Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chilli Cultivation

Chilli (Capsicum annuum) belongs to the genus Capsicum under Solanaceae family. The Chilli plant is a white flowered, dark green or purple leaved plant that grows upto 1.5 m in height. It is also called as hot

pepper, cayenne pepper, sweet pepper etc. Five species of Capsicum are under cultivation, though a number of wild species have been identified recently. In India, only two species viz. Capsicum annuum and Capsicum frutescens are known and most of the cultivated varieties belong to the species Capsicum annum. The native

home of chilli is considered to be Mexico with secondary origin of Gautemala. Chilli was introduced in India by the Portugese in Goa in the middle of 17th century and since then it had rapidly spread throughout the country.

Chilli besides imparting pungency and red colour to the dishes, is a rich source of vitamin A, C and E and assists in digestion. Recently, Russian scientists have identified Vitamin P in green chilli which is considered

to be important as it protects from secondary irradiation injury. The pungency in chilli is due to an alkaloid capsaicin which has high medicinal value. Capsaicin has many medicinal properties, especially as an anti-cancerous agent and instant pain reliever. It also prevents heart diseases by dilating blood vessels.

Capsicum pigment is incorporated in poultry feed. In Mexico, pigments are concentrated and blended in feed mix for chicken. This gives a reddish tint to the chicken meat, which is more valued. It is believed that

yolks of eggs of such chicken are also more coloured and healthy looking. Almost 80 percent of the capsaicin in chilli is in its seeds and membranes.

Chilli is an important ingredient in day to day curries, pickles and chutnies. Oleoresin, sauce and essence are prepared from chilli. Chilli is used in various forms; as raw fresh green chopped chilli ; or ground to a paste,

broken split or whole form. To preserve chilli for longer time it is pickled or sun-dried to get a "red" coat chilli which when powdered is used in pinch to get the desired level of pungency.

International Scenario :

The world area and production of chilli is around 15 lakh ha and 70 lakh tonne respectively. Major chilli growing countries are :
                                  India, China, Pakistan, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey and Sri Lanka in Asia; Nigeria,
                                  Ghana, Tunisia and Egypt in Africa; Mexico, United States of America in North &                                         Central America; Yugoslavia, Spain, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy and Hungary in Europe                                     and Argentina, Peru and Brazil in South America.

India is the world leader in chilli production followed by China & Pakistan. The bulk share of chilli production is held by Asian countries. The major consumers of chilli in the world are India, China, Mexico, Thailand,

United States of America, United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden. The major chilli exporting countries with their percentage share in world total exports are India (25 %), China (24 %), Spain (17 %), Mexico (8 %), Pakistan (7.2 %), Morocco (7 %) and Turkey (4.5 %). The world trade in chilli account for 16 % of the total spice trade in the world, occupying second position after black pepper. The major chilli importing countries are United Arab Emirates, European Union, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Japan and Korea.

Cultivation of Chilli in India 

India is a major producer, exporter and consumer of chilli. The area and production of chilli in the country is 6.81 lakh ha and 10.09 lakh tonne. The major states growing chilli in the country are :
                                   Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa,                                                Rajasthan, Tamilnadu, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal etc.

The productivity is high in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu etc., where chilli is grown under irrigation than in Maharashtra and Karnataka, where the crop is raised mainly under rainfed situations. The

major chilli growing districts of the country are Dharwad in Karnataka, Nagpur in Maharashtra and Prakasam, Khammam, Guntur and Warangal in Andhra Pradesh. Andhra Pradesh ranks first both in area and production.

Indian Chilli is mainly exported to Bangladesh, Bahrain, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, USA and UAE.

Organic Farming :

Organic farming is a crop production method respecting the rules of the nature. It maximises the use of onfarm resources and minimises the use of off-farm resources. It is a farming system that seeks to avoid the use of

chemical fertilisers and pesticides. In organic farming, entire system i.e. plant, animal, soil, water and micro-organisms are to be protected. The guidelines for organic farming is enclosed in Annexure 1.


