Literature review

Paprika {Capsicum annuum L.) originated from South America and came to Europe — probably first to Spain - in 1493 after the discovery of the American continent (Pickersgill, 1986, 1989). From there it came to Hungary across the Balkan through Turkish growers. The first paprika plants were planted at the end of the 1500s. At first it was considered as an ornamental plant and was grown for culinary usage at the beginning of the seventeenth century. The plant later enjoyed tremendous popularity around the time of Napoleon (Somos, 1981). The book containing the first detailed description was written by Csapo (1775). According to this book paprika is grown in vegetable gardens and the long red fruit is dried and crushed to a powder. Veszelszki (1798) said around that time the farmers of Fot, Palota and Dunakeszi grew paprika. The first cultivation trials were conducted at the botanical garden of the University of Pest in 1788. Since that time different Capsicum varieties were found in the "Index seminum" of the botanical garden (Augustin, 1907). In letters that Count Hoffmansegg sent to his wife about his journey in Hungary, he mentioned: "here I really liked a Hungarian dish, meat with paprika. It must be very healthy ..." (Bälint, 1962). August Elrich, a German traveller did not talk so nicely about the Hungarian paprika in his book of "Die Ungarn wie sie sind" (1831). He called paprika "Diablische Paprika Brtihe". He wrote that for people who are not used to it, the effect on the palate is like embers or even worse (Augustin, 1907).

National trade of the milled production of paprika started in the second part of the nineteenth century and the export trade began at the end of the century. Two main growing regions of paprika were established, namely Szeged and Kalocsa. The official quality testing of milled paprika for the protection of commercialised milled products was introduced at the end of the nineteenth century in Szeged, while the breeding work commenced in Kalocsa in 1917 and in Szeged in the 1920s (Szanyi, 1937; Benedek, I960, 1974). Only Hungarian bred paprika culti-vars are grown in Hungary. In contrast, the Hungarian bred sweet paprika occupies only 80-85% of the production, because during the last 15 years foreign breeding and seed companies have gradually produced more cultivars.

Production regions, cultivars, growing and processing technology

Climate of Hungary

Hungary is located on the north latitude 46°—48°. It means Hungary is on the northern border of the paprika growing area. The vegetation period is relatively short. Late spring frost may occur between 15—20 April. In some cases the first autumn frost may come at the end of September, but definitely in the middle of October.

Almost the whole area of the country is suitable for paprika growing given its temperature, precipitation and sunshine-hours. There are no striking differences in climate from region to region, although the sunshine-hours are the highest on the southeast part, and the precipitation is the least (about 2,000 hours and 500 mm per annum, respectively), while the sunshine-hours are less and the precipitation is more (about 1,800 hours and 700—800 mm per annum) on the western part of the country. The biggest growing regions' (South Hungary) meteorological data is shown in Figures 9-2—9.8 (Data provided by National Meteorological Station, Szeged Station).

Production regions Sweet Capsicum

Sweet Capsicum can be grown in any Hungarian region except along the western border of the country where the precipitation is higher and the temperature is lower than the average. Only 8—10% of the country's soil and climate conditions are unsuitable for growing sweet Capsicum. Nevertheless, as traditional growing regions evolved, immigrant Bulgarian market gardeners settled at the southern part of the country and started vegetable production. Observing the Bulgarians' success of production and commercialisation of sweet Capsicum, the Hungarians

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