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Easy Farming
Easy Farming

History/Pepper

Pepper is the most widely used spice in the world and known as “King of the Spices”. Pepper crop is native to South Asia and historical records reveal that pepper is originated in South India. Peppercorns were a much prized trade good often referred also as “black gold” and used by as a form of commodity money. Until well after the Middle age, virtually all of the black pepper found in Europe, the Middle East and the North Africa traveled there from India’s Malabar region. It was some part of the preciousness of these spices that led to the European efforts to find a sea route to India and consequently to the European Colonial occupation of the country as well as European discovery and colonization of America/s. Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, India and Brazil are the main pepper producers in the world.

Products and Uses
Pepper is largely produces as black pepper which is the dried whole fruit. White pepper is produced by removing outer pericarp and pepper is also available in crushed and ground forms. Small amount of green and ripened pepper is pickled in brine and dehydrated green pepper and preserved red pepper also traded. Pepper oil and oleoresins are also extracted marketed as value added products.
Pepper is mainly used as a spice and flavoring agent in food industry. It also has industrial uses in perfumery and pharmaceutical industries.
Major Growing Areas
In Sri Lanka pepper is mainly cultivated in Low and Mid country Wet and Intermediate agro-climatic zones. Total extent of pepper in Sri Lanka is about 29,378ha and Matale, Kandy, Kegalle,Badulla,Ratnapura, Monaragala and Kurunagala are the major districts.

Varieties
Although the origin of black pepper is believed to be Malabar Coast of India, Sri Lanka too is a home to a number of wild pepper types. When consider the huge genetic variability of P. nigrum L. found in Sri Lanka and the presence of pepper wild relatives, it is believed that Sri Lanka also a place of origin of pepper. Some commercial black pepper varieties had also been introduced to Sri Lanka since the existence of commercial black pepper trade. High yielding pepper line called “Panniur-1” from India and “Kuchin” from Malaysia was introduced in 1970s but MB21 and GK 49 are high yielding and superior quality local selections which are popular among black pepper cultivators.
Soils and Climatic needs

Soil
Pepper grows best in well drained loamy soils rich in organic matter and having a minimum depth of 60cm. Clay soil restrict root growth and create moisture stress during short dry spells. Ill drain soils leads to many soil borne diseases.
Climate
Altitude: from Sea level to elevation of about 800m amsl.
Annual rain fall: not less than 1750mm. Areas with prolonged droughts should be avoided unless there is facility for supplementary irrigation. There should be clear dry spell and a sufficient rainfall for flower induction and to facilitate pollination.
Temperature: Plants can tolerate 15º C – 35ºC. Growth and yield performances are better in humid tropics. Strong winds are harmful.
Crop establishment

Planting material
Pepper is usually propagated vegetatively using stem cuttings. For commercial cultivations cuttings are selected from terminal stems or from ground runners. If cuttings are taken from lateral branches bush type pepper plants can be produced. The selected mother vine should be high yielding, healthy and with vigorous growth, produce lateral branches with short inter-nodal distances, long spikes, complete coverage of spikes with berries, bold berries and be free from pest and diseases. As pepper is grown in different climatic zones the selected line should be tolerant to the climatic conditions of the area. Cuttings are planted in poly bags filled with a mixture of equal parts of top soil, cow dung, sand and coir dust.

Field Planting
Spacing – for both mono crop and inter crop with coconut – 2.4mx2.4m spacing is recommended (1700 plants/ha).
After the land preparation planting pits of 45cmx45cmx45cm are made and filled with the mixture of top soil, cow dung or compost.
Pepper vines are trained on live or dead supports. In Sri Lanka live supports are used and commonly used support trees is Glyricidia sepium. and some may use Erythrina indica (Dadap) or Gravilia robusta. Glyricidia sticks of 3-5cm in diameter and 2.2m in length should be planted to a 20cm depth at the corner of the planting pit. Supports should be planted at least 06 months before the planting of pepper provide adequate shade.

Field planting of pepper is done with the on set of monsoon rains. About 4-6 months old potted healthy and vigorously growing plants with 5-8 leaves are planted in the pits at 15-20cm away from the support. Immediately after the planting, temporary shade should be provided to protect cuttings from the direct sun light and suitable mulch should be applied to the base to conserve soil moisture.
Crop management

Training and pruning pepper vines
As the new pepper plants starts elongating, it must be tied on to the support so as to facilitate the adventurous roots to attach themselves to the support.
It is required to train 3-4 orthotropic (terminal) shoots over the support and satisfactory number of plagiotrophic (lateral) branches when the vine reaches to 8-10 nodes. Having 2-3 terminal shoots give a more productive columnar shape canopy and substantial numbers of lateral branches ensure the higher yield (Spikes are emerged only from lateral branches), If any growing does not produce orthotropic at the 8-10 nodal stage the pruning of pepper vine from the terminal should done to induce 3-4 orthotropic shoots.
After 3-5 years pepper vine grows to the top of the standard and make a good canopy. At the height of 3.5-4.0m height pruning should be done to maintain the height of the pepper plant and to make a good shape canopy.
Shade control and mulching

The height and number of branches of the Glyricidia support should also be regulated by pruning so as to keep a final height of about 3.5-4.0m height. It is recommended to prune Glyricida trees at least 3 to4 times a year. In the wet zone pruning Glyricidia four times a year is highly beneficial as it reduces the labor cost and unwanted shade and also provides adequate mulching material. Experimental evidences have shown that application of Glyricidia lopping, at the rate of 10kg/tree/year, can cut down inorganic fertilizer requirement by 50% without any yield loss.
Fertilizer application
Recommended mixture - 2380 kg / ha (without Glyricidia lopping)
Recommended mixture - 1190 kg / ha (with Glyricidia lopping)
Components of the mixture Parts by weight Nutrient in the mixture
Urea (46%N) 4 14%N
Rock phosphate ( 28 % P2O5) 5 11% P2O5
Muriate of potash (60% K2O) 3 14% K2O
Kieserite (24%MgO) 1 2% MgO
Without glyricidia lopping
Age of plantation Maha Season (mixture Kg/ha.) Yala Season (mixture Kg./Ha.)
1st Year (kg) 250 250
2nd Year (kg) 500 500
3rd Year and onwards (kg) 700 700
with glyricidia lopping
Age of plantation Maha Season (mixture Kg/ha.) Yala Season (mixture Kg./Ha.)
1st Year (kg) 125 125
2nd Year (kg) 250 250
3rd Year and onwards (kg) 350 350

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