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New hybrid plants could prompt more prodigious pepper production in Southwest

d to climatic conditions and plant diseases of the Southwest and to U.S. consumer preferences," he said.

The team has already bred several new cultivars of jalapeno, serrano, Habanero, poblano ancho, bell and other fresh pepper plants.

"Most of the breeding and selection of these new pepper hybrids has been done in test plots at the Uvalde center," Leskovar said. "Uvalde is a good test area because the soil and climate are similar to many other parts of Texas and the Southwestern U.S. where peppers are now being grown."

"At the same time, we've been developing these cultivars to produce higher yields of peppers with the size, shape, color, capsaicin (the active "heat" ingredient) level and nutritional content American consumers want," said Dr. Kevin Crosby, a plant breeding expert with AgriLife Research in College Station and key team member.

Leskovar and Crosby are both affiliated with the Texas A&M Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center, part of the university's department of horticultural sciences.

Crosby, who received national attention by developing a milder version of the notoriously hot Habanero pepper, said the new hybrids are meeting or exceeding expectations for appearance, yield and quality.

"These peppers not only look good, they taste great and the plants produce impressive amounts of fruit, all of which should please both the producer and the consumer," he said.

The team has established the first-known poblano pepper production in Texas through a partnership with San Antonio-based Constanzo Farms and is collaborating with other large producers in New Mexico and Arizona.

They have licensed two hot pepper cultivars in the past three years and have provided stock seed for commercial production, as well as providing large quantities of trial seed to pepper growers in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

Though some of the team's efforts began as far back as three years ago, "re

Contact: Dr. Daniel Leskovar
Texas A&M AgriLife Communications

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