The objective of this study was to evaluate the possible causes for greater pungency in pepper (Capsicum annuum) pods of two chile selections when produced at eastern and western Oklahoma locations. Pungency tests over several years have demonstrated that peppers grown in western Oklahoma consistently produce pods with ≈25% greater pungency than peppers grown in eastern Oklahoma. Data from Oklahoma Mesonet stations located near each production location indicated the western Oklahoma location had higher temperatures and wind speed but lower relative humidity than the eastern Oklahoma location during pod development. Mature dry pods were dissected into cap and stem, seeds, and pod wall. Comparisons of pod component differences between the locations showed pods were similar in dry weight; however, western Oklahoma produced more cap and stem in both selections, and in one selection produced more pod wall but less seed. Pungency was 24% and 28% greater in the two selections when grown in western Oklahoma. More pod wall and less seed could account for some of the pungency increase in only one of the selections. The more stressful production environment in western Oklahoma appears to be the major factor in pungency differences between the locations.
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