Green chili / Capsicum annuum / Solanaceae belongs to the Capsicum genus and is a widely grown crop the world over. It is an important spice and used in most dishes for flavoring. In India, green chilies are also called Hari Mirch, Lal Mirch, Morich, Mirchi, Lauka, Miagai, Mirpakayi, Jeevisaang, Jolokiya, Morok, Gaarha Mirch, and Marach wangun.
Green chilies are also called chili pepper sometimes. Chilies are grown mainly for the fruit and used as spices, in chutneys, curries, vegetables, curry powder, condiments, sauces, and pickles. They come in various varieties such as Green Cayenne, Yellow Cayenne, Red Cayenne, Green ball, Red ball, Jalapeno, Birdseye, and Habanero. In India too there are many varieties of chilies and the most popular are Pusa Sadabahar, Pusa Jwala, and Birdseye (Dhani), Kashmiri Chili, Guntur Sannam S4 type, Hindur S7, Ellachipur Sannam S4 type, Madhya Pradesh GT Sannam, Byadagi (Kaddi), Kanthari White, and Pant C-1. They are widely grown in the states of AP, Telangana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, UP, TN, and WB.
The red color in chili is due to Capsanthin and its pungency is due to Capsaicin. Capsaicin is an alkaloid that is used to make medicines. Chilies can be eaten raw, roasted or pickled. They can be eaten dried too. The dried red chilies are usually stored in plastic bags and can be kept that way for many months. If you buy dried red chilies in the market, you could store it in an airtight container too at home. The fresh green chilies need to be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight box. Before doing that, you will need to pluck off the top bit for longevity. Paprika is made by simply crushing dried red chilies to a coarse powder form. Capsicum frutescens is a perennial chilly with small sized pods which are highly pungent. It is commonly known as ‘bird chilly’ and ‘Tabasco’.
Varieties of Chilies
image source – asiafarming.com
There are many Hybrid varieties of chilies as well such as F1 Hybrid, Hybrid Chili Trishul, Hybrid Chili Agni, Hybrid Chili Sachin, Hybrid Chili Red Devil, Hybrid Chili Huero, etc. There are other varieties too, but the most important and popular varieties are listed above for reference. If you wish to know the other varieties, you could contact your local horticulturist for more information regarding the extensive varieties of chilies grown in India.
Chillies are known to be pungent and are good for weight loss as they increase your heartbeat (cardio). Some southern states in India, especially AP use immense amounts of chilies in their daily diet. India is the largest producer, consumer and exporter of chili in the world. Chilies can be easily grown at home, in open fields, backyard, pots, terrace, containers, etc. Seeds are needed for propagation. They can also be grown in hydroponic systems. Chili farming has a lot of demand, and hence its commercial market is quite successful.
There are no particular dishes made out of chilies except sauces and pickles, but they are used in almost all dishes in its many forms. Capsicum or bell pepper is used as a vegetable, in gravies, salads and as a topping on pizzas. Jalapenos are used in most dishes such as pizzas, pastas, tacos, nachos, etc. All the grown varieties of chilies have some use or the other in cuisines across the world.
Due to adulteration of spices, it is recommended to make the red chili powder at home. It is easy and can be stored in glass jars for regular use. The method to make this is mentioned above.
Other than the food usage, chilies are beneficial for health too. They are known to protect against cancer, they are good sources of B-Complex and iron, they help reduce blood sugar levels, contain Vitamin E that is good for skin, help boost immunity and so much more.
Green Chili farming Capsicum cultivation
Image source – eagriculture.in Image source – krishisewa.com
Process of growing Green Chilies
⦁ Time / Season / Climatic Conditions –
1. January – February
2. June – July
3. September – October
Chillies thrive in warm and humid climates such as tropical or sub-tropical climates with a temperature range of 20 – 25 °C. Chilies are not very tolerant to rainfall and cannot grow in rainfall of more than 25 – 30 inches. Chillies can be grown throughout the year but for commercial farming and higher productivity, the above seasons are followed.
⦁ Seed Rate / Spacing –
Chillies are propagated by seeds. Use only best quality seeds that are high yielding and tolerant to pests. Seed rate depends on the soil and the cultivar. Usually, for the varieties mentioned, 1 kg seeds are used per hectare land. The seeds are treated with Trichoderma viride @ 4 gm/kg of seeds and cover the sand.
The nursery must be drenched with Copper oxychloride @ 2.5 gm/liter of water every fortnight. At the time of sowing, Carbofuran 3G @ 10 gm/sqm is applied. For hybrid varieties, 200 – 250 gm/ha seeds are used.
40 – 45-day old seedlings are transplanted to the main field. Transplanting is done in shallow trenches, pits or ridges or even level land. The spacing is usually 60 cm x 60 cm or 45 cm x 30 cm or 30 cm x 30 cm but a spacing of 60 cm x 30 cm is recommended.
⦁ Soil Type / Land Preparation / Irrigation –
Chillies can be grown in a wide variety of soils, but sandy loam, clay loam, and loam soils are best suited. The soil should be well drained, rich in organic matter, and well aerated. The best pH value of the soils must be 5.5 – 6.8. Acidic soils do not agree with Chili cultivation. Sandy clay loam soils are best suited for hilly regions. Black soils are best suited for rain-fed crops and well-drained, deltaic soils are best suited for irrigated lands.
