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Effect of plant density and harvesting type on yield and quality of fresh and dried peppers and paprika

Velázquez, Rocío, Casquete, Rocío, Hernández, Alejandro, Martín, Alberto, Córdoba, María G, Coleto, José Miguel, Bartolomé, Teresa
Journal of the science of food and agriculture 2019 v.99 no.1 pp. 400-408
Capsicum annuum, capsanthin, food processing, fruits, manual harvesting, mechanical harvesting, paprika, pepper, plant density, profitability, Spain
BACKGROUND: Traditionally, peppers (Capsicum annuum L.) of Jaranda variety used for the production of smoked paprika are harvested manually in the north of Extremadura (Spain). Mechanical harvesting is necessary to improve the profitability of this crop. The present study aimed to evaluate the effect of plant density (D1 = 36 765 and D2 = 73 530 plants ha⁻¹) and harvesting type (manual or mechanical) on the yield and quality of fresh, dried and powdered peppers. RESULTS: The increase in plant density increased marketable yield per hectare, although the yield per plant decreased. With mechanical harvesting, the optimal density was D2 (15 151 kg ha⁻¹) over D1 (12 493 kg ha⁻¹). After processing the fruits, the application of D2 and mechanical harvesting significantly improved quality parameters, such as a*, ASTA (American Spice Trade Association) units and carotenoide concentration, primarily capsanthin. CONCLUSION: The cultural practices tested provided an adequate productivity of fresh pepper and a better quality of the final product. According to the results of the present study, the increase in plant density and the substitution of manual harvesting by mechanical harvesting could be profitable practices with respect to the Jaranda variety of pepper used for the manufacture of smoked paprika. These practices maintain the main quality parameters of dried peppers and paprika. © 2018 Society of Chemical Industry