Evaluation of Scotch Bonnet and Habanero Peppers (Capsicum chinense) For Resistance to Southern Root-knot Nematodes

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  • 1 U.S. Vegetable Laboratory, USDA/ARS, 2875 Savannah Hwy., Charleston, SC 29414-5334

Scotch Bonnet and Habanero peppers, extremely pungent cultivar classes of Capsicum chinense, are becoming popular in the United States. Since the southern root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne incognita) is a major pest of many C. annuum cultivars commonly grown in the United States, a series of greenhouse and field studies was conducted to determine whether Scotch Bonnet and Habanero peppers also are vulnerable to the pest. An effort was made to collect Scotch Bonnet and Habanero seeds from all available commercial and private sources. In an initial greenhouse test, a collection of 59 C. chinense accessions was evaluated for reaction to M. incognita (race 3). All accessions obtained from commercial sources were moderately susceptible or susceptible. However, four accessions obtained via Seed Savers Exchange listings exhibited high levels of resistance. Three of these accessions (identified by the seed sources as Yellow Scotch Bonnet, Jamaica Scotch Bonnet, and Red Habanero) were studied in subsequent greenhouse and field plantings, and each was confirmed to have a level of resistance similar to the level of resistance exhibited by the C. annuum cv. Mississippi Nemaheart. Each of the resistant lines has good fruit and yield characteristics. The two Scotch Bonnet accessions produce yellow, bonnet-shaped fruit. The Red Habanero accession does not produce the lantern-shaped fruit typical of Habanero cultivars; the fruit have a bonnet shape.

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