008
Grant Year
Project Director
Gardner, C. S.
Recipient Organization
Performing Department
Non Technical Summary
Reduction in numbers of family owned small-scale farms may be due to the poor profitability with traditional enterprize. Production, processing and marketing of hot pepper can potentially alleviate this dilema.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Goals / Objectives
To continue, intensify and expand investigative studies of hot pepper as a potential lucrative enterprize to benefit small-scale farmers.
Project Methods
1. On-farm and on-station studies addressing specific areas of research. 2. Idnetification of market availability nationwide. 3. Development of value-added products for improvement in small farm enterprizes.

Progress 01/01/07 to 12/31/07

Studies carried out in Florida showed that "Scotch Bonnet" hot pepper produced better under sunny conditions compared to shade. In fact fruit yield would be uneconomic if produced beyond the 27 - 30 percent shade level. Increasing the incidence of shade beyond this plateau, altered the growth pattern and reduced fruit yield to zero. At this low light level the plants will grow but neither flowering nor fruiting occurs. Plants in the high shade level also had fewer branches and larger leaves compared to plants which grew under more sunny conditions. The high level of shade seem to negatively affect the light quality and hence the phytochrome ratio (PR:PFR) within the plant thereby preventing flower initiation. Other studies carried out showed that plant growth and fruit yield responded well to organic nutrient sources such as poultry manure and mushroom compost.

These results can benefit commercial or hobby farmers with limited land who are interested in a cash crop to during the establishment of a perennial crop such as citrus or Pecan. Students interested in the physiology of crop plants may use the study as a model to understand plant environmental relationships. Use of organic nutrient sources will contribute to environmental sustainability while enhancing enterprise profits.


  • Legaspi, J. C., C. Gardner, G. Queeley, N. Leppla, J. Cuda and B. C. Legaspi, Jr. 2007. Effect of organic and chemical fertilizers on growth and yield of hot pepper, and insect pests and their natural enemies. Sub-tropical Plant Science. (In print).
  • Gardner, Cassel, Gilbert Queeley and Trevor Hylton. 2007. Growing Scotch Bonnet Hot Peppers (Capsicum Chinense) in shade Houses: Maximizing Production by Manipulating Light Intensity. Caribbean Food Crops Society 43rd Annual Meeting. San Jose, Costa Rica.
  • Gardner, Cassel and Gilbert Queeley. 2007 Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper (Capsicum Chinense) Fruit Yield in Response to Phosphorus fertilizer on an Orangeburg Sandy Loam Soil. Caribbean Food Crops Society 43rd Annual Meeting. San Jose, Costa Rica.
  • Gardner, Cassel, Gilbert Queeley and T. Hylton. 2007. Growing scotch bonnet hot peppers in shade houses: Analyzing the effects of light to enhance productivity. Florida State Horticultural Society annual meeting, West Palm Beach Florida.

Progress 01/01/06 to 12/31/06

During the fiscal year two studies were carried out under this project. Study # 1: Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper (Capsicum chinense Jacq.)Yield Parameters in Response to Phosphorous Fertilizer on an Orangeburg Sandy Loam Soil. The objectives of this project were: - To determine the critical range of phosphorous (P) required for growing hot pepper in Florida. - To determine a threshold for P use in hot pepper production. This was the second year of this two year project. Collection of field data was completed on November 30th 2006. Based on the first year's results, it was concluded that the baseline P level at the study site was sufficient for sustaining the growth and fruit production of the crop and that fruit yield would not be significantly increased by additional P application. Analysis of the second year's data is in progress. Study # 2: The Effect of Variable light Intensities on Growth and Yield of Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper. The objective of this two year study is to determine the effect of shading (light intensity) on growth and yield of the crop. Field data collection for the first year was completed on November 30th 2006. The second year will begin in spring 2007. The study was carried out as a randomized complete block with four replications. Treatments were shade houses constructed from Sarang cloth with shade levels of 92 %; 53 % and 27 % and a control plot of 0 % shade. Light intensity (measured in lux) under these were 700; 2000; and 6000 lux, respectively. The control plot or 0 % light = 10,000 lux. Light intensity was measured with a hand-held LI-Cor LI-250 Photo Meter. Plants were grown in 2 gallon plastic pots filled with mushroom compost. Each plot/ treatment had 40 pots (4 rows of 10 pots). Pots were spaced 3 ft apart within row and 4 ft apart between rows. Thermometers and rain gauges were installed in all treatments to determine any possible effects of exogenous environmental variables such as temperature and rainfall. Additional data to be collected include nutrient samples (N P & K) of the growing medium (mushroom compost), plant height, leaf and branch numbers and time to 50 % flowering and fruiting. Observation showed that plants in the 92 % shade treatment (700 lux) did not flower up to the end of the cropping season November 30th. An outbreak of sooty mould disease from an aphid infestation, seriously reduced fruit yields. The 2000 lux treatment was most adversely affected by the outbreak. Preliminary data analysis confirmed that pest and disease infestation have caused a significant reduction in yield. The 27 % shade treatment produced significantly more fruits (P < 0.05) as well as larger fruits compared to the other treatments.

