Colorful produce has become more important at farmer’s markets and on produce shelves in grocery stores. The vibrant spectrum of colorful produce can be seen in many crops ranging from radish (Raphanus sativa L.), Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris L.), carrot (Daucus carota L.), tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.), and bell peppers to New Mexican-type chile peppers (Capsicum annuum L.). Colorful vegetables provide high value products to a growing market of upscale consumers, and in turn furnish opportunities for small-scale farmers to make a transition from traditional production of low-value commodities toward the production of produce with greater value. A study by Frank et al. (2001) found that colorful vegetables were most often used for enhancement of food preparation. They also reported that growers receive a premium for produce with novel coloration. Simonne et al. (1997) found that color was far more important in the purchase decision by the consumer than retail price or vitamin content.
The New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Breeding Program has released vibrantly colored chile peppers in the past. ‘NuMex Sunrise’, ‘NuMex Sunset’, and ‘NuMex Eclipse’ are New Mexican pod-type chile peppers that change from green to yellow, orange, and brown, as they mature, respectively (Bosland et al., 1990). In addition, the New Mexico State University Chile Pepper Breeding Program released colored de arbol type chiles, ‘NuMex Sunburst’ and ‘NuMex Sunglo’, that instead of maturing from green to red, matured from green to orange and green to yellow, respectively (Bosland, 1992).
The jalapeño pepper is a popular garden, fresh market, and processed crop. Currently, all jalapeño cultivars have green to red fruits. New Mexico State University has released three green to red jalapeño cultivars with unique characteristics, such as mildness, phytophthora blight disease resistance, or large fruit size (Bosland, 2010a, 2010b; Votava and Bosland, 1998). ‘NuMex Lemon Spice’, ‘NuMex Orange Spice’, and ‘NuMex Pumpkin Spice’ jalapeños provide unique mature fruit colors, yellow, orange, and pumpkin orange, respectively, which are not currently available in the marketplace.
Bosland, P.W. 1993 An effective plant field-cage to increase the production of genetically pure chile (Capsicum spp.) seed HortScience 28 1053
Bosland, P.W. & Votava, E. 2012 Peppers: Vegetable and spice capsicums. 2nd ed. CAB International, Wallingford, UK
Bosland, P.W. & Walker, S. 2014 Growing Chile in New Mexico, H-230. New Mex. Cooperative Extension Service Guide H-230
Bosland, P.W., Iglesias, J. & Tanksley, S.D. 1990 ‘NuMex Sunrise’, ‘NuMex Sunset’, and ‘NuMex Eclipse’ ornamental chile peppers HortScience 25 820 821
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Frank, C.A., Nelson, R.G., Simonne, E.H., Behe, B.K. & Simonne, A.H. 2001 Consumer preferences for color, price, and vitamin C content of bell peppers HortScience 36 795 800
Munsell Book of Color 1980 Glossy edition. Xrite Incorporated, Grand Rapids, MI
Simonne, A.H., Simonne, E.H., Eitenmiller, R.R., Mills, H.A. & Green, N.R. 1997 Ascorbic acid and provitamin A contents in unusually colored bell peppers (Capsicum annuum L.) J. Food Comp. Anal. 10 299 311