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Abstract

Puerto Rican sweet pepper also known as 'Aji dulce' (Capsicum chinense Jacquin) is a popular crop in the Virgin Islands. It is mainly used for culinary seasoning by most Puerto Rican residents. In spite of its popularity, no crop management studies have been done to improve yield and production. This study was conducted to determine the response of Puçrto Rican sweet pepper to levels of drip irrigation. Peppers were planted on 1 May 2002 into rows 91 cm apart. Within-row spacing was 61 cm. Treatments consisted of three drip irrigation regimes (levels) based on soil moisture tension of -20 kPa, -40 kPa, and -60 kPa. The trial was laid out by using a randomized complete block design with three replications. Peppers were harvested on six dates from 23 July to 27 August 2002. Data collected included total number of fruits, number of marketable fruits, marketable fruit weight, and total irrigation water usp. Results indicated no significant (P>0.05) differences in measured parameters; however, there was a trend for yield to increase with increasing irrigation rate. Plant height and marketable yield increased with increasing application of irrigation water from -60 kPa to -20 kPa. Regression analysis indicated a significant (P<0.0274) linear response to irrigation rates. Highest marketable yield was obtained from irrigation regime where soil moisture was maintained at -20 kPa. Although not statistically significant, decreasing soil moisture tension from -60 kPa to -20 kPa resulted in 30% increase in marketable fruit yield. Total water use was highest (1763 m3 ha" ') at irrigation regime of -20 kPa and lowest (547 m3 ha"1) at -60 kPa. Although yield was highest at the -20 kPa regime, water use and cost were not efficient, thus resulting in lower economic returns to irrigation water compared to returns with irrigation regimes of -40 kPa and -60 kPa.

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