Study 1. Small -Scale farmers and others interested in producing hot peppers on sandy loam soils may not need to apply phosphorous fertilizer to their crop. Under these conditions production cost maybe reduced while preventing potential P contamination of surface water bodies. Study 2. Results from this study will provide useful information for farmers and others when selecting field site for hot pepper production. For example, the amount of trees or shrubs allowable in hot pepper growing site. Also, to make inference if the presence of close proximity trees affected final yields. The use of plastic pots and other reusable items effectively can reduce input cost thereby increasing profits. Growing medium such as mushroom compost which is environmentally friendly will reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and herbicides which may degrade ground or surface water quality.


  • Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper (Capsicum chinense Jacq.)Yield Parameters in Response to Phosphorous Fertilizer on an Orangeburg Sandy Loam Soil. C. S. Gardner* and G. L. Queeley. 2006. College of Engineering Sciences Technology and Agriculture, 202 Perry-Paige Building South, Florida A & M University, Tallahassee, FL 32307.

Progress 01/01/05 to 12/31/05

During 2004 and 2005 growing season, two on-station studies and one on-farm production activity were carried out. The on station studies initiated were, (1) evaluation of phosphorus (P) requirements for producing Scotch Bonnet hot peppers on a sandy soil and (2) Performance of Scotch Bonnet, Caribbean Red and Habanero hot peppers when grown in 2 gallon plastic pots with mushroom compost. These studies will be conducted over a 2 year period at FAMU Research and Outreach Farm located in Quincy Florida. Results will provide valuable information to be disseminated to small farmers and others interested in hot pepper production. The experimental design for the studies was a randomized complete block (RCB). Laboratory analysis showed that the compost had 2 percent N; 2 percent P and 4 percent potassium. The phosphorous study, carried out on an Orangeburg fine sand soil, had 6 replications. Hot pepper seedlings were transplanted on 05/25/2005 and received P levels of 0, 56, 112, 168, 224 and 280 kilograms per hectare. For the performance study which had 3 replications, the seedlings were potted at 3 months old and were given approximately 20 kilograms per hectare of nitrogen as ammonium nitrate. Harvesting of mature fruits was carried out from 10/04 -11/01/2005. Data were collected on fruit yield per hectare as weight; fruit size; fruits per plant and plant biomass for the P study and fruits per plant and marketable fruit yield for the performance study. Additionally, soil residual P and P content of plant biomass were taken for further analysis (in progress). For the P study, results showed that there was no significant difference among the yield parameters beyond the 56 kilograms per hectare P level, indicating that this is the critical level required for the crop on that soil type. The performance model showed marketable fruit realized for the varieties were 1704, 2153 and 2243 kilograms per hectare1 respectively for habanero, Caribbean red and Scotch Bonnet.

The relatively low amount of phosphorous required for producing the crop will reduce ecosystem runoff rates of this element, thus reducing the potential impact on surface water resources. A more cost effective use of P as an input item for production. Containerized production in pots with compost material is an environmentally sustainable practice.


  • Gardner, C. S. and Queeley, G. L. 2006. Phosphorus Fertilizer Up-take on Growth and Yield of Scotch Bonnet Pepper on a north Florida Loamy Fine Sand Soil. Abstract, Florida Scientist. Vol. 69: 24
  • Gardner, C. S. April 3, 2006. Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper (Capsicum chinense Jacq.)Yield Parameters in Response to Phosphorous Fertilizer on an Orangeburg Sandy Loam Soil, to be presented at the Association of Research directors symposium, Atlanta Georgia.