Chilli requires a warm and humid climate for its best growth and dry weather during the maturation of fruits. Chilli crop comes up well in tropical and sub-tropical regions, but it has a wide range of adaptability and can withstand heat and moderate cold to some extent. The crop can be grown over a wide range of altitudes from sea level upto nearly 2100 m above MSL. It can be grown throughout the year under irrigation. It can be grown successfully as a rain-fed crop in areas receiving an annual rainfall of 850-1200 mm. Heavy rainfall leads to poor fruit set and in association with high humidity leads to rotting of fruits. Pungent chilli are susceptible to frost. A temperature ranging from 20-25°C is ideal for chilli. In chilli fruit development was found to be adversely affected at temperatures of 37°C or more. High temperature associated with low relative humidity at flowering increases the transpiration resulting in shedding of buds, flowers and small fruits.


Chilli can be grown in a range of soils, but black soils which retain moisture for long periods are suitable for rainfed crop whereas well drained soils, deltaic soils and sandy loams are good under irrigated condition. However, in hills of Uttarakhand, chilli are grown in a wide range of soils ranging from sandy to clay loam mixed with gravel and coarse sand.

Land Preparation

Land is prepared to a fine tilth by thorough ploughing / digging. Two to three ploughings are done to bring the soil to fine tilth. Stones and gravel are to be removed. In case of direct sowing, three to four ploughings are undertaken and sowing is done along with the last ploughing. The soil can be treated with azatobacter or azospirillum @ 1-1.25 kg mixed with 50 kg of farm yard manure and the same may be broadcast in the field. Farm Yard manure @ 4-6 t and 1-2 t of vermicompost can be added per acre.

Chilli is propagated by seeds. For raising nurseries, seeds of high yielding varieties with tolerance to pests and diseases may be used. They should be carefully selected from certified organic farms or from own seed plot which is raised organically. To start with, chemically untreated seeds from local high yielding varieties could also be used, in the absence of organically produced seeds.


Pusa Sadabahar, Pusa Jwala and Pant C-1 are the chilli varieties for cultivation in Uttarakhand, India. However, many of the farmers are growing varieties procured from Pantnagar for long and even using their own seeds.

Seed Treatment

Seeds should not be treated with any chemical fungicides or pesticides. However, it is always beneficial to adopt indigenous practices for seed treatment, wherever possible. The seeds may be treated with Trichoderma and Psuedomonas sp. @ 10 g per kg of seed to prevent incidence of seedling rot in the nursery. The ideal time for raising nursery is February - March in the hills of Uttarakhand,India .Transplanting would be done during the months of April - May. 400 g of seeds would be sufficient for raising nursery for transplantation in an area of acre.

Nursery Raising

Fresh seeds are sown in well prepared nursery beds. Although it can be sown by broadcast method in the main field, transplanting method is preferred for better quality and survival. The nursery bed is usually raised from ground level and is prepared by thorough mixing with compost and sand. Seeds treated with Trichoderma are sown and covered thinly using sand. The seeds germinate in 5 to 7 days. About 40 - 45 days old seedlings are transplanted in the main field.


40-45 days old seedlings are used for transplantation. Transplanting is generally done during the April-May in the hills of Uttarakhand , India . Seedlings are transplanted in shallow trenches / pits or on ridges / level lands. In some places, 60 cm x 60 cm or 45 cm x 30 cm or 30 cm x 30 cm spacing is also followed. However, a spacing of 60 cm x 30 cm with a plant population of about 22200 seedlings per acre or 45 cm x 45 cm with a plant population of 19750 per acre are considered optimum.

Direct Sowing

Direct sowing is practiced under rainfed conditions. For direct sown crop, the seeds are drilled by the end of March or first week of April in India. Seed rate is 2.5-3.0 kg per acre. After 30-40 days of sowing, thinning and gap filling is done on a cloudy day.


Chilli cannot withstand heavy moisture. Hence irrigation should be given only when necessary. Frequent and heavy irrigation induces lanky vegetative growth and cause flower shedding. Plant growth, branching and dry matter accumulation are adversely affected by excess irrigation. The number of irrigation and interval between irrigation depends on soil and climatic conditions. If the plants show drooping of leaves at 4 p.m., it is an indication that irrigation is needed. Flowering and fruit development in chilli are the most critical stages of water requirement. Normally chilli is grown under rain-fed condition. However, under irrigated condition, care should be taken to avoid using water contaminated with fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides. Irrigation should be done judiciously. Stagnation of water should not be allowed in nursery beds and fields in order to avoid fungal infection.


