What can you tell me about growing hot peppers for market?
Answer: Thank you for your recent request for information from ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service regarding growing hot peppers for market.Before growing hot peppers for market, I recommend evaluating your clientele to see if there is indeed a market for this product. Has there been customers requesting them at the market? Is there an ethnic population in your region that attends your market and have an interest in buying hot peppers? Hot peppers, in general, require a long growing season, warm soil and moderate air temperatures, and a fair amount of space. The space and temperature depend on the variety, but in general fruit set is hampered if temperatures are over 90 degrees and under 60 degrees. Most peppers are transplanted out because of their long growing season. Follow the spacing on the seed packet, but typically the spacing is 14 ?18 inches (depending on the variety) apart and 36 inches in-between the rows.The hot peppers can be divided into several categories:Specialty ethnic varieties include are typically marketing to people who are of a particular ethnicity or who have an interest in cooking specific ethnic foods. Some popular varieties:Hungarian Hot WaxHabaneroPadronChiles:This category usually includes Anaheim peppers usually used for chile rellenos.Anchos and poblanos?used for mole, and chile rellenoCayenne are often dried and used as a spice.Jalapenos: A medium spiced chile indispensable in Mexican cookingPaprika: a mild pepper, but it has a niche market similar to the other peppers above. Mostly used as a dry pepper. Marketing:The marketing tools for chiles and hot peppers are extensive, but many of these avenues do not bring a lot of revenue. Marketing can be through fresh sales at the market. Another option that would require some investment is buying or hiring a skilled welder to develop a chili roaster. The bags of roasted chilies can be sold in bags. At the Des Moines, IA market they are sold three pounds for $8 and six pounds for $15.Many chiles are also sold in ristra form. Ristras are dried chilies strung up and hung, often decoratively, but they originated as a way of drying and preserving chiles through the winter months. While there are certain pests that are specific to peppers, peppers typically have relatively few insect problems and a moderate disease pressure. Alfalfa and Tomato Mosaic virus are a few of the more damaging ones and are spread by aphids. These can be avoided through avoiding smoking near any solanaceae family of crops (typically potato, tomato, eggplant and peppers.) Blossom end rot is an abiotic disease and can be managed through adding calcium.Referenced below is a fact sheet on growing chile peppers. While it was written in California, it is a good overview of the pest and pest management for chiles as well as general fertility requirements.Resources: Smith, Richard, et al. 1998. Chili Pepper Production in California. University of California.