While preparing the land, a buffer area of 7.5 – 15 m should be left all around. The land is prepared, giving 2 – 3 ploughings to get fine tilth state and about 150 – 200 quintals of FYM is spread a fortnight in advance. In the last plow, OHC @ 8 – 10 kg/acre Aldrin or Heftaf @ 10 – 15 kg/acre should be applied to the soil to protect the crop. Fresh chili seeds are sown in well-prepared nursery beds and transplanted to the main field. Seeds usually germinate within 5 – 7 days and only the 45-day old seedlings are transplanted to the main field. The land should be leveled with the help of tractor blade. Creating raised beds is useful in ensuring water does not collect during the rainy season. During land preparation, other than adding FYM, you can also add 2 kg/ha Azospirillum and 2 kg/ha Phosphobacteria. Soil must be tested before sowing seeds. Rain-fed crops require a full dose of 25 kg of P, 50 kg of N in two doses with the half dose being applied a month later. In case of irrigated crops, N:P:K is applied in 100 kg:50kg:50kg in 4 equal doses. This is done by applying one dose first and then the second dose at the 4th week, third dose at the 11th week, and 4th dose at the 13th week after transplanting.
Irrigate the furrows and transplant 40-day old seedlings with the ball of earth of the ridges. Once germination starts to remove the mulch. Chillies germinate within a fortnight and the first seedlings are ready 5 – 6 weeks after sowing. Irrigation should be restricted to the seedbed a week before transplanting and just before the transplant, irrigate heavily. Chillies are usually grown as rain-fed and irrigated crops. Rain-fed crops require 80 – 100 cm annual rains. Chillies are shallow plants and are intolerant to drought and flooding. In arid regions, drip irrigation is carried out. Furrow method is employed when adequate water is present. If heavy rains persist, ensure to drain out excess water.
As mentioned before first irrigation is given after transplanting seedlings to the main field and subsequent irrigations are given once in 5 – 6 days in summer and once in 10 – 12 in winter seasons respectively. Ensure you give irrigation only when necessary. A thumb rule to find out if the plant needs irrigation is to check at 4 pm. If the leaves droop at this point, then irrigation is definitely required.
⦁ Weed Management / Pest Control –
Intercultural operations ensure weeds are contained. Since chilies are shallow plants, 2 – 3 shallow hoeing should be given to kill weeds. Mulching by using rice straws @ 5 tons/ha helps control weeds and protects the plant from moisture loss. Weedicides can also be added to control weeds. You can apply Lasso @ 1.5 liters/ha with one hand weeding to control weeds.
Aphids are controlled by spraying dimethoate @ 0.05%
Thrips are controlled by crop rotation or treatment of seeds with imidacloprid 70% WS @ 12 gm/kg. Alternately you can apply carbofuran 3% G @ 33kg/ha
Fruit borer can be controlled by collecting and destroying the damaged fruits or spraying Bacillus thuringiensis @ 2 gm/liter of water
Broad mites can be controlled by crop rotation or spraying dimethoate @ 0.05%
Mealybug can be controlled by spraying dichlorvos 0.02%
Root-knot nematode can be controlled by crop rotation
Leaf spot can be managed by spraying Agrimycin – 100k @ 200 ppm + copper oxychloride 0.3%
Anthracnose disease can be managed by spraying Mancozeb @ 2.5 gm/liter of water
Powdery mildew can be managed by spraying wettable sulphur 3 gm/liter of water. 3 sprays should be given at fortnightly intervals
Root grub is controlled by applying neem cake @ 100 kg/acre
Neem Seed Kernel Extract is useful in controlling aphids, thirps and mites. To do this, boil 10 kg neem seed kernels in 15 liters of water and about 200 ml of this is added to 15-liter water and sprayed
Restricted installation of pheromone traps in the field @ 5/acre help control adult moths
⦁ Harvesting –
Chilies are highly perishable and are harvested at the red stage for canning purposes and at the fully ripe stage for drying purposes. The yield varies on various factors such as climate, soil, etc. but rain-fed chilies yield 200 – 400 kg and irrigated crops yield 600 – 1000 kg /acre. After harvesting, drying, grading and packaging and storage activities are carried out. Dried red chilies can be stored at normal room temperatures, but the fresh green ones are stored under refrigeration.
⦁ Benefits of Green Chillies –
⦁ The fresh green chilies contain all the nutrients as compared to the dried ones
⦁ Chilies are rich sources of antioxidants and provide protection against most cancers
⦁ Chilies contain vitamin C and hence help boost immunity
⦁ Chilies contain vitamin E that is good for your skin
⦁ Chillies contain zero calories and are excellent for weight loss
⦁ It is good for men to fight against prostate cancer
⦁ Chilies help control blood sugar levels and are therefore good for diabetics
⦁ Chilies help digest food faster
⦁ They are known to elevate mood levels
⦁ They reduce the risk of lung cancer
⦁ Chilies keep bacterial infections at bay
⦁ People prone to iron deficiency should definitely consume more green chilies as they are rich in iron
⦁ They are known to reduce blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels
⦁ Chilies keep the body temperature cool
⦁ They are known to fight sinuses
⦁ Heat produced by chilies is good in relieving pain and is an anti-ulcer aid
⦁ They contain vitamin c and beta-carotene that are good for eyesight
⦁ Green chilies contain vitamin K that is good for osteoporosis and helps reduce bleeding in case of injuries
⦁ Chilies act as detoxifiers and remove waste from the body
⦁ They are used as natural painkillers and antibiotics
⦁ Chilies have vitamin B6 and folic acid that reduce homocysteine levels that cause heart attacks