Tips on Propagating Pepper

Tips on Propagating Pepper
by John Mores

A number of cuttings, which may or may not have been rooted in nurseries or baskets, are planted at the base of the tree and are tied and ;lined up the supports, the trees having been planted ahead of the upper. Semicircular pits, about 45 cm deep, are dug around the supports and are filled with jungle soil or topsoil, in which the cuttings are planted. Under this system of cultivation the pepper may receive little pruning.

When propagation by seed is necessary, the selected fruits should be well ripened. They may be soaked in water for two or three days, the pericarp is removed and the seeds are dried in the shade. They are sown in nursery beds or boxes. The seeds germinate in five to six weeks and can be pricked out into baskets when they are big enough to handle.

P. colubrinum, a native species of the Amazon region of Brazil, is resistant to foot rot (Phytophthora pahnivoa) and Fusarium solani var. piper; and was used in Brazil as a rootstock for susceptible P. nigrum. However, grafts on disease-resistant P. colubrinum deteriorated after the fourth year.

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As pepper is a climbing vine, provision must be made for supports. The simplest and oldest form of cultivation is found in India in which cuttings are planted at the foot of a tree near the house; they are given little subsequent attention and yields are very low.

A temporary stake is placed in the centre of the mound. Cuttings, either freshly taken or from the nursery, are planted in the mound in a shallow, slanting furrow with the four lower nodes pressed firmly in the soil. The young stems of the cutting are directed towards the temporary stake to which they are tied. Temporary shade is usually provided by fronds of Gleichenia linearis (Burm.) Clarke, or other fern or vegetation.

When the cuttings are 4 to 6 months old and 60-90 cm high, the temporary stakes are replaced by stout hardwood poles 3.5-4 m long, and sunk 0.6 m into the ground. In Sarawak, Bornean ironwood, Eusideoxylon zwageri Teijsm. & Binn., which is resistant to termite attack, is usually used. A catch crop of ginger, capsicum, soya beans, groundnuts or tobacco may be taken during the first 12 months, but is removed well before the vines have reached the top of the posts.

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