Sunday, September 25, 2011
The production of ethnic and specialty crops to support the changing and growing demographic can be a potential niche market for small farmers. Jamaican Scotch Bonnet peppers exhibit inherent quality attributes such as its flavor and pungency, which makes it marketable among the large Caribbean, Hispanic, and African populations on the Delmarva Peninsula. However, the crop is highly susceptible to numerous soil-borne pathogens that significantly affects yield. Some beneficial microorganisms are known for their symbiotic functions, which can reduce plant diseases, enhance disease resistance, or improve plant nutrient availability. This study was conducted to evaluate the effect of Trichoderma, Vesicular-arbuscular mychorrizae (VAM), and Azospirillum on production and incidence of fungal diseases of Jamaican Scotch Bonnet peppers grown in the greenhouse. Three phenology stages of development were analyzed within a larger study: Vegetative Stage (0-45 Days after Transplanting (DAT)), Flowering Stage (45-75 DAT), and Fruiting Stage (75-120 DAT). This study analyzed the flowering stage of development. Seeds were planted in 72-celled trays filled with promix, and placed in a growth chamber until seeds were germinated and their true leaves formed. Plants were then placed in the greenhouse. Two eight-week-old seedlings were transplanted in single 10 1/8 inch pots containing a 3:1 soil/promix growing medium. Treatments were applied at the time of transplanting. The pots were placed in a randomized complete design consisting of seven treatments: Control, Trichoderma (1/4 tsp), VAM (1 tsp), Trichoderma + VAM, Azospirillum (2 ml), Azospirillum + VAM, Trichoderma + Azospirillum + VAM, with four replications per treatment. Plant heights were measured and liquid fertilizer (20-20-20) was added at a rate of 238 ppm nitrogen every two weeks after transplanting. Shoots and roots were separated, measured and oven dried at 700 C for 72 h. Chlorophyll content was measured at the time of sampling. The results indicate that there was a significant difference between shoot dry weight (p<0.01). Trichoderma + VAM had a significant effect on shoot dry weight. Future studies will be conducted to access the effects of various beneficial microorganisms on Jamaican Scotch Bonnet pepper production.