Organic manures such as farmyard manure is applied @ 4 t/acre. However, it is always advisable to use compost/farmyard manure from own farm rather than from outside the farm. Restricted use of permitted mineral fertilizers under organic system can be done depending on requirement, on the basis of soil analysis. Use of bio-fertilizers can also be resorted to in combination with organic inputs.

Plant protection


Thrips, mites, aphids, root grubs and pod borers are the major pests in chilli. To avoid infestation of root
thrips damaging chilli leaves

grub, only well rotten farmyard manure should be applied in the field. Application of neem cake @ 100 kg/acre is advisable for control of root grubs. Change in the agronomic practices to disturb the life cycle of the
thrips damaging chilli leaves

grub is also found useful. To control the infestation of root grub, light traps can be laid out from March. Grass can be heaped at different places in the field and the grubs which accumulate in these heaps may be
thrips damaging chilli leaves

collected in the early morning and destroyed. 400 g/acre of Beauvaria bassiana( in India) may be broadcast in the field. In India transplanting before first fortnight of April also helps in reducing the incidence of root grub.

Application of neem seed kernel extract (NSKE) can be done for control of thrips, aphids and mites.
aphids damaging leaves
  10 kg of neem seed kernels may be boiled in 15 l of water. 200 ml of this extract may be mixed in 15 l of water and four to five sprays may be given to control sucking pests. Farmers also use seed extracts of

Bakaine (Melia azadirach) along with Bichoo Grass (Urtica dioica) for control of pests. Release of larvae of Chrysoperla cornea, a bio control agent, once in 15 days is also helpful in controlling thrips and mites.
Aphids (class of inspecta order)

Fruit (pod) borers are the major pests which cause considerable damage to the crop. They can be managed to a certain extent by adoption of bio control measures. Restricted installation of pheromone traps in the field

@ 5 no. per acre helps to monitor the adult moths. Ten days after spotting the moths in the traps, 4-5
dust mite

spraying with Nuclear Polyhedrosis Virus (NPV) @ 200 LE (larval equivalent)/acre is beneficial to control the early larval stage of the pod borers. The egg masses of Spodoptera borer can be mechanically collected
dust mite

and destroyed. Trichogramma, an egg parasite, may be released two days after appearance of moths. Spraying of neem products like neem oil, neem seed kernel extract and restricted use of Bacillus thuringiensis
spider mite

@ 0.4 kg/acre are beneficial. All the shed fruits and part of inflorescence should be collected and destroyed at regular intervals.

How to Control Aphids

Aphids are tiny insects (1/32 to 1/8 of an inch) that have piercing/sucking mouth parts. They infest tender new foliage on both annual and permanent plants, usually in spring or early summer. Aphids ingest the fluids from
Aphids damaging leaves

tender leaf or stem tissue of the plant, robbing it of nutrients. Aphids also spread disease by moving from one plant to another. Even without resorting to chemical methods, they're not difficult to get rid of.

Aphids  are normally  found on the undersides of leaves and on tender new growth.One can  notice a yellowing of the leaves on new growth, most often in the spring or early summer months. Aphids are usually found in large colonies, called infestations.

The easiest way to control aphids  is  to spray a  strong jet of water directly onto the affected area of the plant. The stream will wash the insects off.

Aphids can also be removed by spraying with a soap/oil mixture if the water alone doesn't do the job. One tsp. insecticidal soap with 1/2 tsp. horticultural oil in 1 quart water in a spray bottle to be mixed. There are also numerous chemical sprays available.

Ladybugs can also be tried for serious aphid infestations.

Other types of predatory insects can also be atracted that will consume and control aphids by planting dill, fennel, coreopsis and brightly colored flowers near the aphid-prone plants.

As a preventive measure, spray during the dormant season (winter) to head off severe recurring infestations - aphid eggs overwinter on woody stems. Use a dormant-season oil spray.

