High Yield Chilli Farming Information Guide
Chilly is one of the most valuable crops in India and is largely grown for its fruits all over the country. It is used as a principal ingredient of various Curries and Chutneys and is also used for vegetables, spices, condiments, sauces and pickles.
It is one of the popular spices of many of our dishes. It can be consumed either in Green, Red, Dried or in Powdered form. It is widely used in many cuisines as a Spice to add pungent ‘heat’ to dishes and this pungency is due to an active constituent Capsaicin, which is an alkaloid and it is extracted from Chillies and is used for making medicines. Also, the red colour of the Chilli is due to Capsanthin.
Chilli is a berry fruit also known as hot pepper, cayenne pepper or sweet pepper and it is a member of the nightshade family from the genus capsicum under the Solanaceae family. It originated in the tropics of Central and South America and is one of the oldest cultivated crops in the world.
The major Chilli producing countries are China, Mexico, India, Spain and Nigeria. China was the world’s largest producer of green chilli providing about half of the Global total and around 34.5 million tonnes of green chillies and 3.9 million tonnes of dried chillies were produced worldwide in 2016.
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The Global production of dried Chilli peppers was about one-ninth of fresh production which is led by India with 36% of the world’s total. In India, the popular states of Chilli cultivation are Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Tamilnadu and West Bengal.
Hot chillies have the advantage that they can be dried and stored for long periods, so small scale farmers are not dependent on selling the perishable fruit immediately and with the right varieties, there is a diverse market to enter which are quite profitable.
Chilli Farming is a very lucrative business which is practiced in numerous countries worldwide and it produces high yields, however the farmers need to be cautious of the climatic conditions, pests & diseases and other resources to make appropriate agricultural decisions so as to achieve higher yields.
We will learn more about its Cultivation Requirements in this article.
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Health Benefits of Chilli
Some of the benefits of chillies are as follows:
- Fresh chilli peppers, Red or Green, have a rich source of vitamin C.
- They are good in antioxidants such as vitamin A and flavonoids like Beta-Carotene, A-Carotene, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Cryptoxanthin.
- It carries a good amount of minerals like Potassium, Manganese, Iron and Magnesium.
- It is also good in the B-Complex group of Vitamins such as Niacin, Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin and Thiamine (Vitamin B1).
- It plays an important role in treating lung and prostate cancer and leukaemia.
- It is a potential booster for weight loss.
- It helps in curing colds.
- It helps in improving eyesight.
- It helps to reduce high blood pressure.
- It helps in the formation of Red blood cells.
Varieties of Chillies
Variety selection is the first and foremost important step in doing any type of vegetable Farming, and in Chillies also the variety plays an important role because the entire production depends on the variety chosen.
The selected variety should be of good quality and free from any type of abnormalities, diseases and it should be certified from the government and the seeds should be bought from a trusted nursery.
Read more: Guide for bell pepper planting care & harvesting.
Some of the good varieties of Chillies are:
- Bhagya Lakshmi
- PLR 1
- Pant C1
The right varieties for cultivation in Uttarakhand are:
- Pusa Sadabahar
- Pusa Jwala
- Pant C 1
The other famous varieties are:
- G4 or Bhagyalaxmi
- G5 or Andhrajyothy
- CA 960 or Sindhur
- LCA 200
- CA 1068 or Aparna
- LCA 235 or Baskar
- Paprika Chilli varieties
- LCC 424
- LCC 436
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Climate Requirement for Chilli Farming
Chilli requires a warm and humid type of climate for growing properly. It comes up well in tropical and subtropical regions. Also, it requires dry weather during the maturation of fruits. It has a wide range of adaptability and can withstand heat and moderate cold to some extent.
It requires a temperature of 20 to 25 degree Celsius. Low moisture in the soil during the Blossom development and fruit formation stage causes the deblossoming of the bud and the dropping of fruit. Also, Excess of rain brings defoliation and rotting of the plant.
The crop is grown in areas receiving annual precipitation of 25 to 30 inches. It can be grown over a wide range of altitudes from sea level up to nearly 2100 meters and you can even grow the crop throughout the year under irrigation.
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Soil Requirement for Chilli Farming
Chillies can be grown in a wide range of soils but black soils retain moisture for longer periods and they are suitable for the rain fed crop. While, well drained soils, deltaic soils and sandy loam soils are good under irrigated conditions. A
cidic soils are not suitable for Chilli cultivation. Chillies can be grown in all types of soils from light sandy to heavy clay. The soil should be well drained, well aerated and the pH of the soil should range between 5.8 to 6.5. Chillies are very sensitive to waterlogging. The land should be ploughed 3 to 4 times thoroughly, followed by planking to level the field.
