In the Virgin Islands hot peppers (Capsicum chinense L.) are a high value crop of which there is great demand for both fresh pepper and processed products. Previous studies have identified cultivars with high yields and good market potential. A field trial was established during the summer season of 2000 to determine the response of hot pepper cultivars to levels of drip irrigation. Four cultivars ('Habanero', 'Red Scotch Bonnet', 'Yellow Scotch Bonnet', and 'West Indies Red') were drip irrigated at soil moisture levels maintained at -20, -40 and -60 kPa based on soil tensiometer. The trial was designed using a split-plot in randomized block design. The drip irrigation levels were the main plots and the cultivars were the subplots. Data on irrigation water use, plant height, and number and weight of fruits were collected. Results indicated no significant (P>0.05) response to levels of drip irrigation. The cultivars also did not differ significantly (P>0.05) in yield at each irrigation level. Significant differences (P<0.05) in mean plant height, fruit size and number of fruits across irrigation levels were observed among cultivars. Cultivars 'Habanero' and 'West Indies Red' produced higher number of fruits than 'Red' and 'Yellow Scotch Bonnet'. Cultivars 'Red Scotch Bonnet' and 'West Indies Red' produced larger fruits than 'Habanero' and 'Yellow Scotch Bonnet.' Total water use was highest at irrigation level of -40 kPa and lowest at -60 kPa soil moisture. Water use efficiency was highest at irrigation rate of -60 kPa and lowest at -20 kPa. This study indicates that increasing irrigation rate has no effect on hot pepper yield and therefore hot peppers can be produced with minimum irrigation.


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