Select and grow plants that are naturally resistant to aphids. These include plants with a milky sap and thick or fuzzy leaves; the particular plants will vary depending on where you live.

Hummingbirds eat aphids too!They are to be encouraged to visit the garden by hanging a feeder and keeping it clean and full.


Fruit rot & Die back caused by Colletotrichum capsici and bacterial wilt are the two major diseases of chilli. Bacterial leaf spot, powdery mildew and mosaic disease (caused by virus) are the major diseases of chilli. Careful seed selection and adoption of phytosanitary measures will check the diseases of chilli. Early removal of affected plants will control the spread of the diseases. Seed treatment with Trichoderma takes care of seedling rot in nursery. Varieties tolerant to diseases should be used wherever the disease is severe. Rouging and destruction of affected plants help in checking the mosaic virus. For effective disease control, 10 g of Trichoderma or Pseduomonas sp. per litre of water should be used for spraying.


Chilli is highly perishable in nature. It requires more attention during harvest, storage and transportation. Harvesting should be done at the right stage of maturity. Dark green fruit should be plucked for preparing chilli pickle. For dry chilli and for making chilli powder, picking should be done when the fruit is dark red. Ripe fruits are to be harvested at frequent intervals. Retaining fruits for a long period on the plants causes wrinkles and colour fading. Crop is ready for harvesting in about 90 days after transplanting. About 5-6 pickings are made for dry chilli and 8-10 pickings for green chilli.

Growth Phases in Chilli

The crop duration of chilli is about 150-180 days depending on variety, season and climate, fertility and water management. The growth of chilli comprises of vegetative and reproductive phases. In general , the vegetative phase in chilli extends to 75-85 days followed by 75-95 days of reproductive phase. The vegetative phase is characterised by increase in plant height with profuse branching. Heavy branching is preferred for better aeration and sunlight infiltration into the canopy over compact varieties. This also helps in preventing fruit rot. Flowering starts from 80-85 days of the crop or 40-45 days after transplanting. Chilli plant is an often cross pollinated crop with 50% of natural crossing. For fruit development and maturity about 40 days time is required after anthesis and pollination.


The yield of fresh chilli varies from 30-40 q/acre depending on variety and growing conditions. Out of 100 kg of fresh fruits 25-35 kg of dried fruits may be obtained. The yield of dry chilli is expected to be in the range of 7.5 to 10 q/acre. However, in the present model, yield of 8 q/acre has been assumed.

Post Harvest Management :


Chilli on harvesting have a moisture content of 65-80% depending on whether partially dried on the plant or harvested while still succulent. This must be reduced to 8-10% to avoid microbial activity and aflatoxin production. Traditionally, this has been achieved by sun - drying of fruits immediately after harvesting, the most common practice in India, without any special form of treatment. Soon after harvest, the produce is to heaped or kept in clean gunnies for one day for uniform colour development of the pods. The best temperature for ripening is 22-25°C and direct sun light is to be avoided since this can result in the development of white patches. The preparation of drying floor differs from tract to tract. Heaped fruits are spread out in thin layers in the sun on hard dry ground or on concrete floors or even on the flat roofs of houses, frequent stirrings are given during day time in order to get uniform drying and thereby avoid discolouration or mould growth. Levelled and compacted floor is to be made for drying. From the fifth day onwards, the produce is inverted on alternate days so that the pods in the lower layers are brought up to ensure quick and uniform drying. While drying, the produce can be covered with polythene sheets during night time to avoid dew deposition and resultant colour fading.

Since the produce is exposed to sun for 10-15 days in the open yards, it is likely to get contaminated with foreign matter like dust and dirt, damaged by rainfall, animals, birds and insects. Traditional method of harvesting and sun drying involves poor handling of fruits resulting in bruising and splitting. Bruises shows up as discoloured spots on pods, splitting leads to an excessive amount of loose seeds in a consignment and there is a considerable loss in weight and then in price. If the harvested fruits are not properly dried and protected from rain and pests, it will loose the colour, glossiness and pungency. The losses due to this method may range from 30-40 % of the total quantity.

