More Peppers, Please!

Ellen C.Wells

Hot, sweet, small, round, horn-shaped, green to red to fresh to dried, people are using peppers in all aspects of cooking—in a breakfast omelet, in a noontime salad or topping your dinner fajitas—or frankly, skipping the cooking altogether and eating some fresh slices with a good-sized dollop of ranch dressing.

Breeding companies are doing their best to keep up with demand for new pepper flavor profiles, shapes, colors, heat and all those other peppery attributes. Here’s a rundown of what is new from several different companies. Now excuse me while I check on the red peppers I have roasting in the oven.

PeppiGrande Red is a corno-shaped sweet pepper with outstanding crisp texture, rich flavor and more sweetness than large-fruited peppers. The fruit is often seedless (when grown in isolation), which means less preparation time for chopping and cooking. Try it grilled or baked and stuffed with cheese. Grow in-ground using supports or cages.

Armageddon is the world’s first F1 super-hot (1.2 million Scovilles!) chili pepper. The hybrid nature give gardeners improved plant vigor, fruit uniformity and shorter (95 to 100 days) time to maturity, at least two weeks earlier.

Basket of Fire is the little plant that packs a wallop! It produces tons of small, hot peppers on a teeny plant. It’s also quite ornamental as well as cool-weather tolerant, so add it to your fall containers for that autumnal color.

Sweet Poppers gives you a no-heat alternative with all the flavor of jalapeños. It’s early to fruit and produces tons of fruit. Use supports if growing in containers. Try them in salsa, pickled or grilled.

Ristra Cayenne II is an upgrade from the original, offering a better plant canopy and a higher yield potential. The mildly hot, tapered fruit has a twisted shape, thin walls and is two-celled. Fruit ripens from green to red between 75 and 90 days.

Trifecta is a dual-purpose, sweet, blocky bell pepper ideal for fresh or roasting. Produces high yields of jumbo and XL dark green, glossy fruit. It colors to deep scarlet-red both inside and out for roasted red peppers. Plants produce a strong canopy to protect the fruit. Ideal for pack and small pot retail sales. Also adaptable for cage programs in 2.5-plus gal. containers. Fruit matures green in 70 days and to red in 85 days. Disease resistance to TMV and TSWV.

Bayonet bell pepper is highly productive when under difficult growing conditions such as cold and drought. It fruits continuously and gives multiple harvests of medium-sized fruit. Ideal for pack and small pot retail sales, it’s also adaptable for cage programs in 2.5-plus gal. containers. Fruit matures green in 70 days. Disease resistance to TMV, BLS and TSWV.

Sakata Seed
Samurai S10 and Ninja S10 take on the latest growing challenges, most notably showing intermediate resistance to all 10 races of bacterial leaf spot. Both are widely adapted and produce very high yields of firm, glossy, dark green to red fruits on vigorous plants. Extra-large fruits ripen in about 70 days for Samurai and in about 75 days for Ninja. Both show impressive field holding ability. Resistant to TMV:0 as well.

Pathfinder, a serrano type, combines thick walls with high yields and compact plants to produce more fruit in less space. It has early-mid maturity (78 to 80 days), a deep green color and disease resistance. Adapted to both cool and warm conditions, Pathfinder produces 4-to 5-in. long cylindrical fruits all season long. It’s resistant to bacterial leaf spot races 0-3, 7 and 8.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Arancia is a half-sized Corno di Toro with full-size flavor. This variety is an exceptionally sweet and attractive smaller version of Carmen and

Escamillo, with similar maturity. Perfect for grilling and roasting, like their full-size counterparts.

Black Magic is the darkest jalapeño Johnny’s offers. Fruits are 3.5 to 3.75-in. long and exhibit “checking,” those small cracks in the skin that indicates ripeness. The productive, medium-sized plants have a high yield potential. It’s a significant advancement in jalapeño breeding.

Snowball is a white to ivory, medium-sized, blocky bell. They mature from ivory to yellow and, finally, golden yellow. Its flavor is mild when ivory, and sweet and fruity when golden. Sturdy, medium-sized plants provide average leaf cover and have a high yield potential. Fruits are slightly more uniform than Bianca, which it replaces. GP