Soil and climate

The chilli crop is raised extensively in black cotton soils under rainfed conditions. It is also grown in red sandy soils under irrigation and to a limited extent in coastal alluvial soils. The chilli crop raised for ripe dry chilli is mainly concentrated in the black cotton soils of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu (Hosmanii, 1993). The less pungent sweet pepper or Capsicums are grown in the hilly tracts of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and also in the cooler south Indian plains and hills. A well-drained loamy soil, rich in organic matter, is considered the most suitable for chilli cultivation. Clayey loams that can retain moisture are good for rain-fed crops. Acidic and alkaline soils are not suitable for growing chilli. The germination and early vigour of plants are affected by saline soils. Sandy loam soils with organic matter are ideal for Capsicums. Sweet peppers are insensitive to acidic soils and can grow well under a pH of 5.5-7.0 (Thakur et al., 1999).

Chilli is a warm season crop but low humidity and a high temperature result in the shedding of buds, flowers and young fruits. Very low temperature also results in poor growth. Performance of sweet peppers is better under low temperature conditions. Soil temperature below 10°C retards growth and development of chilli, while 17°C is the optimum temperature. Atmospheric temperature ranging from 20°C to 25°C is ideal for chilli. Capsicums can be successfully cultivated in a mild temperature of 17—23°C. Capsicums cannot tolerate frost.

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