The annual requirements of pepper planting material is very large in India, running to millions. Such heavy demands led to large scale production of pre-rooted cuttings in polybags. Many studies have been carried out in various pepper growing countries for developing an efficient propagation technique for pepper. Such a technique is required for large scale production of the new breeding lines also.
When the large scale production of pepper cuttings started in India (in Kerala), three node cuttings from runner shoots were used. The success rates were often very low. The runner shoots from high yielding and healthy plants are kept coiled on wooden pegs fixed at the base of the vine to prevent the shoots from coming in contact with soil and striking roots. The runner shoots can be separated from the mother plant in Jan-Feb., dip in a fungicide like copper oxychloride or Bordeaux mixture for 1 minute, surface dry in the shade and after trimming the leaves, cut into 2-3 nodes and plant either in nursery beds or polythene bags filled with fertile soil mixture with sand and farmyard manure. Studies by various workers indicated that application of IBA 200 ppm improved the rooting percentage of cuttings, and it was the best for defoliated single node cuttings (Suparman and Zaubin 1988). Two node cuttings dipped in IBA at 1000 ppm for 45 seconds produced highest root numbers (Pillai et al. 1982). Application of 25 per cent cattle urine gave the same effect as 2000 ppm IBA in terms of fresh and dry weight of roots and the number of roots per cutting (Suparman et al. 1990). The growth of single node cuttings in general was significantly better in the soil at 80 per cent or 100 per cent of field capacity. Ernawati and Yufdy (1990) found that single and double node plus a part of climbing shoot were better than single and double node cuttings. Adequate shade and frequent irrigation are necessary. The cuttings strike roots and become ready for planting in June. Problem of rotting of the cuttings in nurseries by fungi like Rhizactonia solani, Pythium sp., Colletotrichum sp. and Sclerotium rolfsi can be effectively managed by regulating shade with coconut leaves or other locally available materials to regulate the light intensity to 11,338 lux (Mammootty et al. 1993) and by occasional fungicide application (See Annexure for additional details).
An efficient propagation technique (commonly called as bamboo method) has been developed in Sri Lanka and it is becoming increasingly popular in India (Bavappa and Gurusinghe 1978). In this method, a trench of 60 cm deep and 40 cm wide, having convenient length is made. The trench is filled with rooting medium (preferably forest soil, sand, farmyard manure mixture, 1:1:1). Split halves of bamboo with septa or split halves of PVC pipes having 1.25-1.5 m length and 8-10 cm diameter provided with plastic septa are fixed at 45° angle on a strong support. The bamboo/PVC pipes can be arranged touching one another. Rooted cuttings, one each per bamboo, are planted. The lower portions of the bamboo or PVC pipe splits, are filled with a rooting medium (preferably weathered coir dust-farm yard manure mixture, 1:1) and the growing vine is tied to the bamboo or PVC split pipes in such a way as to keep the nodes pressed to the rooting medium. The tying could be done with degradable jute or other vegetable fibres. The vines are irrigated daily. As the vines grow up, filling up the bamboo with rooting medium are to be continued regularly. For rapid growth, the following nutrient solution may be applied every
Figure 4.1.1b A rooted vine after removing from the bamboo. Each rooted node is separated and planted.
fortnight: urea (1 kg), super phosphate (0.75 kg), muriate of potash (0.5 kg), magnesium sulphate (0.25 kg) in 250 litres of water. The solution is applied at the rate of 0.25 litre vine-1 two to three times a month (Fig. 4.1.1a).
When the vine reaches the top (the initially planted vine takes 3-4 months for this) the terminal bud is nipped off and the stem is crushed at about three nodes above the base, in order to activate the axillary buds. After about 10 days, each vine is cut at the crushed point and removed from the rooting medium and each node is separated (Fig. 4.1.1b). The nodal cutting with the bunch of roots intact is planted in polybags filled with pot mixture. Care should be taken to keep the axil above the soil. The polybags should be kept in a cool humid place, or should be covered with thin polythene (200 gauge) sheet to retain high humidity. The buds start developing in about three weeks and then the polybags can be shifted to partial shade. The stumps regenerate giving out one or two shoots each and they also can be trained as in the earlier case. Thus continuous regeneration and harvesting of rooted cuttings can be possible. About four harvests can be taken in an year, giving a multiplication rate of about 1:40 in a year. The advantages of this method are: multiplication is rapid (1:40), the root system is well developed and better field establishment and more vigorous growth as a result of better root system and the propagation is a continuous process. In Malaysia, Ghawas and Miswan (1984) could get on an average 54 rooted cuttings using the above method where top soil plus coconut husk was used as the rooting medium.
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