The produce can be dried within a period of 18 hours using air blown drier keeping the temperature at 44o - 46o C. This method not only saves time, avoids the drying operations for 10-15 days but also imparts deep red colour and glossy texture to the fruits. Solar drier and tray drier can be used. RRL (Jammu) has devised a Solar Drier for drying chilli which effects complete drying of the commodity in 4-5 days with a marked improvement in colour and storage characteristics. The gadget is very simple and is made of mud, stone pebbles and glass panes and is specially suited for rural areas. It can be conveniently constructed by village artisans. With the extensive use of such solar driers, sizeable quantities of red chilli can be produced in rural areas.

Grading & Packing

Grading is to be done to remove defective and discoloured pods. All diseased, deformed and discoloured fruits should be removed before marketing and storage. Well dried pods after removing the extraneous matters like plant parts, etc. should be packed in clean, dry gunny bags and stored ensuring protection from dampness.


Chilli should be properly stored to avoid infestation of pests. Storage is a must for off-season consumption and marketing. While dry chilli powder can be stored at home, green fruit has to be kept in cold storage. It is preferable to store dried chilli in refrigerated condition (cold storage) to retain colour. Dunnage has to be provided to stack the packed bags to prevent moisture ingress from the floor. Care should be taken to stack the bags at 50 –60 cm away from the wall. Storing chilli for longer periods may lead to deterioration. However, if cold storage facilities are used, the product may be stored for 8-10 months. Insects, rodents and other animals should be effectively prevented from getting access to the premises where chilli is stored.


Processed products such as dehydrated chilli, pickle, powder, paste, sauce, etc., can be prepared for higher returns. Almost all chilli growers sell it directly. The farmers will be in a position to get better returns by value addition in the form of processed products. Hence, farmers must be educated in the processing of chilli.

Technical guidance in India

Technical guidance for organic chilli cultivation is being provided by Master Trainers at the block level working with the Department of Agriculture.In India Service Providers of Uttarakhand Organic Commodity Board at the district level also help these Master Trainers in guiding the farmers. Apart from this, G B Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Uttarakhand Organic Commodity Board may also be approached for technical guidance and marketing of the produce.

Export Oriented Production

In India , Spices Board supports production, processing, certification and marketing of organic spices. The Spices Board is also implementing the scheme for Export Oriented Production during the XI Plan wherein assistance is being provided for promotion of organic chilli under various programmes .

Culinary uses

Chili pepper pods, which are berries, are used fresh or dried. Chiles are often dried to preserve them for long periods of time. Preserving may also be done by pickling fresh chilies.

Dried chilies are often ground to powders, although some Mexican dishes including variations on chiles rellenos may use whole reconstituted chilies, and others may reconstitute dried chilies before grinding to a paste. Chilies may be dried using smoke, such as the chipotle, which is the smoked, dried form of the jalapeƱo.

Many fresh chilies such as poblano have a tough outer skin which does not break down on cooking. For recipes where chiles are used whole or in large slices, roasting, or other means of blistering or charring the skin are usually performed so as not to entirely cook the flesh beneath. When cooled, the skins will usually slip off easily.

Chili pepper plant leaves, mildly bitter but nowhere near as hot as the fruits that come from the same plant, are cooked as greens in Filipino cuisine, where they are called dahon ng sili (literally "chili leaves"). They are used in the chicken soup, tinola. In Korean cuisine, the leaves may be used in kimchi. In Japanese cuisine, the leaves are cooked as greens, and also cooked in tsukudani style for preservation.

Chili is by far the most important fruit in Bhutan. Local markets are never without chili, always teemed with different colors and sizes, in fresh and dried form. Bhutanese call this crop ema (in Dzongkha) or solo (in Sharchop). Chili is a staple fruit in Bhutan; the ema datsi recipe is entirely made of chili mixed with local cheese. Chili is also an important ingredient in almost all curries and food recipes in the country.

Medicinal Uses

Capsaicin is a safe and effective topical analgesic agent in the management of arthritis pain, herpes zoster-related pain, diabetic neuropathy, postmastectomy pain, and headaches.


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