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New cayenne pepper available.

A new cayenne pepper ideal for home gardeners who want a compact, highyielding variety for their chili and other spicy foods has been released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Named Charleston Hot, the new pepper is also resistant to all four known races of southern root knot nematode and to other nematode species.

The southern root knot nematode damages plant roots, cutting yields by up to 50 percent and killing a plant under extreme conditions, says Philip D. Dukes, a plant pathologist with the Agricultural Research Service in Charleston, South Carolina.

Dukes says Charleston Hot reduced root knot nematodes by 95 percent in field trials.

"Home gardeners will like this new variety because it doesn't take up as much space as other cayenne pepper varieties," says Dukes. "It only grows to about 18 inches high. It's also colorful and produces excellent yields of about 2 pounds of fresh peppers per plant. We think it will appeal to commercial growers."

Dukes and ARS plant geneticist Richard L. Fery, at the agency's U.S. Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, developed the new variety after more than a decade of pepper research.

Charleston Hot is a sister line of another cayenne pepper called Carolina Cayenne, also developed by Fery, Dukes, and Roy Ogle of Clemson University.

Charleston Hot has an unusual trait for a cayenne pepper: It changes through a rainbow of colors as it ripens. The pepper starts out yellow-green - the color of the plant foliage - and changes to golden yellow, bright orange, and then to a deep red when it matures.

At maturity, a Charleston Hot pepper is about 4 inches long - and, as its name implies, it's very hot - making it ideal for highly spiced dishes, Dukes says. One plant will produce at least 134 to 150 pepper pods, or about one-half pound of dried peppers.

Charleston Hot can be grown almost anywhere in the United States. Dukes says limited amounts of seed are available to breeders and gardeners by writing to him at the U.S. Vegetable Laboratory.
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Author:Adams, Sean
Publication:Agricultural Research
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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