Pruning is a regular practice in most pepper growing countries though in India there is no such practice. Pruning is reported to be essential to shape the plants and to stimulate development of axillary shoots. Trials have been carried out in Sarawak, to test the efficiency of different pruning methods. Three methods of pruning are in vogue in Malaysia (Anon. 1981).
When the vines are six months old (having approximately nine nodes), the shoots are pruned back to approximately 30 cm (3-4 nodes) from the ground. Thereafter three terminal shoots are trained up the post and these shoots are allowed to grow to ten nodes and then pruned back to three nodes from the point of the first pruning. Pruning in this manner continues until the vine reaches the top of the post.
When the vines are six months old, the terminal shoots are pruned back to 3-4 nodes from the ground. Three terminal shoots are then trained up the post and there is no further pruning until the vine reaches the height of three quarter post. Then top two or three nodes are pruned away and the vine is allowed to grow to full post.
When the vines are six months old, shoots are pruned back to 30 cm from the ground. Three terminal shoots are then selected and trained up the belian post. Here after the pruning is done only wherever there is a blank (unproductive) node.
Trials carried out in Sarawak did not give any significant difference among the above methods as far as the yield performance is concerned, though Sarikei method was slightly better. A seven year trial gave a pooled annual mean yield of 11,124; 10,140 and 10,380 kg ha-1 fresh fruits for Sarikei, Kuching and Semongok methods respectively (Anon. 1981). Kuching method of pruning results in column shaped plants and takes longer time to reach the top of the post as compared to the other methods. Pepper vines pruned by Sarikei or Semongaok method are cone shaped at the first few years and gradually become column shaped as they grow older.
Azmil and Yau (1993) concluded that three rounds of pruning is enough to obtain necessary number of climbing shoots as well as the appropriate bushiness of the pepper vines. Chong and Shahmin (1981) showed that there was no significant differences in yield between pepper vines having 3, 4 or 5 climbing shoots. In another trial Chong and Yau (1985) showed that vines with five climbing shoots produced more yield than those with 7 or 9 climbing shoots. Thus depending on the diameter of the pepper post 3-5 climbing shoots can be maintained.
In Kerala (India) as well as in certain areas in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, some farmers practice another method for producing more number of climbing shoots. The growing plants, one year after planting, are kept coiled around the standard under the moist soil. Usually this is done in the next rainy season. Before hurrying the stem under soil all leaves are removed from the portion that goes under soil. This results in all the axillary buds to develop and many shoots climb up and cover the standard quickly. But no experimental data is available on the advantages of this practice.
All leaves from the main stem are also removed. This is done because if they are allowed to remain they impede the circulation of air around the base and the centre of the vine and may lead to diseases (Lawrence 1981). Lawrence (1981) has listed the following advantages for pruning.
1. To ensure that all blind nodes are removed
2. To encourage bushiness of the vine
3. To ensure that the terminal leader stems grow evenly
4. To make harvesting easier
5. To encourage the vine to produce more fruiting spikes.
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