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RE: Mystery Pepper... Cayenne/Jalapeno Cross? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: okiedawn on 08.30.2010 at 05:10 pm in Oklahoma Gardening Forum

Keith,

To answer your questions, yes, crosses can occur between jalapeno and cayenne peppers because both of them are Capsicum annuums and it is very common for capsicum annuum varieties to cross with one another. In her book "Seed to Seed", Suzanne Ashworth cites research from the University of New Mexico that showed up to 80% crossing in some plant populations. Although peppers have perfect flowers and are, therefore, self-fertile, insect-caused cross-pollination is very common. Peppers don't have to be in the same species to cross, but I cannot tell you for sure which species will successfully cross with other species.

When you have cross-pollination, the seed you have from your original crossed fruit is not necessarily genetically stable, so you have to grow out multiple generations, selecting for the qualities you want with each generation. Once you plant seeds and get all identical plants that produce all identical peppers, then you have stabilized your mystery pepper.

If you wanted to save seeds from this year's 'mystery pepper' and replant them next year, you'd need to grow them in isolation to prevent further cross-pollination. Then, you'd select seeds to save next year from the plants/peppers that give you the quality---like a certain heat level---that you're selecting for.

Since you didn't grow out this year's "mystery pepper" in isolation or with bagged blossoms, this year's seeds of your mystery pepper already could be crossed with something else too. See how complicated it gets when you have something that cross-pollinates easily?

If you wanted to prevent cross-pollination, the standard recommendation for isolation is 500'. Otherwise, you could prevent pollination by bagging blossoms before they open and saving seeds only from bagged blossoms.

You need the advice of a plant breeder to tell you how many seeds you have to grow out to get what you want. Generally, the larger the number of plants you grow, the greater the chance of having a plant that gives you exactly what you want. There's no way to know how many generations it takes to stabilize a variety when you aren't positive how it was pollinated and whether it has just two parents or more than two parents. While it is likely your cayenne and jalapeno last year crossed, you should know that if you had 5 different pepper varieties growing, bees or other pollinators could have cross-pollinated with pollen that day from all the different varieties, not just the ones that seem like an obvious choice.

Hope this helps, and I've linked a website that shows you how to deliberately cross-pollinate a pepper. It also has a chart that shows what happens when different pepper species cross. And, I don't know if it matters to you at this point, but in general the pungent gene that gives peppers their heat is the dominant gene. That's why you commonly hear people complain that their 2nd-generation sweet peppers "turned hot" but you rarely hear them complain that their 2nd-generation hot peppers "turned sweet".

If you're interested in breeding your own vegetable varieties, check out Carol Deppe's book "Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties".

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Pepper Breeding at Fatali,net

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clipped on: 04.19.2013 at 11:05 am    last updated on: 04.19.2013 at 11:05 am