Maintenance of Buffer Zone in Chilli Farming
For cultivating the Chillies organically, a buffer zone of 25 to 50 feet is to be left all around the conventional farm depending upon the location of the farm.
The produce from this buffer zone can not be treated as organic but you can grow chillies organically as an inter or mixed crop, provided that the other crops are grown following organic methods. It is recommended to include leguminous crops in rotation with Chilli.
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Land Preparation in Chilli Farming
The land is prepared by giving 2 to 3 plowings and crushing the clod after each ploughing. Before 15 to 20 days of sowing the seeds, the soil should be mixed well with any type of compost or Farmyard manure @ 150 to 200 quintals and at the last plowing O.H.C @ 8 to 10 kg per acre of Aldrin or Heftaf @ 10 to 15 kg per acre should be applied to the soil for protecting the crop from white ants and other soil pests.
Sources of Planting material & Propagation of Chillies
Chillies are propagated by seeds and for raising them in nurseries, the seeds of high yielding varieties are considered which can tolerate pests and diseases. The selected seeds should be certified from organic farms or from their own seed plot which is raised organically. You can even use chemically untreated seeds from local high yielding varieties in the absence of organically produced seeds.
Sowing time in Chilli Farming
Read more: How to do organic farming of Capsicum?
The sowing time depends on the production area. In case of chilli crop for Kharif, it is sown in May to June months, for Rabi crop, it is sown in the months of September to October, and for the Summer crop, it is sown in the month of January to February.
Seed Rate in Chilli Farming
1 to 1.5 kg of seeds per hectare is required for Chilli Farming.
Seed Treatment in Chilli Farming
The seeds should be treated with Trichoderma and Pseudomonas sp. @ 10 gram per kg of seeds so as to prevent them from seedling rot in the nursery. However, the seeds should not be treated with any type of chemical fungicides or pesticides and it is always beneficial to adopt indigenous practices for treatment wherever possible.
The ideal time for raising them in nursery is in the months of February and March in the Hills of Uttarakhand and the transplanting should be done during the months of April to May. For raising in a nursery, 400 gram of seeds would be sufficient for transplanting in an area of 1 acre of land.
Nursery Raising of Chillies
Chilli seeds can be sown in well prepared nursery beds. It can also be sown directly in the main field using broadcast method, but transplanting method is mostly preferred for getting better quality of the crop.
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The nursery bed is usually raised from ground level and it is prepared by mixing compost and sand and the seeds are treated with Trichoderma and are sown and covered thinly using sand. The germination of seed takes time up to 5 to 7 days and after 40 to 45 days, the seedlings are transplanted in the main field.
Transplanting in Chilli Farming
The transplanting is recommended to be done in the evening with an optimum spacing of 60 to 45 cm for open field conditions and immediate irrigation should be provided just after transplanting to facilitate better plant establishment, and thereafter, light and frequent irrigation should be provided up till the establishment of the plant.
The seedlings used for transplantations should be 40 to 45 days old and it is generally done during the April and May months in the Hills of Uttarakhand and they are transplanted in Shallow trenches or pits or on Ridges or level lands.
Read more: How to Prepare Soilless Seedling?
Direct Sowing in Chilli Farming
Direct Sowing is practiced under rainfed conditions where the seeds are drilled by the end of March or during the first week of April with a seed rate of 2.5 to 3 kg per acre. Thereafter, thinning and gap filling is done on a cloudy day after 30 to 40 days of Sowing.
Spacing of Plants in Chilli Farming
At some places, 60 cm × 60 cm or 45 cm × 30 cm or 30 cm × 30 cm spacing is followed. However, specing of 60 cm × 30 cm is considered optimum with plant population of about 22200 seedlings for every acre of land or 45 cm × 45 cm with a plant population of 19750 for 1 acre of land.
Irrigation Requirement in Chilli Farming
Chillies can be grown under rainfed conditions, but it can also be grown under irrigated conditions. However, you must take care to avoid using water contaminated with any type of fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides and the field should be irrigated properly. Stagnant water should not be allowed in the nursery beds or fields to avoid fungal infections.
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Chillies cannot withstand heavy moisture, so irrigation should be applied only when it is required as heavy irrigation can cause lanky vegetative growth and flower shedding.
The number of irrigation and the interval of irrigation totally depends on the soil and climatic conditions. The flowering and fruit development stage are the most critical stages of water requirement. For optimum Chilli production, the soil moisture should be maintained and it should not be waterlogged or very wet during the whole growing season.
Intercultural operations in Chilli Farming
The seedlings should be generally raised by sowing through broadcasting methods or in line in ridges. The seedlings should be thinned out by hand after sowing them for maintaining a plant population of about 30 to 60 plants per metre square after 25 to 30 days of sowing.
