Garden Talk

with Rebecca Jordi


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Q: I am growing several types of peppers but my Ghost peppers are not producing well. What could be the problem?

Ghost Pepper

Ghost Pepper

A:  The Ghost pepper, Bhut jolokia, requires temperatures above 70º degrees F to produce fruit or peppers. We are just now reaching those temperatures on a regular basis. We may not be hot enough for a long enough period of time to produce this hot pepper but be patient and give it some more time and you may see better results. If you are not successful, do not be too hard on yourself, this pepper is typically grown in a much hotter climate than Northeast Florida.  The Ghost pepper is also known as naga jolokia, bih jolokia, ghost chili pepper, red naga chili, and ghost chili, is an interspecific hybrid cultivated in the Indian state of Assam. The name “bhut jolokia” comes from the Bhutia tribe who used to bring it to the valley of Assam for trade. DNA tests showed it is an interspecies hybrid, mostly C. chinense with C. frutescens. In 2007 Guinness World Records certified the ghost pepper as the world hottest pepper, with 1,041,427 Scoville units, 401.5 times hotter than Tabasco sauce (2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units). It currently is ranked in third place following ‘Carolina Reaper’ (Guinness World Records 2013) and ‘Trinidad Moruga scorpion’ (Bryan 2012), which are 2,009,000 and 2,200,000 Scoville units, respectively, but these peppers are rarely grown in the Miami-Dade County region. Ripe bhut jolokia peppers are approximately 2.4 to 3.3 inches long and 1.0 to 1.2 inches wide, with a red, yellow, orange, or chocolate color and very thin skin. The fruit can be rough, wrinkled, dented, or smooth. Bhut jolokia is widely used as an ingredient in spicy food and as a remedy for summer heat in some countries. It is used in both fresh and dried forms and has a unique flavor. In addition, the dried powder of such hot peppers can be developed into pepper spray as a self-defense product. This information comes from the University of Florida publication titled: Pepper Production in Miami-Dade County, Florida.  http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/tr010

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