Calcium and Ethephon Effects on Paprika Pepper Fruit Retention and Fruit Color Development

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078-0511
  • | 2 Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078-0511

Ethephon has increased yields of red fruit, but its use as a pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) fruit ripening agent has been limited by premature fruit abscission and defoliation. We tested ethephon solutions of 0,1500,3000,4500, and 6000 μl·liter-1 with or without 0.1 m Ca(OH)2 as a onetime foliar application to field-grown paprika pepper in southwestern Oklahoma. There was a linear increase in fruit abscission with increasing ethephon rates in 2 of 3 years, with or without added Ca. Marketable fruit as a percentage of total harvested fruit weight was improved by ethephon at 6000 μl·liter-1 in 2 of 3 years, primarily due to a decrease in weight of harvested green fruit. However, ethephon never significantly increased the dry weight of harvested marketable fruit over that obtained from the control. There also was no effect of ethephon on the intensity of red pigment extracted from dehydrated marketable fruit. The only consistently significant effect of Ca(OH)2 was an undesirable increase in the retention of green fruit on the plants. Ethephon had little value as a fruit-ripening agent for paprika pepper under the conditions of our studies, and Ca(OH)2 was not useful as an additive to ethephon sprays. Chemical name used: (2-chloroethyl) phosphoric acid (ethephon).

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