Progress 01/01/04 to 12/31/04

During the period under review, two field studies and one outreach activity were carried out. One field study evaluated the effect of carry over organic nutrients applied to a previous scotch bonnet hot pepper crop on the growth and yield of a subsequent crop, while the other evaluated the response of two hot pepper varieties to selected organic soil amendments. Results of the field studies showed that (a) carry over organic nutrients under reduced tillage realized scotch bonnet fruit yields in excess of 3,000 kg ha-1. This yield is comparable to previous findings where fruit yields ranged from 2,000 to 4,000 kg ha-1 and (b) that growth parameters, fruit yields response and residual soil quality factors were either equal to or better than similar response to applied inorganic fertilizers. The outreach activity involved exposing high school students to cultural diversity and enterprise development through the growing of hot peppers which were then marketed fresh or processed into value added products such as pickles, jams and jellies.

Accomplishment from these studies included exposing over 200 small farmers, home gardeners and youths to hot pepper production through field days and workshops conducted during the crop growing season. Simultaneously, scientific importance included contribution to environmental sustainability by using organic material as nutrient sources for growing the crop. These studies (as well as others) are on-going and will continue to provide relevant information to the many small-farmers (and others) who are engaged in production of hot peppers as an enterprise. Also, the field studies provided experiential training for a graduate student who completed a thesis on the project.


  • No publications reported this period

Progress 01/01/03 to 12/31/03

Two studies are being continued to develop hot pepper production as an enterprise for small farmers. These activities are intended to optimize the production of Scotch Bonnet and Caribbean Red hot peppers to benefit small scale farmers. Project #1. Mulch effects on growth and yield parameters of scotch bonnet hot peppers. This study was initiated in January 1999, was repeated in 2002 and is now being re-evaluated in 2003. The study investigates the effect of Bahia grass (Paspalum notatum L), black plastic mulch and a control (bare soil) on growth and yield parameters of the Scotch Bonnet hot pepper (Capsicum chinense L). For the 1999 and 2000 studies, data on fruit size, fruits/plant and marketable fruits/ha were collected. Starting in 2003, data on root and shoot development, above ground dry matter (DM) and plant tissue nutrient content were collected for evaluation as indicators of plant growth and development. Data on soil core samples were taken to determine soil nutrient balance. Soil temperature and weather data were also taken and will be analyzed for possible sources of variation. The experimental design was a Randomized Complete Block with 4 replications. For all 3 years of the study, the Bahia grass mulch treatment has consistently produced larger fruits, more fruits/plant and higher yield/ha compared to the control and black plastic mulch treatments. However, significant differences (p < 0.01) among these yield parameters were observed only in 2003. There was no difference in root and shoot DM and root length between plants from the Bahia grass treatment and the control. However, these parameters were significantly lower (p < 0.01) with plants grown on black plastic mulch compared to the control. The study indicates that organic mulch material such as bahia grass will contribute to better plant development and greater fruit yields in Scotch Bonnet hot pepper. Project #2. Development of Alternative Production Practices for hot Pepper This two year study evaluated the effects of bio-solid waste material on growth and yield of Scotch Bonnet and Caribbean Red hot peppers, and on water quality characteristics of the soil on which the crop is grown. Specific objectives of the study are: To determine fresh fruit yield and biomass of the selected varieties and to determine residual nitrate, pH and organic matter of the soil following crop harvest. The experimental design is a randomized complete block (RCB) with 4 replications. Biosolid treatments include poultry manure, cow manure, mushroom compost, earthworm casting (each containing approximately 2% N) applied at 500 pounds acre-1, a 10:10:10 NPK mixture applied at 200 pounds/acre and a control (Bare soil). Initial results have shown that poultry manure and mushroom compost produced yield that was statistically higher (p < 0.05) compared to yield from the inorganic fertilizer and the control treatments. Soil samples are currently being analyzed to determine quality factors.

Technical advise on agronomic practices and marketing has benefitted more than 40 small farmers. One farmer realized gros profits in excess of $13,000 after only 9 weeks of harvesting.


  • 1. D. N. Russell*, C. S. Gardner, and G. L. Queeley. 2003. Yield response of two hot pepper varieties, to organic and inorganic nutrient sources. Proceedings, ARD symposium, Atlanta, GA. 2. G.L. Queeley* and C.S. Gardner. 2003. Mulch effects on growth and yield of scotch bonnet hot pepper. Abstract: Submitted for publication, FAS annual meeting, Orlando, Fl. 2004.