The density of the plant should be maintained depending upon the nature and fertility of the soil. The population is maintained at high levels in marginal soils.
- Weed Control
Generally, two weedings or hoeings are essential to keep the field free from weeds. The first weeding should be done within 20 to 25 days of sowing, and the other after 20 to 25 days of the first weeding. Depending upon the growth of weeds, one or more weedings can be done.
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The weeds that attract pests should be allowed to grow in the field as it could act as a trap and then it should be removed before flowering. Furthermore, weedicides can also be applied to control the weeds. Earthing up is also carried out whenever necessary.
Mulching helps in retaining the moisture of the soil and it also helps in preventing weeds. Make sure that you use organic materials for mulching.
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Crop Rotation in Chilli Farming
Chillies can be cultivated organically as an inter or mixed crop provided all the other crops grown in the field are grown under organic methods and it is recommended to include a leguminous crop in rotation with the actual Farming. Ensure that Potatoes, Tomatoes, Brinjals, Gooseberries and Tobacco are not included in the Crop Rotation system with Chillies.
Manures & Fertilizers Requirement in Chilli Farming
During the preparation of the field, Farmyard manure or compost should be applied @ 10 to 11 tonnes per hectare. For the rainfed crops, 50 kg of Nitrogen and 25 kg of Phosphorus should be applied with half dose of Nitrogen and full dose of Phosphorus at the time of transplanting and the remaining half dose of Nitrogen after 30 days of transplanting.
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For irrigated crops, 100 kg of Nitrogen and 50 kg of Phosphorus and 50 kg of Potassium should be applied. These fertilizers should be applied in 4 equal doses with the first dose at the time of transplanting and the remaining doses at 4th, 11th and 13th week respectively after transplanting.
Organic fertilizers like animal manure or vermicompost can also be used. You can even give insecticides in the proper amount for young age plants.
Pests & Diseases in Chilli Farming
Common pests of Chilli plants are:
- Fruit borer
- Pod borer
- Root grubs
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For avoiding infestation of root grubs, a well rotted farmyard manure can be applied and Neem cake can also be applied. You can even change the agronomic practices to disturb the life cycle of the grub.
Common diseases of Chilli plants are:
- Fruit rot & Dieback
- Bacterial wilt
- Bacterial leaf spot
- Powdery mildew
To control these diseases, the seeds should be selected carefully and adopt phytosanitary measures to check these diseases. The affected plants should be removed earlier to control the spreading of these diseases. The seeds should be treated with Trichoderma in the nursery and use disease tolerant varieties to avoid these diseases.
Read more: Best farming methods for Brinjal.
Harvesting in Chilli Farming
The crop duration of Chilli is about 150 to 180 days, depending upon the variety, season, climate, fertility and water management resources.
The growing phase of Chilli consists of Vegetative and Reproductive phase which extends to 75 to 85 days for vegetative phase and 75 to 95 days for the reproductive phase.
Chillies mature and are ready for harvesting in approximately 90 days after transplanting and it is harvested according to different maturity levels. Green chillies are harvested after 60 days of transplanting with 5 to 6 pickings and the Dry Chillies are harvested after 90 days of transplanting with 2 to 3 pickings.
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To increase the number of pickings, Urea can be sprayed @ 10 gram per litre and soluble Potassium @ 10 gram per litre (1% solution each) at 15 days interval during the time of harvesting.
For Canning purpose, they are harvested when the fruits are of Red colour and the Chillies used for Drying purpose is harvested at full ripe stage which is then converted into Chilli powder.
Chillies require more attention during the harvesting, storage and transportation stage as it is highly perishable in nature.
Yielding & Post Harvest Management in Chilli Farming
The yielding of Chilli crops varies according to the system of cultivation, variety of seeds, climate, soil properties and overall care during the production stage. For rainfed crop, the yielding is about 200 to 400 kgs, and for irrigated crop, it is 600 to 1000 kgs per acre of land and the proportion of dry to fresh japed Chilli varies from 25 to 40%.
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For maximizing the yields, farmers should select varieties which have a good fruit setting under local conditions. They should ensure appropriate irrigation management in their fields. They should apply both organic and inorganic fertilizers properly and for any type of insect infestation, they should use a good preventative spraying program.
The Post Harvest management of Chillies is carried out in 3 phases:
- Grading and Packaging
Chilli Farming is very easy and can produce high profits for commercial farmers, but the farmers fail to get highest possible yields because they lack skill and knowledge and they are not able to make sound decisions, therefore it is very essential that the farmers acquire good knowledge on appropriate crop management involved in the cultivation process.